August Business of the Month: Bright Agrotech
Callused hands, long days and intense work with advanced machinery are all elements of a working farm. A similar sentence could describe a new kind of farming. Callused hands from installing farms, long days shipping out equipment, intense work making sales, and advanced technology behind it all. This new kind of farming is all backed by local Laramie start up Bright Agrotech.
We stopped in to get a sense of the working environment and the daily operations of Bright Agrotech. CEO and Co-founder Chris Michael sat down with us in the only quiet room we could find, the break room. After our visit with Michael, it makes sense why the break room was the only quiet room in the building. The work ethic unique to Wyoming is an essential part of the company as a whole.
“The Wyoming ethic, values and grit are all aligned,” said Michael describing the work environment. “The pace is intense, but aligned.”
This is the certain grit and ethic Bright Agrotech hopes for all its employees to have, elements that play into the importance of its future.
Bright Agrotech recently merged with San Francisco based company Plenty, making worldwide news and raising several questions. Michael said the 40 positions Bright Agrotech has created in the past 5 years will stay in Laramie.
“We’re in such a brand new industry that the experience that our team has developed over the last 5 years, whether it’s helping the farmers start businesses, market their products, or it’s building the machinery itself, it’s all just invaluable to what plenty is trying to do out in south San Fransisco,” Michael said, “so they’re really acquiring the team more than anything else.”
With the work ethic found in the west and the type of jobs the company will be hiring for, it only makes sense to keep hiring here, said Michael. The drive and grit developed over the past five years will not be taken out of Laramie and the acquisition’s impact shows positive with no slowing in the growth and hiring rate.
“I would imagine we’ll be hiring a lot more folks and building a lot more buildings,” said Michael.
While growth is important, Michael also knows the importance of involving the company in the community. Bright Agrotech attends local expos and has installed systems in several classrooms across town.
Another way the company gets involved is partnering with local businesses through its Farm Walls in downtown Laramie.
“It’s just a fun thing we do and a way to get some exposure to Laramie,” said Michael.
Michael explained the walls are sometimes maintained by the company that owns them, or Bright Agrotech can maintain the walls for the company. Then the food can be used by the Farm Wall owner or is donated to a local food pantry.
“We’re looking to expand to 20 to 50 locations around Laramie next summer,” said Michael.
While growth is obvious on all fronts, and Michael mentioned new buildings in the future, one new building is currently under construction. Through a partnership with the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance, Bright Agrotech will be leasing land and a new building from the LCBA with the option to purchase in the future.
“The building is projected to be finished in the end of December,” said LCBA VP of Economic Development Josh Boudreau. “Right now, structural steel is up and they are framing exterior walls.”
The building will have a dedicated room for a farm and a dedicated research and development area said Boudreau.
“There’s lots of benefits being part of the LCBA,” said Michael. “We have been able to connect with a lot of opportunities and JJ and Josh have been great advocates for us.”
Over the past five years, Bright Agrotech grew from CEO and Co-Founder Nate Storey’s dissertation project to now selling globally and installing nationally.
Michael said the company changed directions a few times, as it was growing from a garage to a storage unit and into its current location. Bright Agrotech has grown into a one of kind business model holding industry secrets and creating unparalleled technologies, and it continues to grow local produce and fruitful opportunities in its hometown of Laramie.