Those interested in sustainable gardening and farming know there's a growing concern about the health of our soil. Over the years, our soil has been depleted and damaged from tilling, putting our food supply and the environment at risk.
Scott Laskowski noticed this problem and was inspired to take action. His journey began with a unique twist—repurposing animal mortality into a valuable resource for soil health. But it didn't stop there. His company, OrganiLock, expanded its mission to provide innovative solutions for gardeners and farmers alike.
In this Q&A, Scott shares his insights into soil health challenges and his vision for a more sustainable and fertile future.
What inspired you to co-found a company?
SL: The OrganiLock journey traces its roots to my father, a true serial entrepreneur. My initiation into the world of business started during my grade school years when I actively participated in multiple startup ventures. However, one family company stood out, and it would shape my life for three decades – Wood-Mizer Products, Inc., an international company headquartered in Indianapolis.
In 2008, after the successful closure of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) at Wood-Mizer, my parents, my wife Brenda, and I felt the calling to embark on a new adventure. We envisioned a company that would pick up where Wood-Mizer left off, specializing as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in biomass processing equipment. Despite facing a non-compete agreement with Wood-Mizer, we dedicated the first two years to designing and building the Bio-Liquidator, a groundbreaking product tailored for the animal mortality industry. A handshake partnership with Bio Response Solutions allowed us to continue producing the Bio-Liquidator, which harnessed alkaline hydrolysis technology to transform animal mortality into an eco-friendly effluent, suitable for use as a liquid fertilizer. Little did we know that this invention would become a pivotal part of our soil health solution.
Our introduction to the world of soil health was far from planned. Initially, our company was focused on crafting innovative solutions for environmental challenges, with soil health as an afterthought. Our primary mission was to find ways to add value to waste biomass streams.
How did you become interested in soil?
SL: Our trajectory took a profound shift when we began collaborating with Murray State University on diverse projects. Through their economic development initiatives, we were introduced to the daunting challenge of transforming the Asian Carp problem into a valuable resource. Simultaneously, we stumbled upon an unexpected revelation: Our Bio-Burners were capable of consistently producing high-quality biochar. By employing our proprietary equipment to process a blend of biomass, Asian Carp (animal mortality), and biochar in precise proportions, we unintentionally uncovered a groundbreaking soil super-food. To our astonishment, rigorous comparisons with the best competitors available at major retailers consistently favored our product. This was the moment when our fascination with soil health was ignited.
The journey ahead is complex, and it’s important to remember that repairing the damage inflicted upon our soil over more than a century won’t happen overnight.
Tell us about your team: Who’s on it, and how did you meet?
SL: The OrganiLock journey wouldn’t have been possible without our dedicated and diverse team. Brenda (my wife) is a versatile team member. She focuses primarily on business management and bookkeeping. Tim Baughman is a long-time friend, business partner, and co-worker with over three decades of product development experience. Peter Bolduc has been with us for a couple of years. Peter currently serves as the interim President, spearheading our transition from research and development (R&D) to the production of OrganiLock Soil and Plant Food products. Jenny Gibson is our financial and business counsel. Initially introduced to our products locally, she has become an invaluable team member. Ben Laskowski is our eldest son, who is responsible for business modeling, web design, graphics design, marketing materials, social media and web-based marketing, printing, and more. L.Be Sholar is our eldest daughter who spearheads product branding, market targeting, content creation, and training materials. LB is also our product ambassador and is co-launching her own company, The Wildstead Company, using OrganiLock products to assist high-profile customers such as Whoopi Goldberg and Laila Ali with their gardening projects. Brian Grayson, a business consultant service, is our most recent addition. Brian brings focus, business accountability, and expertise in social media and web-based marketing.
Where do you see gardening and farming headed in the future?
SL: We stand at a pivotal juncture in the realms of gardening and farming. Interest in gardening is soaring across all age groups, with a significant influx of newcomers seeking guidance to ensure their success. Although social media offers a plethora of “expert advice”, these solutions can often prove to be outdated, cumbersome, expensive, and time-consuming. Moreover, there is a growing inclination towards natural and organic practices. OrganiLock Soil and Plant Food products streamline gardening by prioritizing soil health while eliminating less effective traditional methods.
The challenges faced in farming differ significantly. Globally, we are awakening to the alarming state of our tillable soil, prompting warnings from entities such as the United Nations that fewer than 60 harvests remain. Over the last century, the extensive use of synthetic nitrates has left our soil in dire need of rejuvenation. Current methods for regeneration, such as crop rotation and compost application, fall short of adequately feeding our growing global population. At OrganiLock, we advocate for a simple yet potent solution: feed the soil. However, achieving this on a global scale necessitates a vast source of organic nutrients. We assert that animal mortality represents the last and only massive resource capable of regenerating soil on a worldwide scale. Harvesting and managing this valuable resource is the greatest opportunity for mankind to rapidly regenerate the soil worldwide.
The transition of farmers to this innovative technology presents formidable challenges. While our Soil Food products thrive in the consumer market, aligning with competitive prices, farmers face a different and demanding reality. Commodity products like beans and corn offer little room for absorbing the additional input costs required for soil regeneration. The journey ahead is complex, and it’s important to remember that repairing the damage inflicted upon our soil over more than a century won’t happen overnight. Additional input costs are an inevitable part of the solution, and it’s unreasonable for farmers to bear this burden at their current price points.
What does success look like to OrganiLock in the short term and long term?
SL: In both the short and long term, success for OrganiLock takes on distinct forms. In the short term, our immediate goal is to solidify the foundation of OrganiLock. This encompasses building a resilient faith-based culture, establishing a robust product branding identity, strengthening our online presence across websites and social media platforms, expanding our distribution network, and advancing the concept of distributed manufacturing. Additionally, we aspire to develop a global social impact tool that leverages our products to empower underserved communities, creating jobs and improving livelihoods by rejuvenating soil health. In the long term, our enduring vision is to establish a profitable, global network of distributed manufacturing for soil food. Replenishing our soil and securing a fertile future for our planet will necessitate collaborative efforts, and OrganiLock is poised to be a vital contributor to this transformative cause. As we look towards the future, we envision a world where soil health thrives, agriculture flourishes sustainably, and communities benefit from the bounty of a rejuvenated Earth.