Tom Wood grew up on a potato, cereal grain, and alfalfa farm in Eastern Idaho, with both irrigated and dryland acres.
Tom has built several ag related small businesses over the years, including a custom haying operation, and with his brother Matt, a custom application business, and a farm retail business focusing on biological and alternative inputs, while still managing his own farm.
Tom is always looking for “alternative” methods, systems, and products to help lower inputs and increase profitability on his own operation. After experimenting with the O2YS and Organisan line of chitosan products on his own farm, the products were added to the retail business portfolio, and one thing led to another, and Tom is now the Western Territory Manager for O2YS Corp, and Organisan Corp.
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for High Velocity Radio.
Stone Payton: [00:00:14] Welcome to the High Velocity Radio show, where we celebrate top performers producing better results in less time. Stone Payton here with you this afternoon and you guys are in for a real treat. Please join me in welcoming to the broadcast with Organisan, Mr.Tom Wood. How are you, man?
Tom Wood: [00:00:35] I’m doing very well today. Thank you. How about yourself? Are you holding up?
Stone Payton: [00:00:38] Oh, doing well man, and so delighted to have you on the program. I got a thousand questions, Tom, and I know we’re not going to get to them all, but I’m thinking maybe a great place to start would be is if you could articulate for me and our listeners mission. Purpose, you know, what are you and your team really out there trying to do for folks?
Tom Wood: [00:00:59] We, we, we deal in the general ag sector. For the most part. We find a rapidly growing presence in the Gulf turf industry as well as homeowners. Our biggest mission, I guess, at this point is where we can be very influential, very beneficial to help farmers and general consumers to get off some of the harsh pesticides that have traditionally been used in, uh, in conventional production practices.
Stone Payton: [00:01:26] Well, it sounds like a noble pursuit to me, but I got to. I got to get to backstory, man. How in the world does one find themselves in this line of work?
Speaker4: [00:01:38] Yeah.
Tom Wood: [00:01:39] So there’s a whole growing movement in agriculture. Um, I’m currently today here at stepped away from the big soil health event going on right now here in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Uh, there’s a whole movement here that they’re calling regenerative. If you saw the Kiss the Ground movie or the new Common Ground movie that’s just come out, uh, being released on Netflix, that’s a really good place for your listeners to to go to go watch those movies. We’ll kind of give, uh, an understanding and a basis of the crowd that we generally deal with, that the type of farmers that we generally deal with. Um, this is where we’re certainly not alone in this sphere. It’s growing very rapidly. Um, for myself personally, I grew up on a farm in, uh, eastern Idaho. I am the fourth generation now to operate the farm as part of what we still farm today, was homesteaded by my great grandfather in 1906. Um, I was very well indoctrinated, if you will, or very well involved with, uh, traditional synthetic chemistry farming practices. Um, my dad was a crop duster. I have a brother who still is a crop duster. That brother and myself, we own a custom application business for almost two decades that we specialized in chemical application techniques and products for the potato industry, basically in Idaho. So I was, uh, we would mark out rows in the springtime. We would put down a lot of the fungicides, some of the pop up fertilizers. We would throw up the hills that they would plant the potatoes in. And then in the fall we would come back in with usually pretty much the same customer base, and we would do the fumigation applications for all weed weed suppression and primarily nematode control.
Tom Wood: [00:03:32] And as this went on, we had a strange weather event in Idaho in 2014 that it rained. And for anybody who’s not familiar with Idaho, um, we are a very high desert. It doesn’t rain usually in July and August in Idaho, but we realized that there were some disease issues that came along in our wheat and our malting barley. There is a disease, the nickname for it is Vomitoxin. And my brother and I realized on our fumigation run that fall that most of the customers that we fumigated for had a far worse infection rate, um, than the guys who didn’t have to fumigate. So at that point, I kind of had my suspicions. But at that point, I realized that so much of what we’re contending with, with food production is we’re creating our own problems. This was biologically based. We’re obviously killing too much of something in the soil. That kind of is where I got kicked in the rabbit hole. And, uh, I was researching this infection that winter, and I came across this, this natural compound called chitosan. And in this first research paper, it talked about how effective this natural compound is against the Fusarium graminearum or Fusarium culmorum that, uh, causes vomitoxin infection one thing to another. It kind of became obsessed with this. It sounded too good to be true. I started calling around. I couldn’t find anybody who was familiar with this, and it took me almost two years, year and a half a little better before before the Organic Sand Corporation and myself found each other.
Tom Wood: [00:05:11] Uh, we brought this to Idaho, started playing with it on our own farm, trying to figure out timings, you know, application rates, best uses for the product. And the company was experiencing such a rapid, rapid growth at that point. And in 2018, uh, Mark Nichols, the VP of the company, called, asked if I would like to come to work for them. And, uh, kind of blew me away. I didn’t know if I was even good employee material because I had been self-employed for so long, but I was kind of looking for something else at that point. Anyway, I was losing interest in the in the application business. We followed as best as we could all of the required, you know, PPE, um, personal protective equipment recommendations and requirements that are listed on the labels of all the products that we handled. But when that’s all you do every day, all day, sometimes usually seven days a week for we would go for six weeks solid in the spring and we would go for two, two and a half months solid in the fall. You can’t help but pick up the exposure off of that. I don’t care how religiously you follow this. And I started to notice some some. Dear, your deterioration in my health, particularly in those seasons and I the whole thing just kind of crescendoed for me that I realized that what what I’m doing here isn’t actually helping farmers and that there was a better way. So one cascading event to another, and here we are now. So.
Stone Payton: [00:06:46] Well, two things have become crystal clear for me during the course of this conversation already. Number one, I don’t have the vocabulary or the work ethic to be in your business, so I couldn’t.
Speaker4: [00:06:59] But it’s.
Tom Wood: [00:07:00] Easy. I make up most of these words because who really is going to go double check me?
Stone Payton: [00:07:04] Exactly. Uh, and I mean, clearly you are born for this work. That’s, uh. Wow. So now that you’ve been added a while, what, uh, what are you enjoying the most, man? What’s the the most rewarding about it for you?
Tom Wood: [00:07:19] The most rewarding for me is when, uh, how do I put this politically correctly? Due to my years of dealing in the chemical industry, there was an I learned there’s an attitude. There’s a, uh. There’s a good old boy. Kind of. There’s the. It’s a little bit vindictive. There’s there’s just a there’s an attitude in the chemical industry. And I have been thrown under the bus enough times as being the applicator. Any time something went wrong or didn’t live up to expectations by the applicator was always the first person that everybody, everybody pointed to. I had developed a little animosity, if you will, I guess, towards the entire chemical industry as a whole. And it’s so fun for me now when I can step onto a farm that has been, you know, completely a conventional synthetic mindset for, you know, decades now. Um, and in just in the first year, we can make a change on that farm. I, we can step in on day one and we can greatly reduce, if not completely eliminate, any fungicide applications that you might need just by using some of the organic products. And from there, nobody ever explains to us that there’s a side effect to every decision that we make. You know, if you turn on a TV, every third commercial it’s on these days is for a pharmaceutical product. And the last 10s of the commercial is they have to list all of the potential side effects.
Speaker4: [00:08:55] Right?
Tom Wood: [00:08:56] Same thing happens in agriculture, except nobody explains to the farmers what happens with these side effects. So we can step in on year one. We can reduce your inputs many times. We can will increase your yield right off the bat, and the side effects from our products are beneficial. We we can help control your pathogenic fungal pressures, at the same time that we will increase your beneficial microbial populations. And we can start to turn this around to where your soil, rather than being in a degenerative program, is now in a regenerative program that it will start to get better. Now, year after year after year. We sometimes refer to ourselves as being a bridge product or a bridge company because we can help farmers make this jump from their traditional synthetic forms of agriculture into this. I call it new, but it’s not necessarily new, but this regenerative way of farming, just by being able to replace so many of the synthetics that you you’ve been using. And it brings me a lot of joy when I understand that I have angered their local sales person because we we eliminated their need for a lot of the synthetics.
Stone Payton: [00:10:12] Well, I get the sense that once you get the opportunity to have a substantive conversation with a farmer, relying on these more traditional methods, that that what you have to say to them would be very persuasive, and that over the course of the conversation, they would get educated and and intrigued and very likely act and sort of move, you know, toward your end of the continuum. But what is the whole sales and marketing thing like for you, you guys? How do you how do you get to have the conversation in the first place? Or are you just out traveling to farms or or I know you like you’re at a trade show right now, right?
Tom Wood: [00:10:52] Yep. So a lot of it is from this, I, I joke around with people sometimes. They ask me what I do here, and I tell them that I’m the CEO. I am the chief educational officer. Um, um, so a lot of what we do is, is literally on the road, farm to farm, face to face. Um, our vice president, Mark Nichols, is he is an absolute road warrior. Um, the man just he just lives on the road. He just he loves what he does. He is so passionate about this. The company has progressed, and the, uh, the reputation of our performance has gotten to a point that we find a lot of our stuff now is just from referrals that we don’t really have to go, you know, drive around and make cold calls and pound on shop doors trying to get conversations started with farmers that it’s easier. Now, so much of this is coming from a referral that somebody, you know, heard about this neighbor saw the results from a neighbor. We’re getting to where we have a pretty good established dealer network around the United States. And we have found that our biggest success, when we’re looking for dealers or people want to be, you know, handle our product line, we’re always looking for the people who work in the microbial realm because we we have to have a healthy microbial population in order for our product to bring its, you know, greatest chance of efficacy on onto your farm.
Tom Wood: [00:12:15] We are a we’re a food source for the beneficial microbial population, and we trigger a specific enzymatic response from a lot of the microbes that we have in the soil. So it’s a hand in glove relationship we have with the microbial people. We will run into a situation. Sometimes guys get kind of territorial and no, no, this I’ve got this product and it does all of this and I don’t need anything else. And that’s not what we do. I’m not here to replace your biologicals. There’s many instances that I will require the farmer to go find a biological input to a company with us. And from those type of relationships, well, you know, we’ll pick up a dealer somewhere. And when they added our product in, I make the comment sometimes that our the base ingredient, the sand here in our products is kind of like dumping gas onto an existing fire. We we will blow up what you’ve traditionally come to expect. So then that dealer will talk to another dealer somewhere that he knows the dealers will meet together at a conference. And so much of what we we run into anymore is just it’s a lot of word of mouth.
Tom Wood: [00:13:27] It’s it’s a lot of organic stuff that comes great. Shows like this one that I’m at right now have been a tremendous source of contacts for us, because the people there’s two types of trade shows. We realized within the agricultural sphere. A lot of what we traditionally think of for farmers are the equipment shows. Everybody’s there to see that the new biggest tractor and the new biggest grain combine and the new, shiniest paint. Those trade shows are not where our market base is located. If you’re if a farmer is just there to look at the new paint, they generally walk past the vendors like us and try not to make eye contact. So we have learned that there’s some of these educational type things that go on at these. These are where we we find we can help the most people the quickest. These people are everybody here is open minded. Everybody is kind of they’re already engaged in doing things differently. Um, they want to start trying to figure out how to do things differently. So we’ve learned to kind of tailor pinpoint that the trade shows that we go to more to this educational type, rather than just a fancy paint show, if you will.
Stone Payton: [00:14:41] Yeah. And just doing good work and generating genuine results is a is a marvelous sales tool, isn’t it.
Speaker4: [00:14:49] Absolutely.
Tom Wood: [00:14:50] There’s there’s no there’s no stronger I don’t care what your advertising budget is. You cannot outspend word of mouth advertising. That is the most powerful advertisement that you will ever get as a referral from a from a successful customer. So. Absolutely.
Stone Payton: [00:15:07] Amen. So what kind of timeline are we talking about? And I suspect it varies in different cases, but how long does it take typically to get to turn around and get get some some real results from your work?
Tom Wood: [00:15:19] A lot of what we can I mean, it depends on what you’re after, where we’re starting from. What is your end goal, what do you want to achieve and in what time frame do you want to achieve that there are times where, you know, time and money sometimes are working against each other. If you want to make some drastic changes in one year, you’re going to have to spend some some money in order to do that. But most of the time I tell people that you start moving into this regenerative mindset way of farming. You kind of have to be committed to this, that it, uh, you may not see a spectacular result the first year. The problem that we have is so often in production, agriculture, we have turned our soils into drug addicts. Our soils cannot function without synthetic nitrogen. Our soils are so depleted of microbial life, we cannot function without a synthetic fungicide. So sometimes it’s going to cost a farmer a little bit more. To start doing this, you as the farmer operator, you don’t get to decide that we’re just going to quit doing this. You have to earn the right to quit doing this, whatever it is, and your farm will let you know. All of a sudden, one year you just realized we didn’t have to spray a fungicide.
Tom Wood: [00:16:37] This year, we never got infected with anything. Our nematode population. We didn’t have any problems with nematodes. That the SDS sudden death syndrome in the soybeans didn’t manifest on our place like it did on the farms around us. So I find, though, that this is usually 2 to 3 years, that it takes a little bit to really turn things around. And when I started to realize this pattern, dealing with farmers all across the United States, that it was kind of odd to me that that’s the time frame it takes to transition into organic production is three years. So there’s somebody knew something about this. Years ago, an organic farmer started to become a thing. But it, uh, like I say it, it depends a little on time versus money, what your budget is and how far do we want to try to go in what time frame. But but usually, like I said, we can make some big differences in year one. But if farmers committed to this by year three and a lot of instances you won’t recognize your farm anymore, you will have changed it and come so far that you’re just you’ll look back and won’t recognize the way you used to do things.
Stone Payton: [00:17:47] I’m going to switch gears on you a little bit before we wrap. Uh, I mean, I don’t know where you would find the time, but I am interested to know what passions, hobbies, pursuits outside the scope of what we’ve been talking about. Uh, are you involved in. My listeners know that I like to hunt, fish and travel. That’s how I unwind. Uh, but. Yeah. What do you do to unwind?
Speaker4: [00:18:11] I.
Tom Wood: [00:18:12] It’s a good thing that I enjoy what I do for a living, because anymore I find I don’t. I grew, I used to love, love to snowmobile, I, I guess I still do, I still have my big gnarly mod sled. Don’t have time to ride them much anymore. Summertime. I love riding dirt bikes. I really love farming. It’s dumb as it sounds. It’s not that it isn’t full of grueling days of backbreaking labor these days still, but I love farming. I absolutely love what I do in that aspect. But, uh, yeah, anymore. I used to ride bulls, um, team rope, all kinds of stuff when I was younger, had more time. So I enjoy the travel. I really enjoy the travel aspect of, uh, of this job and, and the opportunities it provides me to see the country and, uh, meet people who are somewhat of a similar mindset to what I am. So.
Stone Payton: [00:19:06] Yeah. All right. What’s the best way for our listeners to connect with you have a more substantive conversation with you or someone else on your team, whether it’s a LinkedIn email, whatever.
Tom Wood: [00:19:17] Yeah. If they, uh, we got a really fantastic website. If you go to w three or w WW or Ganesan or g a n I s a n corp. Com or Ganesan. Corp. Com we have a lot of research stuff posted up there. Papers, testimonials. You’ll find a link in there. Um, there’s a couple of we have a YouTube channel. There’s a couple of video presentations on there where people they’ve recorded me giving presentations to groups of farmers. So you can go on there. I will explain sometimes in too much detail. I’ve been told how our how our base product works, how what you can expect out of it, uh, you can find me. I don’t do a lot of social media. I’m on, uh, LinkedIn is probably the, uh, the best place to find me on, on social media. So. Feel free to reach out.
Stone Payton: [00:20:14] Well, Tom, it has been an absolute delight having you on the show, man. Keep up the good work. The work you’re doing is so important not only to our president, but I, you know, I feel like it’s so important to our future. And we sure appreciate you, man.
Tom Wood: [00:20:31] Well, thank you, I appreciate that. So we’ll. Keep your nose to the grindstone.
Stone Payton: [00:20:37] All right, until next time. This is Stone Payton for our guest today, Tom wood with Organic Sand Corporation and everyone here at the Business RadioX family saying, we’ll see you in the fast lane.