Smart Company: Nature Safe
One company has found a lasting formula for success. Nature Safe, an organic fertilizer provider, combines top technology and expert research with support from a unique parent company set up to provide education and support to the natural fertilizer brand. This combination creates a successful brand that sustains soil and benefits the environment.
“Our philosophy is anywhere there is an opportunity to promote high-quality organic nutrition, we want to figure out how we can service that market,” said Rick Geise, the company’s brand manager.
Nature Safe makes products that nourish soil for sports fields, organic farms, private labels, gardens and landscapes. The fertilizers are made of all natural ingredients and are designed to create a nutritious food system for soil and turf.
Nature Safe provides excellent products that benefit the planet, and it is so successful because it is part of a larger organization, Griffin Industries. This company is a really unique organization that focuses on research, education and nutrition in several different formats.
Started in 1943 as a fertilizer business, Griffin has operated under one fundamental philosophy: What is good for the environment is good for business. Griffin has great experience in sustaining its business and the planet. One part of the organization takes bakery bi-products — including cereals, breads, Girl Scout Cookies, pasta and more — and turns them into a high-energy corn material that will be used in chicken feed. The diversity of the business promotes the sharing of information and the preservation of the planet.
“It’s a really unusual business. We’re not just taking hundreds of tons of chicken feathers and recycling it,” Geise said. “We will trim and cure beef hides, which get turned into soccer balls and furniture. We deal in the production of biodiesel.”
To be successful in all of those fields, Griffin Industries is committed to fully researching and testing its products. Griffin’s management of Nature Safe is no different.
“Every attribute that we tout on Nature Safe has been validated with independent research. We don’t want it to be a blind pitch,” Geise said. “ We always look for ways that our product can better perform and how we can build in additional value for our customers.”
To conduct the research, Griffin reaches out to various universities who work in the specific fields. These studies help Griffin know that the Nature Safe products are beneficial for the environment and great products to sell.
Past research has shown Nature Safe products condition the soil to be healthier, much like healthy eating and exercise prepare humans to avoid disease. Geise said he has found environmental stewardship should be built with good products — both chemical and organic. Turf is going to be able to adapt to stress conditions, including heat, humidity, heavy traffic, if it is receiving the right nutrients.
“We’ve found the longer you use Nature Safe, the better it works,” Geise said. “It’s like when you get a cold, it doesn’t knock you out for a week. It’s the same principle. The pathogens in soil cause disease but they tend to be fairly poor competitors. When the soil has a highly concentrated food source, it can reduce the pathogens. Then, you can reduce your spray, ultimately reducing environmental impacts and costs.”
Partnering for the Planet
To solidify the company’s commitment to the environment, Griffin Industries partnered with Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program. Audubon International’s program certifies properties that promote wildlife habitat, conserve water, are energy efficient and recycle.
Geise said joining this program helped Griffin accomplish its goal of promoting environmental principles to the public. In the last 12 years, more than 20 Griffin locations have been certified as Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary properties, and Griffin’s corporate office has a 4,5000 square foot addition that is LEED Certified. The Griffin-Audubon partnership allowed Griffin to not only produce environmentally-friendly products, but it also helped Griffin’s organizational backbone to focus on the planet.
Connecting with clients
Gise said his company hopes to educate clients about the benefits of Nature Safe in order to sell the products. Nature safe is typically sold through independent distributors to lawn care providers, and the distributors practice what Geise called a “consultative sell.”
“The people who sell Nature Safe have subject matter expertise on agronomy,” he said. “Our big focus is communicating to distributors so they can share that expertise with the customer.”
Nature Safe produces a monthly newsletter with information ranging from education on the products to exploring ideas of sales. This education is essential to helping customers grow their businesses and helping them understand the value of Nature Safe.
“We just don’t believe they buy the material from a website. It’s got to be educational.”
Griffin and Nature Safe’s commitment to education and partnership continues through all aspects of the business. Nature Safe has teamed up with JP Horizons and A Better Way Community to connect with Green Industry leaders and educate on how to better care for the environment.
“The Come Alive Outside Movement and the Face to Face events allow us to reach and connect with forward-thinking landscape professionals on how can they adapt to a changing market,” Geise said. “People are concerned about environmental stewardship and sustainability. They are concerned about what their pets and kids are exposed to on their property, and we want to help.”