For Cathy Horton, it all started with Ohio-grown soybeans. In 2007, she set out to build Nutek, a company that manufactures environmentally friendly industrial and commercial lubricants and cleaning products.
In three years, Horton led the company to develop more than 40 products using bio-based, nontoxic ingredients with recyclable packaging. Today, Nutek’s products Bolt Off and Lubfix are on the shelves of retailers nationwide, displacing traditional brands, such as Liquid Wrench and WD-40.
Magic beans. This from-the-farm, for-the-farm success story can be traced back to its roots in the soybean fields of Ohio and an initial investment from 31 farmers with seed money for the company.
"The soybean is the magic bean," Horton says. "Its properties as a lubricant are incredible, and it can be seven times more lubricious than petroleum. Also, it doesn’t fail under heat or pressure. I gave the farmers who were considering investing in my company samples to use, and they returned with positive feedback and an injection of cash for my business."
Horton says her agrarian roots—she was raised on a 300-acre grape vineyard—focused her commitment to build a new product for the agricul-tural community.
The cooperative network of Mercer Landmark Inc., helps Horton source the soybean oil. She reports that many of the farmers who supply soybean oil use no-till production, Roundup Ready seed, GPS application technologies and other production practices that add value to Nutek products as being environmentally friendly.
The company’s soy usage has grown 10 times in the past year.
"The soybean oil we use is naturally extruded with heat and not chemicals," she says. "I went out of the way to defeat any argument that this wasn’t a green product."
The products are packaged in recyclable aluminum containers that use nitrogen as the propellant instead of carbon dioxide.
Nutek has patented putting its green Simply Soy lube on a biodegradable cloth so that it can be used to wipe down ag machinery. The cloth wipes can also be used to clean and lubricate chains instead of spraying the lubricant and wasting product.
In July 2010, Nutek was acquired by cleaning products company Hoover.
"This acquisition will help our company become a global success story," Horton says. "We will continue to develop new products. One of the industries with huge promise for us to serve is the automotive industry. We’re recently developed and placed in AutoZone a nontoxic brake cleaner and brake dust eater."
You can find Nutek products nationwide at Ace Hardware, Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Home Depot, Kroger, Northern Tool + Equipment, Tractor Supply Company, True Value and 30 stores in the cooperative network of Mercer Landmark. The full lineup of Nutek products is also available online at www.nutekgreen.com.
"I know what it means to build a financial future in farming," Horton says.
"I encourage farmers to continue to innovate on their farms and to find new ways to commercialize what they grow," she adds. "When farmers come together in cooperation with one
another, it’s an authentic voice and a powerful action group."