Phyllis Day Chief’s biotech business took off last year after she added a new product. Here’s how she managed the sudden growth.
Phyllis Day Chief should know all about growth. After all, her small biotechnology company, Advanced Water Technologies (AWT), is specialized in growing a roster of natural bacteria that are blended and used for lake restoration and wastewater treatment. Yet, when her company, based in Raymond, Alberta, just south of Lethbridge, added a new bio product to its roster, the speed at which sales took off still surprised her.
“We thought we’d just experiment with a few farmers we knew,” she says. “They loved it, and word quickly spread. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing off the hook. It’s gone crazy.”
Day Chief’s new bacteria product was specially made for farmers who could add it to their soil to make crops healthier in a natural way. Using this new blend of bacteria, farmers benefit from a boost in crop yields over the short term, all the while advancing sustainable farming practices over the long term.
Established in 2001, her company had been trucking along with a steady $300,000 in annual sales for more than a decade. But with the new product line, sales suddenly shot up to $500,000 in the first seven months of 2017. The new product was applied on 14,000 acres of farmers’ fields that summer.
Day Chief had to move the ballooning business out of her home office into a 150-square-metre building on the company’s property. AWT also built another, larger building on its property to accommodate inventory.