In the News

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June 1, 2011
Jerry W. Horton, Founder of Sweetwater Energy, Retires

Jerry W. Horton, founder and president of Sweetwater Energy, announced his retirement this month. Horton launched Sweetwater in 2006 under the name SweetWater Ethanol, LLC with the intention of advancing a decentralized business model he developed to allow farmers to produce ethanol from crops right on their farms. Though farmers currently make fair revenue selling their corn to ethanol refineries, Horton’s vision was to use his background in food-process engineering and plant automation, as well as his 25 years as a cattle farmer, to streamline the process in a way that removed most of the transportation and energy costs that plague today’s industry.

As Horton developed the concept, he refocused the company on producing sugar—which can be a key precursor for ethanol as well as for many types of other biofuels, biochemicals and bioplastics. In doing so, he changed the company’s name to Sweetwater Energy to encompass the full spectrum of biofuels and energy-saving efforts in which the company is now engaging. To expand on the company’s new vision, Horton hired Jack Baron as CEO, and the new Sweetwater Energy officially incorporated in 2009.

“Since I first met Jerry and heard him articulate his vision, I’ve been impressed by his tenacity,” says Baron. “For years he pushed forward, broadening his chemical understanding and his business acumen. Jerry stuck with it regardless of the challenges and never lost belief in himself. Now his vision is being realized; he’s determination personified.”

Prior to starting Sweetwater, Horton’s career spanned several industries. He has 19 years of experience performing equipment modifications, process development for the production of new products, project management and maintenance management for General Mills and General Foods, which is now part of Kraft Foods. In 1988, Horton began a second career: 17 years in sales and sales management of electrical industrial equipment and plant automation equipment. Over the course of his career, he has been involved in the design, development and modification of several hundred industrial control, process control and machine automation systems. He also owns an active farm, raising registered Simmental cattle, and is on the board of directors of the New York Simmental Association. Horton was an aircraft electrician in the United States Air Force and, after six years of service, was honorably discharged in 1973.

Horton remains a Sweetwater shareholder and an active member of the company’s board of directors. He also plans to continue raising cattle on his Tennessee farm and to pursue new entrepreneurial ideas and ventures.


Sweetwater Energy uses a unique technology for producing low-cost nanofibrillated cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, sugars, and clean lignin from non-food plant materials to help meet the modern world's increasing bioenergy and biochemical demands.

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