“I feel so much more comfortable looking at the numbers in BlackLine, versus looking in the binder.”

Aemetis, Inc. is an advanced renewable fuels and biochemicals company focused on the production of advanced fuels and chemicals through the acquisition, development, and commercialization of innovative technologies that replace traditional petroleum-based products by conversion of first-generation ethanol and biodiesel plants into advanced Biorefineries. Aemetis owns and operates facilities in California and India.

The Challenge

Competition in the renewable fuel industry is fierce, making for very thin margins. “We’re competing with 200 plants across the country, and we’re all trying to produce fuel at the lowest cost,” said Todd Waltz, CFO at Aemetis. “We have to be vigilant about our cost structure, and any new tools or processes must either make our work more efficient or more effective.”

Yet the company’s existing financial close was neither. The almost entirely paper-based process hampered efficiency, visibility, and accountability—and kept the lean team of 12 working late nights​ during the close, managing multiple binders and too many Excel spreadsheets. “To close my books, it took me almost a month simply to review everything,” said Jyothi Tammineni, Director of Accounting at Aemetis. “There was always the chance I missed a few things. I really didn’t know what was going on with some of the balances.”

A lack of standardization also created more work for the small team. “We would receive the close package from India, but they were using a completely different ERP and close checklist than we were. That required yet another binder.”

The team began the search for a new solution, one that would both support Aemetis’ internal control program and enable a paperless close. Other selection criteria included price, implementation costs, and analytic capabilities.

Why BlackLine

“We knew we needed a tool that would be easy for our team to use and incorporate into their day-to-day work,” said Nilam Panchal, North America Controller at Aemetis. “We also insisted on partnering with a vendor who would provide excellent customer service and be willing to negotiate.”

Most importantly, any new solution had to work seamlessly with QuickBooks, instead of a large enterprise ERP. “We’re not a small company—we generate 150 million in revenue each year worldwide—but we run a small finance team, and rely on QuickBooks Enterprise for our accounting system.”

Aemetis implemented BlackLine’s Account Reconciliations, Task Management, and Journal Entry. “As we were validating potential solutions, BlackLine kept coming out on top. The vendors we first considered came out on the bottom,” said Panchal. “And BlackLine really worked with us regarding a cost strategy. We were able to implement BlackLine within our budget constraints.”

Download the Aemetis Success Story to read the results and lessons learned.