Young entrepreneurs: Nut shells, work ethic business’ foundation

November 2014 Posted in Business
Anna and Kyle Plaisted are the owners of KP’s Harvest Time Products now in Mount Angel.

Anna and Kyle Plaisted are the owners of KP’s Harvest Time Products now in Mount Angel.

By Kristine Thomas

Kyle and Anna Plaisted weren’t about to let a bit of bad news derail them from their goal.

In June, they learned they lost the lease on the mill in Aurora where they operated KP’s Harvest Time Products, LLC. The owner sold the property and told the Plaisteds they would have to find another location for their business, which makes products from hazelnut shells.

“We had a month-to-month lease,” Kyle explained. “When the farm sold, we lost our lease. We could have given up and decided to do something else. Instead, we pulled together and found a new place for our business within 24 hours.”

Kyle, 28, and Anna, 23, got into their truck and started driving, looking for a grain mill and warehouse to lease. They started in Newberg, ventured to St. Paul and Aurora before finally discovering exactly what they needed in Mount Angel, the former Wilco plant. One advantage of the Mount Angel location, Kyle said, is it is close to their suppliers in Hubbard and Aurora.

“When we saw the For Lease sign on the building, we called right away and signed a lease on the building the next day,” Kyle said.

On a chilly, windy and rainy Saturday morning, Kyle and Anna were beaming with excitement as they shared their plans for the business and their lives. They have sold their home in Milwaukie, where they began making KP Harvest Time Products and are looking to purchase a home in the Mount Angel/Silverton area. With November and December being their slower months, they will use the time to set up their operation in the old grain elevator building on Main Street in Mount Angel.

Since starting the business in 2012, they have grown from operating in their backyard – about the size of a one car garage to their new warehouse – about the length of a basketball court.

Anna recalls how Kyle talked for years about reopening his father’s business, Harvest Time, that used dry hazelnut shells to make renewable, biodegradable products that sold in five Western states and Canada. It closed its doors in 1999.

In 2012, Kyle and Anna reopened the business at their Milwaukie home under the new name, KP’s Harvest Time Products.

Using a red rototiller, red chipper and a custom screener, Kyle began making and bagging cat litter and two new products, Wally Roots, a soil amendment and landscaping product, and Wally Slug and Snail Blocker. By working at four farmer’s markets, they were able to find a demand for their products within three months of restarting the business. They moved their operation from Milwaukie to Aurora, the original site where Kyle’s grandfather and father processed shells. Their storage capacity went from 1 ton to 300 tons.

“When we started, we could crush about 300 to 400 pounds an hour,” Kyle said. “In our new facility, we will be able to do about 4,000 pounds an hour.”

KP’s Harvest Time Products
Owners: Kyle and Anna Plaisted
Products: Hazelnut shells become cat litter
as well as Wally Roots, a soil amendment
and landscaping product, and
Wally Slug and Snail Blocker.

When they began their business, they were both working full-time at other jobs. Kyle would work from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. at a company in Wilsonville, then go home and work until 10 or 11 p.m.

“We loved what we were doing starting our own business and although it was hard work, it got us to where we are at,” Kyle said.

He now is devoted to working full-time on the business. Anna works full time at Northwest Hazelnut and helps Kyle whenever she can.

Their products are currently sold at more than 70 outlets including Roth’s Fresh Market in Silverton, Al’s Garden Center in Woodburn, Whole Foods and United Grocers.  Beginning next year, they will begin selling to Ace Hardware.

They purchase the hazelnut shells from George Packing Co. and Northwest Hazelnuts.

“We really appreciate Shaun and Larry at George Packing Co., in Brooks for believing in us,” Kyle said. “From when we first approached them to purchase shell to now, they have been there to help us.”

They also appreciate the assistance they have received from Nick Harville, SEDCOR’s retention and expansion manager. Harville helped the Plaisteds in the move to Mount Angel by working with the city and putting the company in touch with a number of resources available to them.

“We didn’t have a clue about the opportunities and connections that are out there through SEDCOR,” Kyle said. “We’ve been delighted to meet discover the organization and are so happy that Nick approached us.”

As he looked around the warehouse, Kyle said he has work to do to get it up and running, especially in time to start filling orders in January and February.

By moving into the warehouse, their bulk dry storage capacity for hazelnut shells went from 300 tons to 10,000 tons and their finished goods warehouse went from 500 to 9,000 square feet. The additional warehouse space has given KP’s Harvest Time Products the ability to increase finished goods production and store finished products in a clean and dry environment.

“We look forward to having our business in Mount Angel because we see it as an opportunity to grow and a place to give back to our community,” Kyle said.

They both have heard people say how young they are to be starting their own company. They take that as a challenge. They both are focused on building a strong, honest and long-lasting business. They plan to lend a hand in the community and have plans to hire employees in 2015.

They met when they were working at Detroit Lake Marina and one thing that attracted each to the other was a shared strong work ethic.

“We both treat people with integrity,” Kyle said. “We believe in serving our customers the way we want them to treat us.”

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