Grant County Mulch recycles organic waste into a thriving business.
In the early 1980s, Janie Berg’s husband, Larry, worked as a coal truck driver. Once that work died down, he started hauling raw byproducts from West Virginia sawmills to a company in Fairfax, Virginia. The company then asked him to take one of their grinders to West Virginia and grind the material prior to transportation. Larry did exactly that and, by 1986, he founded Grant County Mulch.
At first, the Bergs had just one tractor trailer. They would pick up the bark left over from sawmills or have it delivered to their Petersburg plant and run it through a grinder to create the desired textured mulch. “I had to learn to run a loader, and Larry had to learn to run a grinder,” Janie says. She would also inspect all of the mulch piles for quality. “I wouldn’t ship out a load I didn’t like.”
In the decades since its foundation, the company’s fleet of trucks has grown to more than 25. The single plant has spread into eight sites across West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia to ensure better access to customers, who now include Lowe’s, Scotts, and independent landscapers.
Janie used to be excited if they made four loads of mulch a day. Now, the company sometimes does more than 380 loads. Peak season runs from February until July, since that’s when people spruce up around their homes. By early autumn, focus shifts to manufacturing the mulch and soils for next year.
The company currently has 230 employees, three of whom are Larry and Janie’s daughters. “A lot of our employees have been with us for 30 years,” Janie says. The Bergs live on acreage adjoining the Petersburg plant, Janie’s office often feels like her living room, and Larry continues to act as the president of the GCM Corporation.
What are the Bergs’ plans for the future? “I want to say retiring, but I don’t think that’s in my vocabulary,” Janie says.
written by Jess Walker
photographed by Nikki Bowman