When Eric Kampe launched Ann Arbor Seed Co
with his wife, Meredith Kahn, three years ago he had visions of turning his passion for seed collecting into a full-time job. The Ann Arbor resident is just about there.
The Ann Arbor-based seed company now consumes enough hours of his day to qualify as a full-time gig. He also works two days a week at the Brinery to bring in extra cash to help grow his business. Kahn still has her day job at the University of Michigan but Ann Arbor Seed Co has grown to the point that Kampe and Kahn have brought on another friend to help keep up with demand.
"We're at the stage where she is employed here but we can't pay her what she deserves," Kampe says.
Ann Arbor Seed Co offers seeds for a growing variety of plants. It started out offering 10 varieties of the basics, like tomatoes and leafy greens. It grew its product portfolio to 27 varieties in 2014. This year it's at 38 different varieties that are for sale local farmers markets and stores.
Kampe has noticed that his customers have begun asking for more and more seed and more obscure seeds. To help meet that sort of demand he and his wife have bought a truck and built a second hoop house behind their home to keep up with production needs.
"It's about the journey, not the destination," Kampe says. "They day to day is great. It's great to be out here."
Source: Eric Kampe, co-founder of Ann Arbor Seed Co
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.