For almost a decade, Josh Kimble has been looking for a way to solve a problem most in the agriculture industry considered unsolvable—how to transport produce quickly, inexpensively, and safely. And it looks like he’s come up with a game-changer.
It’s a synthetic material Kimble and his team of farmers, chemists, and engineers have dubbed AgriGiene, the “jewel in the crown” of his company, ALLPRO Industry Solutions (a name he chose to reflect the fact that the company is made up of all professionals).
Speaking as proudly as a father speaking about his child, Kimble explained that AgriGiene is a bacteria-free, sturdy synthetic material that ALLPRO uses to replace the metal, wood, and plastic that has been traditionally used to manufacture agricultural products such as pallets, cold storage buildings, bins, tanks, processing buildings, trays, trailers, tubs, implements, conveyors, and belting.
“We’re excited that we were able to come up with a solution that solves one of the most common problems in the agriculture industry,” Kimble said, smiling as he thinks back on discussions he had with Kern County growers about what they felt were some of the biggest challenges in Ag. “A lot of growers were complaining—some of them very loudly—about the cost of transporting their produce, and I said, ‘If I can come up with some way to move produce cheaper, would that be something farmers would be interested in?’” You can probably guess what the response was.
Considering their emphatic “YES!” to be a green light, Kimble began working on a product that is now positioned to revolutionize not only agriculture, but other industries, like logistics. Coupling his background in construction, engineering, and furniture building with his love of biology (“If I had the money, I’d have gone to college and studied marine biology and might be out on an island experimenting with kelp or something right now,” he laughed), Kimble went to work. He knew what practically everyone in the industry knew—he’d have to find an alternative to the wood, metal, and plastics that have made up most of the items used in transport since people started moving things from one part of the country to the other. And he’d have to figure out a way to use this alternative material in everything from the pallets and bins to the trucks themselves.
“A lot of people in the industry knew for years that they’d have to come up with a safer, more cost-efficient way to move food products, but they just put it on the back burner because the solution seemed too difficult.”
It wasn’t an easy process, and there were a lot of bumps in the road, but Kimble and his fellow professionals stayed the course they had plotted. Their perseverance paid off to become the agents of change.
“It was pretty awesome when we realized what we had,” Kimble said, grinning at the memory of the jaw-dropping moment. “I knew we had done it as soon as I pulled the sample piece of material out. In fact, a made a one hundred dollar bet that when we got the lab results back from our ‘real-world’ testing, AgriGiene’s bacterial organism content would be below the content of wood.”
Kimble still has that $100. “The lab results that came back were phenomenal! I couldn’t believe it! We ran tests using AgriGiene and wood products in real world situations farmers would use the products for in the field, and we found a forty-six percent reduction of bacterial organisms on the products made with AgriGiene. Not only that, when AgriGiene products were cleaned with cold water, the reduction of surface contamination went down by eighty-six percent. Crazy.”
But AgriGiene isn’t just crazy good when it comes to the reduction of surface contamination, ALLPRO engineers have used AgriGiene to design safer trucks and harvest trailers. “The trucks we use in ALLPRO Transport have also been designed to be aerodynamic, which decreases the chances of tipping over in harsh weather conditions,” Kimble said. “Our trucks are also much lighter, so wear and tear on the roads from ALLPRO trucks is greatly reduced. Fuel costs are also much lower, so transportation costs for field harvesting and shipping to market can be reduced by as much as thirty percent.”
Another thing that sets ALLPRO’s products (those manufactured with Agrigiene materials) apart is the fact that they can be used forever, explained Kimble
“Since AgriGiene contains zero VOC’s [volatile organic compounds], is a non-plastic composite, and a non-biological structure, AgriGiene doesn’t ever deteriorate. You’ll never find AgriGiene in a landfill. This is very important to us because, unlike most businesses that front eco-friendly as a marketing maneuver, ALLPRO is an actual ecologically conscious and sustainable business. Our manufacturing materials do not involve the use of non-sustainable goods. In addition, our products are meant to be used repeatedly for a lifetime. We’re always actively looking for ways to reduce waste and our environmental footprint.”
One might think that with a listing of benefits this long, making the change from traditional products to those using AgriGiene would be a no-brainer. Not necessarily, according to Kimble.
Getting tangled up in bureaucratic red tape is a risk for most businesses these days, but Kimble has found a way to work through the confusion. “It took a couple of years of working with the federal government, but we helped create the first federally recognized certification for bacteria-free products. The FTC was created to standardize a contact surface for food transportation. AgriGiene is compliant with FDA, USDA, NSF, and GFSI standards, and it’s the only material certified for chemical-free cleaning.”
Another risk factor ALLPRO has to face is those who think, “If it was good enough for my great-great grandfather, it’s good enough for me!”
“Changing people’s mindset is no easy task,” Kimble said thoughtfully. “Getting people to make a change in the way they’ve been doing business for the past sixty years is a challenge.”
Though these are some pretty formidable risks Kimble expects ALLPRO to face in the coming years, so far the AgriGiene model for materials has been well received.
“It’s really pretty amazing, but so far nobody has said ‘no’ to us,” he added with a note of surprise in his voice. “Even some of the big companies that have been doing things a certain way for years have decided to associate with ALLPRO.”
This brings us to another ALLPRO innovation—a business model built on the association with companies that want a long-term investment in sustainability rather than a model dependent on the sale of products.
“Our capital comes from opportunities rather than from money made through the sale of manufactured products,” Kimble explained. “Our goal is to build an infrastructure that moves goods safely around the USA, so we manufacture and maintain our products for the members of our association. Associates are businesses we’ve formed a ‘partnership without being partners’ with. They can separate from ALLPRO at any time.”
It’s similar to a co-op, Kimble said, adding that ALLPRO’s “co-op” members have the advantage of not having to invest in research and development (“We do all the R & D”); can become their own developer, manufacturer, and shipper; have lower costs and lower risks of doing business; and have access to a network of professionals.
“‘Helping business grow’ is our motto because we want to allow our company-associates to reap the benefits of using our technology at a low cost instead of trying to maximize our bottom line,” Kimble said. “We want to work together to grow their businesses as we grow ours, and we want to grow in a way that doesn’t compromise our ethics and high standards. We want to take care of our employees by treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve. I’m hoping we’re know as a company that has the standards of the 1950s when employees stayed with the same company for many, many years because the company took care of them.”
Some people may think going back to the 1950s is crazy, but crazy is not a problem for Kimble. “I love crazy. Crazy is how I got here. Crazy isn’t really all that crazy. You just come up with an efficient way to solve a problem, get the support you need from professionals, and keep your standards high.”