Russ Britton started his sustainable landscape products company with a star-studded partnership and plans to continue to grow his locally based firm through additional business relationships with industry leaders.
Britton left the life of working as a broker to begin Eco Express LLC, an erosion control and ground stabilization contracting company, in 2003.
A decade later, Mirimichi Green Express LLC was formed by singer Justin Timberlake’s Mirimichi Green, which emerged from his formerly- owned eco-driven Mirimichi Golf Course, and Eco Express to develop professional landscaping products, such as organic fertilizers.
That partnership formed the Castle Hayne-headquartered company, with a mission to develop, manufacture and market breakthrough turf, tree and soil care products for professionals, said Britton, CEO of Mirimichi Green.
“My true goal for the whole company is just to show that organics can perform better than synthetics. And we have found ways to make that happen,” he said.
The formation of Mirimichi Green was an opportunity to build a “legacy brand” for Timberlake and Britton’s entity to introduce a line of sustainable landscape products to the world, Britton said.
Mirimichi Green, in which Timberlake is part owner, has since become a multi-million-dollar company, and “at a minimum, I see to be the $30-to- $50-million-plus company in the next three to four years,” Britton said.
The company’s offices and most of its bottling operations are in Castle Hayne, with manufacturing in Clinton and a partner manufacturer in Utah. Mirimichi Green’s line of environmentally sustainable products it manufactures, including soil amendments, bio-stimulants, liquid fertilizers, weed and grass control and all-natural pesticides, are sold throughout the United States and in Asia. And its products are anticipated to hit additional international markets soon, Britton said.
Mirimichi Green has a total of 30 employees, with 15 in Wilmington.
Now the company is looking to expand manufacturing in other states, Britton said.
In North Carolina, Britton said, Mirimichi Green is currently seeking grants and loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build a manufacturing facility at its 8-acre site in Castle Hayne and expand manufacturing in Clinton.
The N.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) recently recognized the company. In September, Mirimichi Green received the 2017 NCMEP Leadership Award in Sustainable Manufacturing during an annual conference.
On top of still being in the golf course market, the company’s products also are being used on fields for the National Football League and Major League Baseball as well as on equestrian fields, Britton said.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation announced earlier this year that Mirimichi Green was a sponsor of U.S. Equestrian and an official partner and cross-country course sponsor for the Kentucky Three-Day Event.
Mirimichi Green products have been proven to be effective in a range of environments and across many different industries with landscaping needs, Britton said.
“We have a saying around here, ‘You have to win on price and performance, but it always has to be green too.’ We are determined to make a difference. There’s got to be value in everything we do,” he said.
Landscape maintenance is becoming increasingly important for corporations and government institutions, Britton said, with the expense of maintaining landscape assets being affected by water, labor and material costs.
“The total costs of landscape maintenance should not be ignored,” Britton said, adding that Mirimichi Green targets a 50 percent cost reduction goal for water, fertilizer, labor and repair orders.
Mirimichi Green products are carried by about a dozen distributors – including two major companies in the industry, SiteOne and Ewing – in hundreds of stores nationwide, Britton said.
Mirimichi Green’s partnership with SiteOne, a landscape supply company, has been a success for the company, and additional partnerships will push product reach into the market even further, Britton said.
“We believe in partnerships. We just made the decision that you can reach a lot more people through partnerships,” he said, adding that those deals are important when “you try to change an industry.”
“One thing that we’ve done to be successful: Take a complicated market and find simple solutions that are affordable and good for the environment,” Britton said.
And out of all the fertilizers and chemicals, Mirimichi Green’s products “really eliminate so many issues,” Britton said. “It’s easy for the user and the results are good.”
Britton, a native of North Carolina, where agriculture has been a strong industry, said Mirimichi Green could soon launch its branch out into the bio-agricultural industry, which includes farming practices and systems that rely on biological and ecological processes that are renewable and non-polluting.
In addition, he said, he would like to see the state become the leading supplier of organic nutrients in the Southeast.
Britton said the company has a chance to “really convince the professionals to use sustainable products, and we have to define that they have to be sustainable.”
“The year 2018 will be a promising year to really … start making a foothold in verticals we want to be national leaders in,” he said. “We’ve got the partners to do it. I think we have the marketing channels to do it, and now we’re just deciding the way we are going to do it.”
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