The Mad Worm Genius

Well, it seems Barabara (my new trusty worm news correspondent – haha!) has gone and outdone herself! Yesterday she pointed me in the direction of one the most interesting worm articles I’ve ever read. This one has nothing to do with worm composting, but if you happen to have any interest in the worm industry, or just generally have an entrepreneurial bone in your body, you’ll definitely want to check it out.

The article is called “A worm farm rewrites the start-up rules”, and tells the story of one Bruno Durant, a french Worm Farmer who moved his family to the U.S. in the early 90’s to start up a large-scale bait worm business (Silver Bait LLC) in Georgia (they later relocated to Tennessee). To me, that much of the story was fairly intriguing on its own – but it was the details about how he’s actually been running the operation that really blew me away.

Rather than relying on others for construction, supplies etc, he has basically done EVERYTHING (and I mean EVERYTHING) himself! Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:

French-born, 50-year-old Durant grows 300 acres of corn here, to feed his worms, and he harvests it with second-hand machinery he renovated in his onsite equipment-­maintenance building. He invented his own machinery to harvest the worms and he is about to complete work on a device that will mechanise most of the rest of the worm-­culture process.

He’s also about to put in place a full-scale packing line (designed by himself and built in his onsite machine shop). The worms are dispatched for sale in small plastic containers made in his onsite injection-moulding machine and are delivered to his customers – bait wholesalers across the ­eastern US – in his company’s refrigerated trucks. He does purchase peat from Canada as the growing medium for his worms. But that’s about all he buys in.

As the author discusses, this isn’t exactly a typical approach for setting up a thriving business venture – especially in this day and age (with increasing focus on specialization etc) – but somehow Durant has made it work, and work WELL! Here are a couple more interesting tidbits…

Although Durant is unwilling to reveal much about Silver Bait’s finances – and as it’s a privately owned company, he doesn’t have to – he is clearly making money. A truckload of worms can be worth $30,000 wholesale, and a truck is on the road to customers at least weekly. Durant employs 15 to 20 people full-time all year and adds seasonal workers to meet demand. He concedes that the business is worth ­“several ­million” dollars.

Bruno Durant, then, is to fishing worms what Wayne ­Huizenga was to rubbish collection (Waste Management, Inc) and video rentals (Blockbuster): someone who saw a fragmented, inefficient business that he could make new. Through the scale of his operation, he could bring order to the sector, gain customer loyalty as a reliable supplier and take advantage of lower production costs to turn worm farming from a near-hobby into a serious business.

Be sure to check out the full article here: “A worm farm rewrites the start-up rules

Thanks again to Barbara for the great find!

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    • John Duffy
    • April 29, 2010

    Incredible story! I applaud Mr. Durant’s tenacity, vision, and creativity. I was particularly impressed with his plywood desk. My kinda guy! I wish him HUGE success.
    It would be lovely if the goobers in Washington could follow his lead.

    • LARRY D.
    • April 29, 2010

    Sounds like,if Donald Trump and Thomas Edison had a son.You could live three lifetimes and not be able to do half of what he has done.Sounds like one amazing man.

    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • April 29, 2010

    Wow, a man who needs something built and just builds it! What a fabulous independent spirit!

    • Barb V.
    • April 29, 2010

    I note from the article that fishing is on the wane, due to economy and young people not into the sport. With that as a factor, plus his two sons may want to join their father in his business, I wonder how soon before Durant turns his energetic methods to the vermicompost market … which has a few biggies, but is still somewhat fragmented/fringe/expensive. [‘green’ eco-movement, notwithstanding]

    • Barb V.
    • May 5, 2010

    I wish the story had told more about HOW the worms are raised. I saw one photo of trays of harvested worms, but no growing beds. We know that he feeds corn, but nothing else. Oh well, still an interesting story.

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