Entrepreneur of the Year, Two Rising Stars Named


Mark Tegan and Dr. Rusty Sutterlin, founders of Inventure Renewables, were named the H. Pettus Randall Entrepreneurs of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama at a luncheon ceremony held Wednesday, December 7 at Hotel Capstone. The award is named in honor of local entrepreneur H. Pettus Randall, III, who built Randall Publishing, now Randall Reilly, into one of the 25 largest publishing companies in America. Randall passed away in 2002.

Their company has pioneered a method in which basic waste biomass with a low value is transformed into high-value biofuels, biochemical and biomaterials. Their nearly 40 Ph.D. chemists and chemical engineers take the byproducts of a chemical process, break it down to determine what it is exactly chemically, then invent a way to transform it chemically to a higher value product that can then be sold for a profit.

Inventure Renewables was a resident in the University of Alabama’s AIME technology incubator until 2013, at which time the company graduated to a 30,000-square-foot facility near downtown Tuscaloosa. “Seeing a Tuscaloosa company create and commercialize cutting-edge technology is satisfying,” says Al Spencer, Vice President for Economic Development and Public Policy for the Chamber. “Inventure Renewables is creating high-tech jobs that keep top University of Alabama tech grads in our community – improving our local economy.”

One of the processes Inventure Renewables invented allows for the chemical retention of heat. This process has been introduced into vests to maintain the body temperature of premature babies in third world countries where there is limited access to incubators. Since its introduction, this process has been credited with saving 10,000 lives.

The Chamber also presented two Rising Star Awards. The Rising Star is given to a young, growing business in the community.

This year’s recipients are Cahaba Truck & Equipment Company owner Paxton Estes, who is applying new technology to products for the railroad industry, resulting in major increases in efficiency; and Kinematic Sports founders Jared Cassity, Patrick Powell and Jeff Allen, who collaborated to develop the SidelinER tent for Alabama Athletics, which now affords privacy for sideline medical evaluations at NCAA, NFL and high school sporting events. They have already sold more than 50 SidelinERs.

“It is great for our community to see the growth and innovation represented by these Rising Star winners,” says Bobby Bragg, Chairman of the Chamber’s Entrepreneur of the Year Committee. “They have taken nascent ideas, refined them and turned them into fantastic businesses. “They have invested in their own ideas, changed their industry and in Kinematic’s case, created a completely new industry. They are employing West Alabama workers and adding to our economy. I’m very proud of all of our winners.”

From left, Inventure Renewables COO John Brown and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Rusty Sutterlin are presented with the Entrepreneur of the Year award by Bobby Bragg, the Chamber’s Vice Chairman for Economic Development, and Al Spencer, Vice President for Economic Development and Public Policy for the Chamber.


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