Go goats: Brush removal company wins 'Shark' competition
10/24/2017 04:27PM ● Published by Richard Gaw
Petunia, Pumpkin, Ralph, Ricky, Pluto, Remington, Porter, Pandora, Primrose and Petey were among the 23 employees of Green Grazer Goats who worked to clear the thick brush behind the Luther House in Jennersville recently.
Although they occasionally took breaks, there were no complaints, no requests for additional vacation days and no demands that their bosses – Kalyn Butt and Kevin Conner – review their compensation package. Instead, they plodded on silently, yard by yard, working and eating beneath the October sun. Each employee persisted with the slow, plodding consistency of goats chewing their way through a patch of ground because, well, that's what they are.
They're goats, and they now belong to a company that's about to get a whole lot larger.
On Sept. 26, following a three-minute presentation by Butt and Conner, Green Grazer Goats won the Emerging Enterprise Center's Swim with the Sharks Video Pitch Competition, winning more than $22,000 in cash and services. In addition to a cash prize of $14,500, Green Grazer Goats received $3,125 in legal fee services from Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor, LLP; $2,500 in professional services from William Humphreys & Co.; $2,500 in professional services from Placers; a six-month membership in the Emerging Enterprise Center Virtual Incubation Program, valued at $1,800; a New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Marketing Package, valued at $1,400; and a one-year membership in the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, valued at $350.
Based in Wilmington, the Emerging Enterprise Center helps start-up business owners learn essential entrepreneurial skills, grow their business and develop a long-term, sustainable model.
“They gave us certain criteria in terms of what they were looking for, not only about our business, but specific plans for our future,” Butt said. “I looked at the criteria and I laid out every single thing I thought was important for them to know about us, particularly our value proposition – the reason why someone should choose managed goat grazing over other services, like landscaping and the use of herbicides.
“I had to cut it back because I only had three minutes to speak, so we had to fine tune exactly what it was that I thought was important for everybody to know about managed goat grazing.”
When she was a teenager, Butt belonged to Future Farmers of America, and when she turned 16 years old, she asked for a goat for her birthday.
“I was researching them, and I'd read that people were using goats to clear brush to reduce the capacity of wild fires to spread,” said Butt, 24, a graduate of Wilmington University. “It was an amazing idea, and in my teenaged, hare-brained mind, I wanted to start a business and work with goats and call it Green Grazers. Everyone thought I was crazy, and I thought I was crazy, too.”
Butt and Conner began the Chester County-based company six months ago, and it's caught in a groundswell movement towards environmentally friendly businesses. All across the nation, managed goat grazing services are moving herd after herd to help eradicate invasive plants like florabunda rose, poison ivy and kudzu vine. It's not only better for the environment, it's saving money. Nationwide, taxpayers and private landowners spend $34 billion a year on reducing invasive plants on private properties, municipal land and farmland.
Butt said that hiring a managed goat grazing service costs $1,500 less per acre to clear brush than using a standard landscaping company. Green Grazer Goats has done work for Manfredi Mushrooms in Toughkenamon, the Turkey Point Vineyard in Northeast, Md., as well as several Chester County property owners and farms.
Butt said that most of the funding from the competition will go toward the purchase of 25 new goats, which will bring the company's “employee” base close to 60, which will allow Butt and Conner to manage two herds. Additional prize money will be spent for the purchase of solar energizers, electric fencing and posts and stakes, and additional veterinary care.
“There are so many eco-friendly aspects to using goats,” she said. “Goats create a very small carbon footprint, do not require toxic chemicals, and in fact, goats stabilize the soil, rather than help erode it, which can happen with standard removal processes, using machinery like landscaping and the use of herbicides.
“As a bonus, our customers get to look at goats instead of listening to gas-powered machines all day.”
To learn more about Green Grazer Goats, visit greengrazergoats on Facebook, or call 484-643-6939.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.