Modular ethanol system manufacturer expands with an eye on waste

By Kris Bevill | May 03, 2011

Easy Energy Systems Inc., a manufacturer of modular ethanol production systems, is expanding operations at its facilities in Welcome, Minn., and Emmetsburg, Iowa, and is establishing executive offices and western sales offices in Arizona. About 50 new jobs will be added in Minnesota and Iowa, according to company founder and chairman Mark Gaalswyk. The new Scottsdale, Ariz., office will employ a dozen executives. The company is also scouting locations in Phoenix for a manufacturing facility, which Gaalswyk said will provide between 450 and 600 new jobs. He expects the factory could become operational within a year.

The modular systems produced by Easy Energy range in capacity from 500,000 gallons to 2 MMgy and cost up to $3.9 million for a 2 MMgy system, according to the company. The systems can be used to produce ethanol from a variety of feedstocks, but focusing on waste streams is what has led to the company’s growth, Gaalswyk said. “We can make corn ethanol as well as anyone else, but our target market is really waste,” he said. “Some of those waste streams may be cellulosic, some may not be. But most of those waste streams require smaller systems, which is where our market niche is.” The company’s research has shown that most facilities producing convertible waste streams are in need of systems that can produce about 10 MMgy. California provides a large market for ethanol and, specifically, non-corn ethanol, and will be a target area for Easy Energy’s sales efforts.

The company received its first order last December from EnergyOne, a company seeking to begin producing 2 MMgy of corn ethanol at a facility in Lake Wales, Fla. EnergyOne has since experienced financing difficulties and the project is on hold. Financing is the biggest hurdle for all of Easy Energy’s clients, Gaalswyk said, so his company plans to also put together financing packages to expedite the sales process. According to Gaalswyk, the company currently has five projects that are ready to close and more than 1,000 sales quotes for systems. Target customers for Easy Energy’s systems include facilities such as food processing plants, landfills and paper mills. “Once you start thinking of turning waste into ethanol, then the whole world opens up,” he said. “You just wouldn’t believe how much waste is out there.”

New jobs are immediately being added to the Midwestern engineering, sales and manufacturing facility in Welcome and at the demonstration and manufacturing facility in Emmetsburg. The company’s new CEO, Bill Hinz, will lead the executive team in Arizona.

Easy Energy is an affiliate of Easy Automation Inc., a Minnesota-based feed milling and grain handling software provider.