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Former dairyman turns lemons into ‘Poop’

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

With or without a free Super Bowl ad, a former Idaho dairyman who sells refined compost, labled as "Poop," at the retail level, believes he's on to a good idea.

NAMPA, Idaho — An Idaho dairyman whose business fell on hard times has made the best of a bad situation, with the help of a few of his urban in-laws who encouraged him to sell his compost at the retail level.

Now the business they created from the remains of a shuttered dairy is on the verge of gaining national attention. “Poop — Natural Dairy Compost” is one of four finalists vying for a chance to secure a free 30-second commercial during the 2014 Super Bowl.

Glenn Vander Woude closed his dairy in February. If the Super Bowl ad materializes, his start-up retail compost business could explode overnight.

Vander Woude said he already considers the business a success. A free Super Bowl ad would be the proverbial icing on the cake.

At the urging of his brother-in-law, Scott Hartog, and cousin-in-law, Ben Bieri, Vander Woude began taking the compost left over from his dairy and running it through a specialized screener that takes out the big chunks and leaves compost as fine as coffee grinds.

They then put the finished product in a bag, called it what it is — “Poop.”

“A bag of compost is not going to catch your attention. ‘Poop,’ that catches your attention,” Vander Woude said

It’s been flying off local shelves — and could soon be flying off shelves around the nation.

“I closed up shop in February, so to be able to turn around like this, it’s a feel-good story for us,” Vander Woude said. “It’s amazing so far, to be where we’re at compared to a year ago, even if we don’t get the Super Bowl ad.”

But a free Super Bowl ad is a real possibility and the men have begun taking steps to be prepared for sudden national notoriety.

Poop was one of almost 15,000 small businesses that entered the contest sponsored by Intuit Inc. The field was narrowed to four by 8,000 Intuit employees.

Now, through Dec. 1, the voting is open to anyone in the world. People can cast their votes at www.smallbusinessbiggame.com. The winner will be announced shortly before the Feb. 2 Super Bowl.

“We’re trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves … but we’re taking steps now to be prepared in case that happens,” Vander Woude said.

Hartog hails from the banking industry and Bieri’s background is in marketing.

“Scott is our details and operations guy, I’m the creative one and Glenn is our ag guy,” Bieri said.

Vander Woude was selling his compost off Craigslist for between $15-20 a cubic yard. It’s now being sold in stores at a rate more than 20 times that amount.

“Glenn had come from an industry where the margins control the producers but now we can control the margins and they’re a lot greater this way,” Bieri said. “Even without this commercial, we think we have a pretty good idea.”


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