Fueling the Future: Glacial Lakes Energy
Glacial Lakes Energy (GLE) produces approximately 360 million gallons of ethanol a year used largely for fuel. Headquartered in Watertown, GLE has four plants scattered across northeastern and central South Dakota.
Since 2003 Compeer Financial has been providing GLE financing for acquisitions, operations, capital expenditures, and providing cash management services and revolvers that can flex up during commodity volatility spikes. Since 2003, GLE increased their production level by an almost unbelievable 900%.
“GLE has an approach of providing value to their local farmer owners through strategic acquisitions when values and opportunities present themselves, and through services to local farmers and distributions to farmer owners. They’ve also been strategic with additions of technologies to generate new co-products and revenues sources as well as building strategic relationships. They have their eyes on the horizon and position GLE to take advantage of new opportunities,” said Aaron Knewtson, VP of Food and Agribusiness at Compeer.
In turn, GLE is grateful to work with Aaron and Compeer, because their values, visions and experiences are similar. According to GLE’s CEO, Jim Seurer, having a lender with a different approach and who understands the agriculture industry is critical. “Aaron and the team at Compeer understand our business is market based and there will be ups and downs that require a lender to be flexible and patient,” Seurer said.
“That means they help position us during the challenging times and -- because we’ve built a mutual trust -- we can count on them to have our back. They’re very responsive, very engaged”
David Elkin, GLE’s Chief Financial Officer, couldn’t agree more. “It’s not easy to find a lender with such practical knowledge and experience in our field,” he said.
“From working through changes in our risk management policy to suggesting projects to consider investing in, Aaron’s guidance and expertise has been invaluable and really given us a competitive advantage.”
The common denominator between GLE and Compeer that, ironically, sets Compeer apart in Seurer’s mind is that both organizations are cooperatives, serving farmers.
“When I look at Compeer’s membership materials, committee reports and board candidates, it’s a perfect reflection of folks that own GLE as well. This just reinforces to me that we are are in the right place for our lending needs,” said Seurer.
The admiration is mutual. “As a lender, I’m very proud to work with a borrower with a strong board of directors, executives, grounded financial and risk management, and operating teams as they work to grow and strategically build for the future,” Knewtson said. “They are excellent operators, strategic thinkers, and risk managers, and the proof lies in their outstanding success.”
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