Articles Interviews

5 Questions with Brett Richter of Ecological Laboratories, Inc.

Brett Richter Ecological Laboratories, Inc. at Booth at the Indo Expo, in Denver CO January 2020

Please tell me about yourself, where are you from? Where are you living now? What was your path to the plant? Who was your inspiration for what you do today?

My name is Brett Richter and I am 39 years old, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I am the Vice President of Ecological Laboratories, Inc. a family owned and operated Biotechnology company. I am a 2nd Generation Family Member. I live in Long Island, NY with my wife and two kids. Until the pandemic and quarantine I would spend time going back and forth from our Corporate Office in NY to our Laboratories, Production, Warehouse, Training, Shipping Facility in Cape Coral, FL. Our microbial technology that is proprietary to ELI (Ecological Laboratories, Inc.) can be used in many different applications for environmental issues. Mostly focused on the agricultural, wastewater, Farm Waste Management, Ecosystem Restoration, Aquaculture, Biogas markets on the Industrial Side. As well as major focus on the consumer hobby markets that include Pond/Water Garden, Aquarium, Septic, Birding, Pet and Lawn & Garden. With having large success in the commercial agriculture market for many years, and having our microbial products used on hundreds of thousands of Acres and Hectares globally and we always look to expand to new markets. Roughly 10 years ago, my amazing and dedicated Science and Sales team identified the Cannabis/Hemp Cultivation market as one that would benefit from our technology. Our national sales manager and product expert Scott Berke along with Bill Swearingen our Sales territory manager in Northern California and Southern Oregon including myself was the group that felt the cannabis community needed our technology. It shouldn’t be just for commercial agriculture, Cannabis/Hemp needed this! We did know that microbes/bacteria were used in the Cannabis/Hemp market, if it was growers brewing their own teas and starter microbes. Or other types of microbes being sold to the market, however none of them with the consortium that we produce with a long shelf life. We understood at the beginning that the success the commercial ag farmers experience using our product resulting in a healthier, stronger, faster growing crop would translate to the Cannabis/Hemp Cultivators. We also understood that for those growing for medicinal purposes can feel confident using our technology that it is 100% safe for the plant, non-chemical, nontoxic and safe for the end user. We surveyed the marketplace, put our R&D team to the task to develop our strains of microbes to put out the Best Microbial products to the Cannabis/Hemp grower. After a two year process, we launched the Microbe Life Hydroponics brand of products. Although Hydroponics is in the brand name, every product is safe and great to use in Soil/Aquaponic/Aeroponic grows. 8 years later we are very proud to have our Microbe Life technology being used by Cannabis/Hemp Cultivators from small , mid, and large scale all over the globe. Our path to this plant was very exciting, and to know we are helping caregivers/cultivators/home growers is extremely gratifying for our entire team. I would have to say my inspiration for what I do today first starts with my father and uncle, co-owners and founders of Ecological Laboratories, Inc. I have grown up in our lab from a very small boy when it was still in NY. I was able to understand microbes by this time spent in our lab, as well as other areas of the business from Shipping/Production/Marketing/Sales, etc. My work ethic was heavily influenced in me by my father and uncle who still have their hands involved in all aspects of the business. They are my heroes. Having them as mentors and having a front row seat of running and operating a biotech business has allowed me to be successful in my professional career and personal life.

Photo of Cape Coral Florida employees

What are your six-and twelve month goals? What obstacles do you face? How do you anticipate removing those obstacles?
With so many different markets we serve, we set different goals for each of them. However specific to the Cannabis/Hemp market we are always looking to grow, improve, and get our products in the hands of everyone! Within the next 6 months we are looking to finalize our formulations and packaging for several new products to be launched under the Microbe Life Hydroponics brand. We have not had any new items since our initial launch 8 years ago. When launching a new product we want to make sure that the grower will truly benefit from what is in the bottle. We want to make sure we offer the best technology out there. A longer term goal for us is to have our products fully registered in Canada. All of our products are registered in each state in the US. That allows us to make the claims we do on our labels, and allow the grower to feel confident in putting our products to use. There are so many products on the market that the contents are unknown in the bottle. We want the grower to fully understand what is in our formulations and how they work and interact with the plant. We have been working on Canadian registrations for a while now. It is a lengthy process, and hope to have this available to all the growers in Canada in the long term. Of course in business there are always obstacles, and they come in many ways. They can be other microbial products out there that may claim to do what we can do, but don’t. Growers have purchased and used biologicals for a very long time, and many didn’t see results. So at the beginning it was always proving to each grower that our products do what we say they do! That never goes away! We can have a lot of success with a farmer, but the next farmer rightfully so needs to see the proof themselves. Other obstacles always include product registration, being that we know our products are 100% safe for the environment, people, pets, aquatics, however different countries have their own specific microbial strains that are approved and safe for import. Our consortium is so unique that some states, or countries never worked with anything like it. So it is a delicate arena to have to navigate in order to educate these governmental departments. Our Lab team made up of PHD’s, Biologists, Microbiologists, Chemists steer that ship for us and make these bacterial product registrations happen for us to sell and for the grower to use.

In front of Ecological Laboratories in Cape Coral, FL. (Far Left Brett Richter/2nd Gen of Family, Barry Richter/Founder/Owner, Mike Gorka (Northwest Territory Manager),Michael Richter/Founder/Owner, Matthew Richter/2nd Gen of family)

Tell me about your company? What do you do that’s better than your competition?
I mentioned some brief company history above, but there is always more we can talk about! 😊 We have roughly 80 employees between our NY Corporate Office and our Florida Laboratories. We have offices in the Middle East and Asia, and have sales representatives covering all of our markets on the road in the US. Being a family owned business there are four, 2nd Generation and one 3rd Generation family members all working for Ecological. We have so many employees that have been with us for 10, 20, 30 and even 40 years! I consider myself so lucky to be able to work with my family each day. We produce all of our Microbes right here in the US. Our core technology and consortium of microbes cannot be reverse engineered or duplicated. It has been tried over many times by different companies with zero success. The old saying “often imitated, never duplicated” works well for our microbial formulations. Of course there is competition out there, and there are many other wonderful efficacious microbial products out there. However they work very well with our technology and focus on other areas of the plant health that complements ours. Our flagship product is called Photosynthesis Plus, and it is a complete eco system in a bottle. It works in several areas of Cannabis plants as well as all plants. This product made up of our propriety consortium improves a plants ability to use available light for photosynthesis, increasing carbon cycling. The plant is able to convert more Carbon (CO2) to carbohydrates. There are bacteria in the blend that fix nitrogen from the air at the foliar level, in addition to at the root, and help the plant uptake other nutrients better. Other inputs a grower uses for their crops will be metabolized by the plant more efficiently, reducing waste and cost. Nutrient companies enjoy when their products are used in conjunction with Microbe Life Hydroponics/Photosynthesis Plus!

Photo by pistil_tops

What is your favorite food memory from childhood? Do you cook? Who taught you? Favorite meal now?
I do not have the most sophisticated pallet when it comes to food. I have always been basic meat and potatoes type of person. One of my favorite food memories wasn’t exactly a good one! I am not the biggest fan of seafood, but my mother always wanted me to eat fish, you know its brain food! That’s what she would always tell me when she prepared it, but I just didn’t like it. So one night growing up she gave me a chicken dish, and I ate the entire thing, and asked for more……low and behold it wasn’t chicken it was fish. She fooled me! The power of the mind, right!? Yet I wouldn’t be fooled again, and we still laugh at that story today. I am not a big cook or fan of cooking, my wife and sister are amazing cooks, and I thank them for feeding me! Funny enough, I make a solid French toast, well at least my two kids think so. If I could have my favorite meal, it’s pretty basic, carbs all the way….give me some spaghetti and meatballs.

Photo Provided by Brett Richter

What is your passion?
As I get older my passions have changed, specifically when I became a father. So my passion is my family and raising my kids with my wife. After that, Ecological Laboratories isn’t just a job for me, it is my also my passion! It is in my genetic makeup to want to make our company continue to grow and help our environment whether its cleaning up polluted water ways and wastewater to helping all plants grow to the best of their natural ability. I have put so much into developing our Cannabis/Hemp cultivation sector of our business! This community of growers have encouraged me to want to make sure our products are being used for cannabis cultivation in order to produce the best Cannabis & Hemp out there especially for caregivers taking care of patients. However when I do decompress from the responsibilities of Ecological, I enjoy Baseball, Hockey, and sneakers! Yes, sneakers! A fresh pair of cool sneakers always gets my attention!

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