Randy Kreider grew up in Lancaster, a quaint small town in rural eastern Pennsylvania. Unless you're inside the urban boundaries of Philadelphia, most of this half of the state is economically driven by agriculture and other natural products. As the owner of Kreider Mulch, Randy has been able to capitalize on those opportunities, turning this once-small bark mulch lot into a successful business that produces more than 150,000 yards annually. He recently built a robust topsoil operation to complement the mulch products.
Stumbling Upon an Unexpected Opportunity
"My father and I purchased this business from the previous owner back in 1999," shares Randy. "It was a small bark mulch operation run by just he and his wife."
Randy admits that he certainly wasn't looking to get into the mulch business, and it was not a career path he had ever even considered.
"We came at this pretty new!" he continues. "I started in a tobacco stripping room; we used to raise a lot of tobacco, but that industry obviously got pretty hard. He [the previous owner] used to come down and hang out there and he was ready to retire and was interested in selling his business so we ended up buying it from him."
Making Smart Growth Decisions
Randy and his father spent their first few years in business just trying to wrap their heads around what was required to keep the operation running. With no prior experience, every challenge was a new one that required overcoming the typical learning curve. But when it came time to make changes, they made smart decisions that have had solid long-term benefits.
"About 10 years ago, we started taking tipping fees for green waste. That was a significant change because it dramatically increased the amount of material we had for mulching while adding revenue," Randy explains. "It allowed us to move beyond just making a bark mulch."
Other smart additions to their product and service line followed.
"We added a topsoil operation, which provided a complementary second product we could sell alongside the mulch. We began a coloring operation so we could sell dyed mulches, which are now in high demand. We've looked to grow our business through sustainable decisions that would justify the investments we would have to make to support them."