By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Limpert Environmental, manufacturer of all natural products for hydroseeding, erosion control and soil, is in the process of moving its facility from Litchfield to Winsted.
The company will take up residence at 550 South Third Street in the building that was once owned by Sterner Lighting.
The plant’s facility started full production on its erosion products last Wednesday, Earth Day, and should have the rest of its operation ready within two weeks, according to the company president and CEO, Warren Etches.
Limpert Environmental has only been in existence for two years. Its green products are sold throughout North America, and Canada, and it is currently working out plans to sell products in Puerto Rico and Mexico.
“We make healthier soils, which make healthier plants, making healthier people,” Etches said.
“We have green solutions that will actually work better for you,” Etches said. “You can put our product on the lawn and have your dog run out there five minutes later because it is all natural.”
“You can spray it, and your spray can hit your shrubs and roses and you will make them healthier,” Etches said.
Etches, originally a certified public accountant (CPA), is an entrepreneur who has started other businesses in plastic, running pipe, and window frames over the course of a 29 year period.
When Etches was approached for his help, by a man from South Dakota who found buffalo manure had shown miracle results when used in gardens as a fertilizer two and one-half years ago, Etches was ready to take on the challenge.
“We knew that it had great potential,” Etches said.
The bison are not fed chemicals. They are hearty and don’t need any antibiotics. These animals produce a 100-percent natural product, Etches said.
By using the buffalo manure, it was a way to help ranchers, who were having a hard time because the buffalo industry was in a downturn.
Instead of the ranchers spending money to clean feedlots, they could sell the manure and get some money back, and it would ease their financial burden, Etches said.
So they started with the question of what to do with buffalo manure?
The green industry is a big industry, so working with the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), a nonprofit corporation created to improve the economy of rural Minnesota through new uses and new markets for the state’s abundant agricultural commodities, they decided to produce what they call hydromulch.
There is no offensive odor. The manure is in compost form when it comes to the facility.
Hydromulch is used in the hydroseeding industry.
Etches brought in a couple of silent partners and together, they asked, “Where do we want to take this business?” Etches said. “Because we are in the environmental business, we decided to get into erosion control blankets and wattles.”
The erosion control blankets fit in with the mulch, according to Etches.
“Plus, it was what we really are about conserving soil and water,” Etches said.
In order to get into the blanket and wattle industry, the company needed equipment which they found in Germany.
“There are only two manufacturers in the entire world who make equipment we wanted to use to make blankets and wattles,” Etches said.
The equipment is huge and the technology highly advanced, according to Etches.
“There are other blanket manufacturers in North America, but we came in with the most modern machine built to-date. It was specified for us,” Etches said.
One of the advantages of the Limpert Environmental equipment used to make the blankets is quality control.
Every blanket weighs the same, has the right quality and amount of material, and is cut specifically.
Etches explained how an 8-foot blanket made by Limpert Environmental is really 8-feet. Other companies will make an 8-foot blanket that really measures 7.5 feet.
So, within six months, they were in full production with the mulch and blankets.
From erosion control, the business moved into soils.
They have four types of soils.
“A608 is for hydroseeding of the hydrofeeding industry, a whole new industry that we are actually leading and creating,” Etches said.
Hydroseeding is for barren land. Seed is blown onto it and then covered with mulch to grow. Hydrofeeding takes place once there is some growth.
Limpert Environmental added a potting soil amendment, highly concentrated, that is tilled into the soil, too.
“You will have results that will just knock your socks off,” Etches said.
“I tell people it is like putting plants on steroids, but in a good way,” Etches said.
”Then, we went after a retail product that everybody has heard about. That is Miracle Gro. We have our own product called BuffStuff,” Etches said.
Why move to Winsted?
Moving to Winsted from Litchfield took Etches another half-hour away from his family and home in Fargo, but he is happy with the move because the business is closer to metropolitan areas like Minneapolis, Chicago, and Des Moines.
To have trucking right next door to its facility in Winsted is a big advantage for the company, as well.
K-Way Express hauls a lot of their product to distribution centers across the country.
One of the reasons Limpert Environmental had originally moved to Litchfield was to be close to the area’s straw supply.
Straw is one of the biggest materials used by Limpert Environmental.
However, most of the straw used by Limpert Environmental now comes from Thief River Falls.
“We have actually tried a number of local producers of straw and haven’t been satisfied,” Etches said. “Most farmers haven’t got the right equipment. We are very specific for what we produce. Straw has to be a certain length, it has to be clean, it has to be dry, and we can consume a lot.”
Limpert Environmental currently employs 10 people. Etches estimates it will have a staff of 25 people within two years.
Plans are to use 100 percent of the 45,000-square-foot building on Third Street.
The company has expanded the offices, replaced wall coverings, put up new ceiling, and laid new carpet, in addition to upgrading the wiring.
Something to watch for is a community garden Limpert Environmental will plant this spring.
Using their products to show the effect on plants and flowers, a garden will be planted at its facility.
“It is a way of giving back to the community,” Etches said.
Once the garden begins to produce fruit, anyone is welcome to come and pick vegetables, and maybe pull a weed or two, at any time this summer.
Limpert Environmental sells its products through distribution centers.
Anyone interested in contacting them should go to its web site at www.limpertenvironmental.com.
A little background on Etches
Warren Etches is originally from Canada growing up in Windsor in Toronto. The family moved to the US about 12 years ago.
He is married to Ingrid and they have five children: Brittany, 23; Serena, 21; Jarrett, 15; Bentley, 14; and Colden, 10.
The family resides in Fargo ND.
“We are all hockey nuts. That is what I have done for a lot of years is coach hockey,” Etches said.
“I have been involved with hockey for 46 years. I am very active in USA hockey and AAA.”
Etches began playing hockey when he was just 5 years old.
He began coaching hockey eight years after he suffered a spinal cord injury which happened during a hockey game.
“I was 23 and that ended everything for me. For eight years, I did not go back on the ice,” Etches said.
At the time of his injury, he had just signed a contract to play NHL hockey for the Detroit Red Wings, and had to give up his hockey career.