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Fueling Growth

A billion-dollar opportunity inspired some resourceful brothers to find a funding shortcut.

By David Worrell

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Brothers Tom and Neil Koehler got into the renewable energybusiness long before being green was cool. Now their company,Pacific Ethanol, is red-hot. When recent changes in California lawcreated an instant billion-gallon demand for ethanol, the brothersimmediately drew up plans for a network of new ethanol productionplants.

Their first plan to raise the $50 million needed for each plantwas an IPO, but that would have taken too long. So in March,Pacific Ethanol purchased a defunct public company shell, allowingthe Koehlers to sell over $21 million in stock to publicinvestors--not bad for a 24-person company.

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