Lightner named CEO of Platinum Crush soy-processing plant in Iowa
Erik Lightner, an ag-industry professional with nearly 30 years of experience in oilseed processing and engineering, has been named CEO of Platinum Crush LLC, the new $350 million soybean-crushing plant under construction near Alta, Iowa, in Buena Vista County.
“Platinum Crush will offer a market for locally grown and locally processed soybeans, plus it has the ability to be nimble to respond to market needs,” Lightner said. “I’m excited to help Platinum Crush maximize these opportunities.”
When Platinum Crush becomes operational in spring 2024, it will crush 38.5 million bushels of soybeans annually, or 110,000 bushels daily. It will also create 50 to 60 high-quality jobs.
Before joining Platinum Crush, Lightner served as vice president of international construction and manufacturing for Haskell, a Florida-based architecture, engineering, construction and consulting firm.
Lightner also spent 21 years of his career with Archer Daniels Midland Co.
While he has overseen many international-business operations across North America, the U.K. and Asia Pacific, he’s looking forward to returning to the Midwest.
“My previous roles in oilseed processing and refining, flour milling, cocoa and chocolate, and corn processing have taken me all across the Midwest, including Decatur, Illinois; Kansas City, Missouri; and Lincoln, Nebraska; as well as across the globe,” said Lightner, a Pittsburgh native who earned his chemical-engineering degree from Penn State University. “While ADM is a massive company, many of their plants are operated and measured on their individual performances, similar to Platinum Crush.”
Platinum Crush also reminds Lightner of a large processing facility in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he led teams dedicated to construction, commissioning and operations during his time at ADM.
“While this plant supplied cocoa and chocolate products to customers, it has many parallels to Platinum,” he said. “It’s a large greenfield site, it’s a $300-million-plus facility, and it hires local people. I look forward to taking what I’ve learned from all these previous experiences and applying them to build a culture of safety, quality and community at Platinum.”
The Platinum Crush board of managers set the bar extremely high as they outlined expectations for the facility’s CEO, noted Mike Kinley, co-founder and member of Platinum Crush.
“Just as we’ve located, designed and built Platinum Crush to be first in class, we expect nothing short of that in our CEO,” Kinley said. “Erik Lightner delivers on that expectation, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have chosen him as our leader. He brings the experience, track record and cultural values we want to mold Platinum Crush into a significant player.”
Platinum Crush will produce 847,000 tons of soybean meal per year (2,420 tons per day) for livestock-feed markets, 450 million pounds of crude soybean oil per year (1.28 million pounds per day), and 77,000 tons of pelleted soybean hulls per year (220 tons per day). The soymeal and soy hulls, which contain highly digestible fiber, will be used in livestock feed rations.
Soybean oil from Platinum Crush can be used for a variety of applications, including the human-food industry and the rapidly expanding renewable diesel sector.
Lightner said he looks forward to helping Platinum Crush propel value-added agriculture forward in Iowa.
“This plant will supply critical ingredients for food, feed and fuel products and will also bring the surrounding areas into the center of the global supply chain,” he said.