A Remarkable Journey from Waste to Resource, Pioneering Environmental Sustainability, and Agricultural Excellence
1999: The Foundation
The history of GreenTechnologies, LLC begins with a classic theme: behind every problem is a hidden opportunity. In the late 1990s, biosolids – the organic byproduct of wastewater treatment – were largely ignored, discarded through incineration or haphazardly relegated to landfills. The valuable nutrients contained within these biosolids were treated as a nuisance rather than a resource, resulting in detrimental pollution of both air and water. “No one was paying attention to the valuable nutrients locked within biosolids. It was disheartening to witness the pollution caused by mismanagement of this resource”, co-founder and CEO Dr. Amir Varshovi recalls.
Armed with decades of experience in research, a PhD in soil and water sciences and the help of a friend, Dr. Varhovi’s journey began in 1999. With the help of co-founder Marla Buchanan, a University of Florida law student at the time, he embarked on an entrepreneurial mission to change the industry by forming GreenTechnologies, LLC. Varshovi quickly set to work developing the first prototype of what is now GreenEdge slow-release fertilizer. His vision was to transform “waste” into something valuable, a resource that could address both agricultural needs and environmental concerns.
“I remember I started in my garage. Eventually, my ‘lab’ had spread its way into the kitchen. That’s when my wife finally said ‘Hey buddy, you need to get your own space,’” Dr. Varshovi remembers with a chuckle. He and his wife secured a second mortgage to support the research, but the initial funds were quickly used for equipment acquisitions. However, a timely $50,000 injection from the U.S. Small Business Administration provided essential working capital.
2001 – 2002: Milestones in Business Development
With the legal expertise from Ms. Buchanan, a major milestone was achieved when the company was granted its first patent for converting organic waste into an enhanced-efficiency fertilizer. Varshovi fine-tuned a process that not only captured the essential nutrients from biosolids but also enhanced their effectiveness in nourishing plants. “Nature has its own cycles; we just need to tap into them intelligently,” he notes.
The company’s second watershed moment arrived in 2001, when the co-founders successfully negotiated with the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) for the essential byproducts required for the fertilizer manufacturing. “Prior to 2002, we incinerated the sludge byproduct. In 2002, these sludge incinerators were converted to a biosolids (pelletized fertilizer) facility,” reads the JEA website. “We market our biosolids through GreenTechnologies under the brand name GreenEdge®.”
2001 – 2012: Market Expansion and Recognition
With major development underway, Amir and Marla next set out to win the attention of GreenTechnologies’ first customers. [Quote about traveling, going in the mornings, etc]
The bio-based GreenEdge(R) fertilizer products continued to grow in popularity, especially for golf courses in the Southeast. [Quote from customer] By the end of 2002, GreenTechnologies was selling to over 100 golf courses in the state of Florida.
In 2005, the years of relentless dedication were realized with the opening of a 25-acre fertilizer manufacturing plant located on Highway 301 between Gainesville and Jacksonville, FL. Sales continued to grow steadily over the following decade.
2012: From Local Triumphs to Global Impact
In 2012, co-founders Dr. Amir Varshovi and Marla Buchanan, Esq. recognized another major opportunity for the company, specifically exports to South America. They participated in an SBA pilot program with the Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida to develop an export marketing plan. Buchanan notes the strategy in these international efforts, smoothing out the seasonal fluctuations inherent in the fertilizer industry. “Obviously in the spring and fall, we have very strong sales, and in the summer and winter, sales tend to drop off. Going to Latin America helps even out the seasonality of our product line,” she observes.
Since then, GreenTechnologies has held long-standing partnerships with distributors in South America serving Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Peru.
2013 – 2016: National Recognition for Growth and Excellence
In 2013, GreenTechnologies cleared the $2 million annual revenue mark and by 2014, GreenTechnologies was gaining national recognition. Dr. Varshovi’s pioneering work was recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration, naming him the State of Florida Small Business Person of the Year. GreenTechnologies landed on Inc. 5000’s 2014 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Manufacturing, and the company received the FWEA Award for Biosolids Residuals Program Excellence in both 2014 and 2016.
In 2015, GreenTechnologies’ success stories continued with an Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) Phase I award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) followed by a Phase II award in 2016. The company also landed a spot on the University of Florida’s Gator100 Fastest Growing Gator Businesses list in 2015.
2017 – 2023: A Focus on Research
With the first patent’s expiration looming overhead, Dr. Varshovi set out to develop a new technology to make bio-based fertilizers even more efficient while still remaining affordable for customers. In 2019, a second patent was awarded for a new reactive mineral layer coating and in 2020, a third patent was granted for another variation of the technology. In 2021 and 2022, GreenTechnologies was awarded the USDA SBIR Phase I and II research grants to develop and commercialize the new coating technology. The company has since began pilot scale production of the new GreenEdge RLC products.
In 2021, GreenTechnologies also opened a second office for research and business development in Gainesville, FL at the UF Innovate business incubator. The goal for the new Gainesville office was to reach new talent coming out of the University of Florida and leverage the resources provided by the incubator program to help grow the company even further. Since then, GreenTechnologies has added two students to the team for business development and a third to assist with lab work. “It’s a great way for our team to gain fresh ideas and it gives students a really unique opportunity to be a part of something meaningful outside of the classroom,” adds Dr. Varshovi.
In 2022, GreenTechnologies was also awarded the Sustainable Earth Small Business Award from Arizona State University for the company’s decades of environmental stewardship, especially in reducing phosphorus run-off from fertilizer application.
GreenTechnologies’ upcoming 25-year anniversary isn’t just about looking back; it’s a celebration of possibilities yet to be unlocked. With a commitment to innovation, a dedication to sustainability, and a vision for a greener world, GreenTechnologies continues to develop technology to unlock the nutrient value in waste products with promising new projects currently underway.
About GreenTechnologies, LLC:
GreenTechnologies is a bio-based fertilizer manufacturer with a strong legacy of excellence and innovation in the agriculture sector. GreenEdge® is the company’s patented line of enhanced-efficiency fertilizer. GreenEdge® fertilizer recycles nutrients from local sources to create high-quality and environmentally friendly fertilizer. With an unwavering dedication to research and development, GreenTechnologies is at the forefront of revolutionizing the global fertilizer industry. GreenEdge® products are USDA Certified Biobased Preferred.
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