Episode-772- Trevor Van Hemert from Pedal to Petal

Trevor Van Hemert of PedalToPetal.com

Trevor Van Hemert of PedalToPetal.com

Trevor Van Hemert runs Pedal to Petal a company that picks up food scraps from all over the city of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. Pedal To Petal is a permaculture-based collective of bicycle loving food security activists who are taking direct action to reduce carbon emissions and landfill waste and to feed the soil and the city’s hungry.

They do all their pick up and transport via the use of bicycles with zero use of any fossil fuels.  The finished compost is used to grow food in the same city where the components are collected and the compost is produced making Pedal to Petal a truly local business.

While most people would tend to expect Pedal to Petal to be a non profit business it is actually a very successful for profit enterprise proving that a business can be successful, profitable and still have a soul and a noble purpose.

Join us today as we discuss…

  • What is Pedal to Petal and what makes it unique
  • The importance of building a “transition business” in modern times
  • How Pedal to Petal is able to successfully compete with larger competitors
  • Why/how the Amish business model has a 99% success rate
  • Why you may want to cap the growth of a business
  • The concept of “spin farming”
  • What is a compost host
  • How yard and food wastes can be profitable
  • Why it is better to charge to pick up waste then for finished compost

Additional Resources for Today’s Show

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35 Responses to Episode-772- Trevor Van Hemert from Pedal to Petal

  1. Hey Jack and Listeners,

    It looks like the Business the Amish Way ebook has already been written!

    http://amishbusinessbook.com/

    -Trevor

  2. David Galloway

    Jack/Trevor:

    Great show today! Showcasing how smart people are building sustainable businesses inexpensively gets the ol’ entrepreneur gears turning. Can’t wait until late Spring 2012 when I can drop the second job and devote time to my startup. Thanks for the quality programming!

  3. Just a minor correction. Darren Doherty has been the driving force behind the regenerative rather than sustainable concept, not Geoff Lawton. Credit where credit is due :)

  4. Awesome. I’m a huge fan of cycling for both recreation and survival cases.
    Unfortunately I live in very hilly western Washington (Seattle metro) and it takes some serious conditioning to haul cargo up our hills.

    Do you have any tips for cargo bike propulsion? There used to be assist motors like this: http://clevercycles.com/products/stokemonkey/ but seem no defunct.

    Great show.
    -Sean

  5. Doug Bergstrom

    Super wonderful show today … I do have a question you may-well be able to post and answer to for all of the rest of us listening. I accessed the Pedal to Petal site and there is a page that is supposed to tell how they make their compost —- but, it is empty. Maybe you could contact Trevor to post the process so we can all learn. Thanks to Trevor for his willingness to share his business ideas and willingness to tell us all how to set up such a business in our own community. Oh – the best book I have found on the Amish business model is = Success Made Simple, by Erik Wesner – super great book and just the place to start with Trevor’s ideas.

    • Hi Doug,

      Yes I actually drastically changed our compost building technique recently, we have a much more effective system that we’ve pioneered, which balances three very important factors for us: bulk/weight of carbon feedstock, speed of compost process and quality of finished compost. I’m quite excited to publish our new process, and am currently working on a draft of the method. I’ve taken down our old “layering with biofilter” method, because it’s inferior to our new method, in my opinion. Jack and I will be doing another show in November, where we will focus primarily on composting methods.

      Trev

  6. Really not interested in this ep. Sorry Jack too eco hippy. You should come to Portland, OR and interact with the bike nazi types…

    Love the gardening stuff and have agreed with you (in the past) on the environ. But there have been many interviews lately I have not been interested in. I miss the 2008 episodes…

    Not trying to be a dick or flame. Just some honest feedback.

    • Modern Survival

      @DEW, if you call this an eco hippie episode you are only one of two things.

      1. An honest man who judged it based on the subject and didn’t listen to it. As 90% of this episode was how to run a successful and profitable business it certainly wasn’t even close to being a hippy topic. I am sorry but there is no way anyone could have actually listened to this and decided it was eco hippy. It would be one thing to not like it, that’s fine but you totally have mischaracterized it.

      or

      2. Your one of my stalker/snipers

      I will leave it to you as to which is the case. FTR I am getting a strong feeling that you are really a long term listener and item one is the correct answer. Two is possible but if I believed it to be most likely I would have simply deleted and not approved your comment. If so give it a listen it may surprise you, A LOT.

      • I may have mischaracterized it and if it is 90% about business then I will give a listen. For the record I do truly miss your rants.

  7. Great show Jack. I like the idea of a business round-table show. I cannot believe he is early twenties!

  8. Serious common ground here Jack. Between this and all the permaculture stuff as of late (Paul Weaton et. al.), bravo.
    Thanks.

  9. Incredible perspective on business and life

  10. Sorry Jack,

    This great biz idea is about as profitable as a newspaper route and much more labor and capital intensive. Great for a kid but not for a mortgage holder

    • Modern Survival

      @Daddy and you base this on what, you lack of understanding of numbers? Seriously 500 clients with an average COGS per unit of say 16 dollars a month = what? 8,000 a month with almost zero overhead. Ramp that up to 1,000 clients you are looking at 192K a year, say you have 10 employees, all part time no benefits each would make at most 20K a year, that is still 92K to the owner. Hmm, gee, well, guess what? That would be a hell of a lot more than the average person in the US makes.

      Based on Trevor’s numbers I am being quite conservative here by the way.

    • Ryan Lewellin

      Sounds like it’s working out well enough for Trevor. If it doesn’t pay enough, find an idea that does and go for it.

  11. Jack,

    Cost of goods sold more often refers to a company that sells a product and not a service. I understand your point about low expenses. I wonder about workers compensation insurance. According to his own words on your program, he is just getting by after 3 years. Ask him. I did! 500 customers perhaps but how much revenue? He averages less than 30 buckets a day and that’s 4 days a week. $800 a week and I’m being conservative. 24years old? Great, and I respect him for that, but hardly setting the world on fire or anywhere close to 92k. Again, ASK HIM!!!
    Perhaps I sounded a little insulting before and I appologize for that. Personally, I listen to you because I beleive in your sincerity not your sarcasim.

    But seriously Jack…
    Them numbers good enough for ya?

    • Oh and 2 0k x 10 is 200 k if I’m not mistaking.= neg 8000
      How about some thumbs up on that math, Jacks minions?

    • Modern Survival

      @Daddy isn’t it funny how people hear what they want to hear?

      He didn’t say he averaged 30 buckets a day, he stated a carrier (one person) does that, he sated 400-500 current customers and 5-15 dollars per pick up with and average pick up per customer of 2 a month.

      To me the business is scalable and your entire attitude was just BS and not a reflection of the facts right from the get go. Even if your numbers were correct and they are not how many paper boys make 800 a week working a 4 day work week. That 800 is really what he makes from his own efforts dude, it doesn’t include his employees. Even with that, again no overhead and a 4 day work week with an income of about 40K, quite a bit better than many people are doing now isn’t it.

      It is easy to scoff at the efforts of others.

  12. Trevor here,

    I thought I’d weigh in on all this talk of the financials. As I stated on the show, this company pays all my bills and more, and I’ve never once in my life needed welfare, employment insurance, a bank loan or any handout of any kind.

    I don’t care if I’m making 10,000 per year or 100,000 per year, as long as my expenses are less than my income, and I’m living the life I want. In my mind, someone making 100K per year with 120K in expenses is poorer and more miserable than someone making 10K per year with 8K in expenses.

    Ask yourself, what would you be doing if you had enough money that you didn’t ever need to work a day in your life again. I can confidently say that I’d still be doing what I’m doing. That’s true wealth, and that’s what I feel I have.

  13. Trevor,
    That is awsome and more power to you. I just feel that the facts have been somewhat overstated. Can you please break down the financials a little bit more for those of us who aren’t as math wizardly as Jack? Average day, week, year. Seriously, real numbers not exagerations or “you can do the math” Will you make 40k this year? Or more simply, how many buckets does the company as a whole average in one day? What kind of expenses? Workers Comp? Jack is famous for his research. I just beleive he is the one hearing what he wants here and ,yes, this is truly human nature. If I’m wrong, I will apologize. It will be interesting to see if Jack will do the same.

  14. Ryan Lewellin

    I couldn’t believe I was listening to someone who was only 24 – most people that age seem to be focused on playing video games, surfing internet porn and beer. Good work!

    • I think 50 years ago, you wouldn’t be shocked by my age. The landscape has shifted so since then that kids who don’t grow up until they are in their 30’s is considered normal.

    • You’re right – I’m not that much older than you (30) but it’s kind of funny to hear how our parents and grandparents were living in their mid-20’s compared to the average mid-20’s “kid” today. They had established careers, families, homes, did some time in the military, etc.

  15. I guess I’m being ignored. It’s lonely being right.

    • Modern Survival

      @Daddy, no you are not right, we have just said what we have to say and are done wasting our energy.

    • What cop out! Why not just admit it or answer the question. A paper route or pizza delivery would be more profitable and there is no shame in either, Trevor’s way or the latter. Very dissapointing Jack.
      Trevor- best wishes and I hope you much success.

      • Modern Survival

        @Daddy, saying I gave you an answer and if you don’t accept it tough shit, isn’t a cop out. It is saying something one time and sticking with it. I gave you solid numbers that are more than doable, if you don’t believe them, well what ever, go on limiting yourself, it won’t hurt my life or Trevor’s for a moment.

        • Okay tough guy. Let’s see if you allow this post.

          Here’s your tough shit. I didn’t want to do it but here are the numbers from your boy’s correspondence. Again his words. Not mine.
          He (Trevor) states:

          “Here’s an email exchange I had with some frenchie in Montreal, who wanted to start one of these crazy compost companies. You have to start at the bottom, and make your way up.In BC, you don’t have to worry about a lot of the more complicated aspects of a business until you are netting over 30,000$ annually in sales/proceeds. For my web shop, Fernwood Web Design, I don’t collect any HST taxes or worry about business license sorts of things because I am still well below this 30,000 threshhold. In BC, you don’t have to worry about a lot of the more complicated aspects of a business until you are netting over 30,000$ annually in sales/proceeds. For my web shop, Fernwood Web Design, I don’t collect any HST taxes or worry about business license sorts of things because I am still well below this 30,000 threshhold.Although we have about 400 clients, we in reality only pick up about 145 buckets per week. Most clients get a pickup every other week, many are far less frequent even than that. For that 145 buckets, we run 7.5 routes a week (thursdays are every other week) and employ a total of 7 cyclists, including myself, and 1 logistics person who hauls finished compost, carbon and builds bins. This works out to about 20 buckets per person… once this gets up to about 25 again, I’ll hire another person.

          Again, his words not mine. I gave more than enough chances to let you and he clarify but to no availe. It’s out now and I’ll be happy to forward you a copy of his email. By my crude calculations, he averages less than 10k a year. Taxes or not, he doesn’t make more than pizza delivery or news paper route. He does have more of my respect than you do at this point as I get the feeling that you spoke to him in more detail about this topic after my post.
          No! I’m not a sniper but I will keep it real.
          No! I don’t expect you to appologize as you are not man enough.

          What about them numbers tough guy?

          Where is my respect, much respect dude?

          Anytime anywhere Jack

          Chris Stone
          Denver, Colorado

        • Modern Survival

          @Daddy, all you have proven is that you are a self limiting asshole. All my numbers are completely valid and doable. Exactly what Trevor’s turn over is isn’t the issue as to what can be done with this model. Again the business pays the mans bills. It is up to him how big he builds this, how much he markets it, how much he wants to work, etc. As you are most likely an employee and will always be I understand how it is hard for you to grasp these concepts.

          I can tell you I could build a business like this easily into a quarter million dollar concern, I can give you ARPU to demonstrate it, etc. I would likely do things a bit differently than Trevor, like I would use electric bikes in some areas and mopeds in others, etc. Yet that has nothing to do with the business model which is what you in your limited vision attacked.

          As for your internet based “tough guy” bullshit bravado, after almost four years of doing this it takes a lot more than that to get under my skin. Now go on about your miserable existence and continue to believe you are smarter than everyone else.

        • yes Jack, I’m self limiting asshole employee who cant count. And you can’t hide your true colors very well. You big name calling meany. ; )

        • I’m very disappointed at the way “Daddy” has handled himself here. He has used my willingness to help others start up a business like this as a weapon to shit on what I and others have built.

          I shouldn’t have to defend myself to anyone, and the following is the only thing I will ever say on the matter again. As anyone can plainly see from the email, I clearly state that the Web Design business makes far less than 30,000 per year, not the compost business. The compost business nets well in excess of 50,000 in total annual proceeds, and the bucket numbers quoted above are for residential customers only, not counting business customers.

          I will say nothing more on this matter. I had hoped to keep financials out of this conversation, because it’s really no one else’s business but my own.

          There is a lesson to be gleaned from this conversation though, and it’s one Jack has mentioned multiple times on his show. When you start your own business, whether it’s something new and innovative, or tried and true – people will come out of the woodwork saying “you’ll never make a living from that” and “you’re foolish for even trying.” Anyone who allows themselves to be influenced by these toxic comments will never achieve their dream of escaping from the tyranny of working for another.

  16. Christopher Harrison

    AWESOME episode Jack and Trevor! Very inspiring!

    I also have to say that it’s people like the two of you who helped me to realize that “business” by itself isn’t inherently bad, and that it’s not only entirely possible for people to make a profit while simultaneously making the world (or at least their corner of it) a better place — but that the two can often go hand-in-hand. You two are examples 1A and 1B of that in the flesh.

    When I hear stuff like this, it inspires me to develop plans to start a business of my own — even a small-scale part-time one — that helps me to quicken my 5-year plan to personal and economic freedom (currently 1 year in). Thanks for the great stuff!

    • Modern Survival

      @Christopher Harrison, great man go for it. I have always been dismayed by people that felt they wanted a job but business was evil. I wondered who they expected to work for and what they expected to be doing? The big business small business myth is also really kind of dumb. If business couldn’t buy regulators there would be very few issues in the business world.