A Texas-based company is building a new $15 million manufacturing plant in northwest Iowa to turn corn stover biomass into shipping pallets. 

Corn Board Manufacturing, founded by Iowa native Lane Segerstrom, recently announced plans to build the 50,000-square-foot facility west of Odebolt in Sac County. The company converts corn leaves, stalks and husks into a pressed wood alternative called CornBoard. 

“Corn Board Manufacturing Inc. is designing pallets, furniture, building materials, skis and even snowboards from a product that requires low to no carbon waste,” explained Segerstrom. “We are able to build these manufacturing facilities right in the middle of the Corn Belt, providing thousands of jobs, securing thousands more and creating a no-waste solution for everyday products our nation needs to keep moving forward.”

The Sac County plant will focus production on making pallets that have the same, if not stronger, structural integrity as traditional wood pallets but weigh less. The company also makes and sells ski, snow and skateboard equipment under the Stalk It brand name.

Environmentally friendly

By using corn stover, Corn Board aims to reduce the need to harvest trees to manufacture pressed board products. The company says 1 million acres of forests in the U.S. are cut down annually to make pallets, which are often only used one time.

About 50,000 corn stover bales will be needed to supply the Odeboldt factory annually, providing an income boost for area farmers, said Segerstrom, who is a native of nearby Ida Grove. 

The company will bale and transport the stover, removing 18% to 20% of the corn biomass remaining after harvest. The stover is then mixed with a resin and bonded under heat and pressure to manufacture CornBoard products, which have similar structural properties to OSB (oriented strand board) pressed wood products. 

“With our legacy of leadership in manufacturing, deep agricultural roots and a commitment to conserving our natural resources, Iowa is a great match for this great company,” said Debi Durham, ex­­ecutive director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority. 

Sac County officials worked with Corn Board Manufacturing for more than a year to land the project. Construction is expected to start next spring, and the facility will employ 25 to 30 people when completed.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for not only Sac County, but also for our region and our state,” said Brandy Ripley, executive dir­ector of Sac County Economic and Tourism Development.

McMahon Associates of Wisconsin is designing and overseeing construction of the project. 

“This project is one of the most specialized and innovative projects we’ve ever had the privilege of working on,” said Paul Benedict, president at McMahon Associates Inc. “CornBoard is offering a truly innovative product that’s nothing like anything else on the market. It’s a real game changer for the environment, jobs in rural America and additional revenue sources for farmers in the Corn Belt.”