EnviroFlight leaves Yellow Springs
- Published: September 14, 2022
After 13 years of operations, EnviroFlight has officially left Yellow Springs.
Founded in the Millworks industrial park in 2009 by Glen Courtright, the sustainable agriculture company produces animal and plant feed made from black soldier fly larvae. Courtright sold the company to Darling Ingredients in 2016.
While EnviroFlight’s lease on its Millworks property continues through the end of 2022, operations have now moved entirely to the company’s headquarters and main production site in Maysville, Ky., and a newly opened research and development facility in Apex, N.C.
On Friday, Sept. 2, the last remaining employee working at the Millworks location, plant manager and now-former village resident Dan Black packed his bags and moved to his new home in North Carolina.
“It’s been a good run,” Black said in a recent interview. “All my family’s up here, but at the end of the day, when an opportunity comes up, I’m taking it.”
Since EnviroFlight’s inception, the company has provided Yellow Springs nearly 30 jobs — many of which were held by village residents — and generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in utility payments and income taxes. According to Black, only a couple of employees from the Yellow Springs site are moving to the new North Carolina research facility. The rest, he said, opted to find new work. Now, between the Maysville and Apex sites, the company currently employs nearly 70 people.
Although the Village arranged for $210,000 in county and state incentives to retain EnviroFlight, the approximately $800,000 in incentives to further develop the Maysville and Apex locations won out.
Additionally, the company’s decision to leave town was undergirded by Millworks’ previous owners Jessica Yamamoto and Antonio Molina electing not to renew the company’s lease on its 25,000-square-foot rental property beyond 2022. Current Millworks owner and property manager Allison Moody told the News the first thing she did when she purchased the industrial park in February 2021 was try to encourage EnviroFlight to stay.
“I told them how much I value them as an employer in town, but it was too late,” Moody said. “They had already gotten the wheels in motion to move into their new headquarters.”
EnviroFlight Vice President of Business Development Carrie Kuball told the News via email that, beyond the financial incentives EnviroFlight received to relocate, it was the proximity of other agriculture technology companies that drew them to build out their North Carolina research facility.
“That area of the country … allows for better networking within our industry,” Kuball said. “We had already started looking for a new location by the time the offer came from Allison, and had locked in on a building site in the ‘Research Triangle’ area of Raleigh.”
Kuball said she appreciates Moody’s help in facilitating the company’s departure from the village. From decommissioning equipment and the disassembling of the large machinery to cleaning the warehouses and deodorizing the former production spaces, Kuball said Moody has “ensured a smooth transition” for the buildings’ next tenants.
“Moving a business like this is certainly not easy,” Kuball said. “We’ve had to plan very carefully for moving the insects from Ohio to North Carolina to ensure their health.”
At the forefront of this moving process has been Black, who has worked at the Yellow Springs location since 2014.
He started at EnviroFlight “just doing grunt work,” as he put it, but as the company grew, so did his responsibilities. After several years of overseeing the processing of the larvae, he moved up to running production — which meant directly dealing with the growth of the insects on a day-to-day basis. Black eventually ascended to a managerial role — a position he’s held for the last four years.
But since early July, Black’s job has been clearing out his old work space.
“I’ve been making sure that the buildings are going to be where they need to be by the time the lease officially ends on December 31,” Black said.
Black said he’s spent the past two months driving back and forth between Ohio and North Carolina, bringing equipment, technology and — most importantly — bugs to the new site.
“It’s been a lot,” he said.
Having departed for good last week, and with the Yellow Springs facility mostly vacant, Black said some of the remaining equipment such as metallic racks, storage bins and scrap materials have been bought by area farmers and will soon be taken from the property.
“I’m certainly sad to see [EnviroFlight] go,” Moody said. “They really aligned with the values of Yellow Springs. They were eco-friendly — growing super high-nutrient food for animals from bugs, with every step of that process with the earth in mind — and they provided the village with a lot of great jobs.”
Despite leaving town, Kuball said she hopes the company’s novel legacy will persist.
“Yellow Springs provided EnviroFlight with the opportunity to grow and develop an industry that was unheard of in U.S. agriculture,” she said. “We hope our friends in Yellow Springs always stay proud of us and the accomplishments we are achieving to help feed a growing world population. We know where our roots are as a company; we are forever grateful for the hospitality we received while we were there.”
Millworks, moving on and forward
Moody said she’s already begun searching for EnviroFlight’s successors but, as she explained, finding tenants to occupy 25,000 square feet split between five buildings can be difficult.
“I have a list of potential tenants,” Moody said. “But I’m trying to prioritize local companies who pay good wages — because that’s a really big deal in Yellow Springs.”
Although Moody declined to say which companies were eying the EnviroFlight buildings, she did say several of her current tenants — specifically Yellow Springs Baking Company, Yellow Springs Brewery and Tuck-N-Red’s Spirits & Wine — are looking to expand into more space to accommodate production, distribution and storage.
In addition to those three companies, Millworks is the home of Spencer Building Group, Sculptor’s Emporium, Richard Lapedes’ and Michael Jones’ shared art studio, Heather Horton’s psychotherapy and astrology space and, most recently, Village Solar Company.
“I’m offering the [EnviroFlight] space to existing tenants first,” Moody said. “Ultimately, I want tenants who will get along with one another. It’s a little micro-community at Millworks.”
Moody, a commercial realtor who lives in Yellow Springs, purchased the four-acre industrial property for $1.5 million from the previous owners early last year. She manages the property as part of her family’s company, APR investments, a joint venture between herself, her brother, Paul Moody, and her father, Richard Moody. That company also owns another 500,000 square feet of industrial space and four self-storage facilities in the Dayton region.
Now, approaching her two-year anniversary since acquiring the Millworks property, Moody said her goal — beyond accommodating the needs of her existing tenants — is to develop the property into a more community-oriented space and to continue to bridge the divide between it and the downtown business district.
The most prominent development of Moody’s efforts is the paving of the parking lot, which had previously been a gravel drive.
“We paved just under an acre — about 39,000 square feet — to create 68 spaces, plus some overflow,” Moody said. “Previously, there were only about 45 parking spaces.”
That project, which took place over several weeks earlier this summer, cost $140,000 — a price that not only included the asphalt, but also reinvigorating and rerouting the property’s drainage system.
“Our engineers really wanted to make sure water was going to go the right way,” Moody said. “We’re trying really hard not to flood the brewery, and I think we succeeded.”
Also on the Millworks property, Moody oversaw a number of other projects, some public-facing and others more mundane. There’s now a walking path that connects the newly paved lot to the bike trail. She’s improved the property’s shared bathrooms, replaced doors, serviced garage doors, made repairs on the chimneys and roofs, which span nearly 80,000 square feet between all the buildings, and added new signage to direct pedestrian traffic throughout the site.
“A big part of my job is making the properties more accessible for everyone,” Moody said. “I’ve had several people tell me their husband or wife hasn’t been able to go to the Brewery in several years [because of the gravel driveway]. Now they can. Accessibility is a huge part of my responsibility as a property owner.”
Moody also said she recently saw a skateboarder flying down the newly paved, sloped parking lot — a sight she said made her happy.
Moving forward, Moody said she hopes to build out Millworks to become more attractive for visitors and villagers alike. She said she wants to paint many of the buildings and quonset huts with bright colors and eventually to put down gravel in the lot abutting Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road to create additional overflow parking.
“I’d like Millworks to be a destination for community events like Street Fair or PorchFest,” she said. “We have the space. It turns out when you provide seating areas, public bathrooms and food for people, they’re going to stick around a lot longer.”
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