Nampa manure startup gets shot at free Super Bowl ad

Poop - Natural Dairy Compost, a Nampa fertilizer company, is one of four finalists in a contest that will award a 30-second spot during the big game.

zkyle@idahostatesman.comNovember 12, 2013 

If you think it unwise to bet against adorable children talking about "pooping their plants," then don't bet against a Nampa fertilizer company's effort to reach a national audience.

The company, Poop - Natural Dairy Compost, is one of four small businesses named as finalists in a contest by software company Intuit. The prize: a free 30-second video played Feb. 2 during the Super Bowl.

The company sells its bags of processed, odorless manure online and in one store in Meridian. A Super Bowl ad could help the business bloom, partner Scott Den Hartog said. This year's game was watched by 111 million Americans.

"We are probably the smallest and youngest (company) in the group," Den Hartog said. "This (company) is a part-time gig, but I'm hoping it turns into full-time work."

For now, Den Hartog is keeping his day job. So are his two partners. All three are from Nampa. Den Hartog, 33, works at Wells Fargo. His brother-in-law, Glenn Vander Woude, 37, is a sales representative for Lallemand, which sells animal nutrition and inoculation products. Their mutual friend Ben Bieri, 33, is a managing partner at Slyngshot Marketing Strategies in Boise.

The partners started the company in January. Den Hartog said it was a solution to two problems: unemployment and acres of manure.

Vander Woude had sold about 400 head of dairy cows as part of shutting down his family's Mason Creek Dairy on Ridgewood Road just east of Nampa. That left Vander Woude out of work. Bieri was also unemployed at the time. They talked with Den Hartog about selling the tons of manure left on the dairy as fertilizer. Vander Woude had sold truck and trailer loads of raw manure for years.

"We figured there's probably a better way to do this," Den Hartog said. "Most people don't need that much."

The partners came up with a system to age and screen the manure to make it odorless and fine, like coffee grounds. That made the manure easy for customers to spread using hand-operated compost spreaders. More importantly, the processed manure was easy to sell in 50-pound bags for $11.49 apiece at Legacy Feed & Fuel in Meridian.

Starting in the spring, Poop will be available at six D&B Supply stores in the Treasure Valley, Den Hartog said.

After hearing about the contest, the partners submitted an entry explaining what the company does and why the business should be considered. The judges were interested enough to ask for a 90-second video. That video is now featured on intuit.com with videos from the other three finalists: dog treat maker Barley Labs of Durham, N.C.; toymaker GoldieBlox of Oakland, Calif.; and egg producer Locally Laid Egg Co. of Duluth, Minn.

The video draws heavily on the appeal of children and on Americans' penchant for giggling at the word "poop." The word is uttered 17 times in the video. The partners tapped their children — 11 in all, ages 10 and younger — for acting talent.

The contest has already received coverage from national media outlets, including Bloomberg TV, CNBC, Fox News and The Wall Street Journal. Den Hartog said the attention is giving the kids big heads.

"They are beside themselves," he said "They think they are stars."

A public vote ending Dec. 2 will determine which finalist will win the free TV ad.

Multiple votes are allowed. Aimee Russell, of Meridian, said she voted for the company's video four times Monday and once Tuesday, although Intuit says "your vote counts only once a day, per business."

Russell said two bags of the fertilizer gave her small garden beds their best year so far. She grew several watermelons after attempts in past years failed. Her peppers flourished.

Nampa Mayor Tom Dale said he voted for the company's video Tuesday and urged other Nampa residents to vote as well.

"We need to spread the word," Dale said.

Zach Kyle: 377-6464, @IDS_zachkyle

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