Growing Our Company and the Biodiesel Industry

The roots of Renewable Energy Group go back more than two decades to when we operated under the umbrella of West Central Cooperative in Ralston, Iowa. Our history parallels that of the biodiesel industry as a whole: When we made our first batch of biodiesel in 1996, the industry was still in its early stages, a niche market with a potential few foresaw. While our leaders grew the company carefully and consistently by finding opportunity within challenges, they also advocated for the biodiesel industry as a whole, often working with competitors for the greater good. Today, REG is the largest biodiesel producer by volume in the United States — as well as a producer and supplier of many other products — and continues to contribute resources and leadership to biofuel advocacy groups worldwide.

E-Book Download and Link

To learn how an idea born of necessity in rural Iowa traveled a sometimes-rocky road on its way to becoming the number one producer of biodiesel in the U.S., read an online version of our company history book, "Enabling a Cleaner World: The History of Renewable Energy Group, 1995-2015."

View or Download E-Book

A Look Back at How We Got Here

REG can trace its roots back more than two decades, when we operated under the umbrella of West Central Cooperative in Iowa. We grew along with the fledgling biodiesel industry, and in August 2006, Renewable Energy Group, Inc., was formed as an independent corporation. Now we’re North America’s largest producer of biodiesel and a global company.


  • First methyl ester plant built in Ralston, Iowa, as a way to add value to co-op members' grain.


  • West Central begins marketing SoyPOWER brand premium biodiesel fuel.


  • West Central opens one of the world's largest continuous flow processing plants for processing soybean oil into biodiesel fuel in Ralston.


  • West Central launches Renewable Energy Group, LLC.


  • In cooperation with Iowa State University, West Central receives a $1.19 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study and develop new technologies for the production of methyl esters.


  • Forms Renewable Energy Group, Inc.
  • REG raises $100 million private equity — at the time the largest investment in the biodiesel industry.


  • Introduces REG-9000 Biodiesel brand and quality specifications.


  • Acquires biorefineries in Danville and Seneca, Illinois; Newton, Iowa; and Clovis, New Mexico.
  • Acquires Tellurian Biodiesel and American BDF.


  • Acquires biorefinery in Albert Lea, Minnesota.


  • REG goes public and begins trading on NASDAQ.
  • Reaches $1 billion in annual revenue for the first time.
  • Acquires biorefineries in New Boston, Texas, and Atlanta.


  • Acquires biorefinery in Mason City, Iowa.


  • Sells 1 billionth gallon of biomass-based diesel.
  • Acquires majority stake in German biodiesel producer Petrotec AG.
  • Acquires renewable diesel production facility in Geismar, Louisiana.
  • Acquires renewable chemical technology developer LS9 along with its demonstration production facility in Okeechobee, Florida — creating REG Life Sciences, LLC.


  • Acquires biorefinery in Grays Harbor, Washington.


  • Reaches $2 billion in annual revenue for the first time.
  • Acquires biorefinery in DeForest, Wisconsin.
  • Delivers first commercial product, a specialty fatty acid, from REG Life Sciences. 


  • Sells 2 billionth gallon of biomass-based diesel. 
  • Acquires full ownership of Petrotec AG, which includes two biorefineries and a feedstock collection and processing facility.


  • Launches REG Ultra Clean® Diesel, a blend of biodiesel and renewable diesel


  • Cynthia (CJ) Warner becomes President and Chief Executive Officer
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Moving Fuel Forward in the 21st Century

A lot has changed in the 20-plus years of our company's history, but the pioneering spirit of REG has remained the same. By taking the long view, investing in the future of our company and industry, taking calculated risks, and continuously improving everything from refining processes to logistics to research and development, REG has become the driving force to move fuel forward to a more sustainable future.