I just interviewed Michael Robinson, co-founder of Rust Belt Riders — who I met through a good friend Jonathan in Cleveland.
Michael is in the process of raising capital to formally re-structure their business into a worker-owned cooperative. The good news is — they’ve already been operating with financial transparency, democratic decision-making — so the transition is mostly one of bylaws — and capital.
One of the most exciting parts of their business is the growth of their new product lines — they’re selling “Sprout” and
“Grow” and “Bloom” — each specialized soils that they’re creating and starting to sell — with great success. And you can buy from them as well!
By the end of the hour I just spent with Michael — and the thing I got most excited by was his vision.
Over the last 7 years as he’s been building Rust Belt Riders he’s been going to the Institute of Local Self Reliance’s composting gatherings https://ilsr.org/composting/ and gotten to know peers in
- New Orleands
- Northfield, MN
- Oklahoma City
and many others. Through their relationships — they share all kinds of best practices — but recently as Michael’s been looking to raise capital to grow his co-ops, he’s realized he’d love to support his other peer co-ops — and create a decentralized network.
They could collaborate on marketing their soil. They could share other services and best practices.
As we were talking, I was immediately catching a vision for a marketing co-op comprised of 7 worker-owned co-op composting companies. It made me think of what Paul Bradley has told me about what he’s learned from building ROC USA. And what I’ve heard about from the federation structure that Land O Lakes has and others in agriculture.
Here’s my 19-min interview with Michael if you’re interested in getting to know the business:
Or here’s the Youtube link for the same conversation:
The terms of their capital raise are being finalized by November.
Feel free to let me know if you’d like more information and I can put you directly in touch.