Chaz Berman, CEO
The inception of Grower’s Secret has an exciting story. In 1995, while working on a mushroom farm in Maui, two longtime friends, lab partners and plant pathologists, Bryan Hiromoto and Wesley Chun, stumbled upon one of the best examples of symbiosis in nature between a fungus and a tree. While the tree provided the fungus, commonly referred to as hen of the woods, with nutrients for its survival, the fungus repaid the tree with nematicidal compounds, a chemical that can significantly protect plants. In 1998, they co-founded Advanced Biological Research, LLC and developed the process to produce large quantities of this compound in a liquid fermentation culture, the first of its kind to be recognized by OMRI, a national organic certifier. By 2003, large bioreactor incubation was established, and the growth enhancer was sold commercially.
It was time to take the extensive R&D to market. This now introduces, Chaz Berman, current CEO of Grower’s Secret. Chaz joined the company and renamed it Grower’s Secret and the proprietary product as Grower’s Secret Professional (GSP). Having experience of being involved in eight successful startup companies, Berman claims that GSI has been his biggest career challenge due to the nature of the agricultural distribution channels. Berman has been able to tackle this challenge effectively, while maintaining the founder’s ideology of “Innovative Organic Solutions.” This steady progress is very much evident as the company has achieved about 50 percent CAGR over the last five years.
GSP is our anchor product,
which is not a fertilizer, but
a plant growth stimulator,
helps the plant open up its
roots at the cellular level
and absorb more nutrients
“GSP is our anchor product,” says Berman. GSP, which is not a fertilizer, but a plant growth stimulator, helps the plant open its roots at the cellular level and absorb more nutrients and water. This is thought to be done by helping the plant complete an already existing gene expression. “GSP is a cheerleader that helps the plant kickstart this process,” quips Berman. This unique material can be added to all organic or conventional fertilizers and can increase all measurable quantities in a plant including stalk size, the weight of the fruit, and so on. “Generally, growers witness a 30 percent increase in the yields.”
Research conducted by Holden Research & Consulting, a third-party researcher, observed that GSP approximately increased the yield and profit by 52.6 percent in a field study of summer tomatoes in Ventura, CA. The full study can be found on their website.
GSI also produces an organic, Non- GMO, soybean-based product called Grower’s Secret Nitrogen (GSN). This 99.9 percent water-soluble product is manufactured through the process of hydrolysis. It is eco-friendly and has no ammoniacal nitrogen or nitrates. Along with GSN, Grower’s Secret uses this hydrolysis method on kelp from the North Atlantic to produce Organic Soluble Seaweed Powder which provides nutritional support, promotes balanced growth, and improves crop quality.
“Right from the founding of the company, we have only used sustainable materials, even our packaging is sustainable,” claims Berman. Grower’s Secret is good for not only the environment, but also good for farmers profitability.
Berman envisions three concurrent phases in the future expansion of the company. As CEO, he aims to strengthen the sales and distribution system to achieve an increase in revenue from 5 million to 20 million dollars in three years. Berman is also working to form strategic partnerships with 10-15 companies over the next 18 months where GSI can invest resources using one of their greatest strengths, distribution. Finally, Berman aims to work with process engineers to build their own manufacturing facility in the US which will significantly increase profit margins.