About Steve and the Urban Worm Company
I'm a dad, a husband, an active veteran, a pilot, a Buckeye, a proud American, and a joyful promoter of vermicomposting via my small business, the Urban Worm Company.
I grew up near the small town of Sunbury, Ohio about 25 minutes north of Columbus. After graduating from Big Walnut High School (yes, that's the real name) in 1993, I attended my freshman year of college in Greensboro, NC before transferring close to home and ultimately graduating from Ohio University in Athens.
After graduation, I enrolled in both graduate school and Air Force ROTC at the Ohio State University, receiving my Master's Degree in Journalism and my commission as an Air Force officer in June 1999.
After Air Force flight school in Del Rio, Texas, I moved to Charleston Air Force Base, SC to fly the mighty C-17 Globemaster III, flying missions mostly in the Middle East after the attacks on 9-11.
In 2005, my career took me to McGuire Air Force Base, NJ just outside of Philadelphia where I met my wife, Tory. Upon leaving active duty in May 2007, I joined the Air Force Reserves at Dover AFB, DE, started flying for Southwest Airlines, and married Tory in June 2008.
I remain active in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and happily employed by Southwest as we raise our children in the Philadelphia suburb of Plymouth Meeting.
The Urban Worm Company
How It Started
A business dedicated to worm composting is a pretty unusual venture for a guy who burns fossil fuel for a living. (It's been done before though!) So it deserves an explanation!
The Urban Worm Company Blog, circa 2015
In 2011, Tory told me she wanted to start an outdoor compost pile. I obliged and piled up the previous fall's leaves and copious amounts of coffee grounds in order to make a blazing hot compost. After it cooled, I was amazed to discover thousands of worms had moved in and I now had a compost pile that didn't look like any compost I'd seen before.
I was fascinated.
After Tory informed me that what I was looking at was actually something called “worm castings,” a nicer term than “worm poop,” I began to research worm composting, or “vermicomposting” in my spare time. But I felt most online resources dedicated to the subject spoke to an audience with far more knowledge than I had at the time.
After achieving some success with very small-scale vermicomposting, I started the Urban Worm Company, a blog aimed at teaching beginning vermicomposters about the basics of how earthworms can recycle organic waste into a valuable fertilizer.
It's funny. When you have a blog and moderate a 16,000+-member Facebook Group dedicated to vermicomposting, people start to consider you an expert! After slowly building an enthusiastic online readership, I became interested in the entrepreneurial side of vermicomposting and vermiculture and the Urban Worm Company blog began featuring profiles of other business owners in the community.
I also began assisting other entrepreneurs in website design, copywriting, and marketing, and was asked to present at the 2017 Vermiculture Conference at North Carolina State University.
This was my real introduction to the serious vermiculture community.
Speaking at the 2017 Vermiculture Conference
What the Urban Worm Company Offers Today
The core mission of the Urban Worm Company is to make the practice of worm composting a little less intimidating for beginners and to help enthusiasts to realistically scale their efforts.
Whether it's the Beginner's Guide to Vermicomposting or the Vermicomposting 101 Series, the content on the Urban Worm Company Blog will remain free and available.
While the Urban Worm Company's mission may expand beyond the home vermicomposter, I won't forget the roots of the business and will continue to produce helpful, relevant content to continue to grow the number of vermicomposters worldwide.
In late 2017, I introduced the Urban Worm Bag, a fabric continuous flow worm composting bin that that leverages the tendency of worms to remain in the top 6 to 8 inches of their environment. The Urban Worm Bag's flow through design allows finished, relatively worm-free worm castings to be harvested from the bottom of the bag, saving hours of tedious separation of worms from the worm compost.
Through the first year of sales in 2018, the Urban Worm Bag has expanded rapidly in the US and Canada. And I have secured a European partner who sells the Urban Worm Bag under the WormSystems brand in the EU.
While I have a product that is rapidly expanding in popularity, the special sauce of the Urban Worm Company is customer service and maintaining a personal knowledge of, and relationship with, my customers.
As I like to say, how I treat people is the one thing that is always under my control.
While I've gotten great feedback from customers about the Urban Worm Bag, I used the positive and negative feedback to inform my design for Version 2, which I released in the summer of 2018.
While I love positive feedback, I actually like getting constructive criticism because it gives me 2 things: helpful feedback on the product and how to make it better, and an opportunity to make it right for my customers.
The Future of the Urban Worm Company
The United States is the world's largest market, yet lags Europe and Australia in terms of the adoption of both large-scale and small-scale vermicomposting. So the growth stage of vermicomposting is clearly ahead of us, thanks to the organic growing movement coupled with heightened awareness of the costs and environmental impact of organic waste unnecessarily entering the waste stream.
Long-term plans for the Urban Worm Company include:
- offering school-wide programs offering grade-appropriate standards-aligned syllabi, using worm composting as a vehicle to satisfy math, English language arts, science, and other subjects. Go here to download a free Teacher's Guide to Vermicomposting and see what we have to offer!
- consulting for medium-scale and larger projects within the United States to include the planning, design, and implementation of conventional composting and vermicomposting solutions tailored to a client's individual needs.
- onshoring the manufacturing of the Urban Worm Bag and its accessories.
- offering marketing services and strategy planning for small- and medium-scale businesses.
Get in Touch!
Whether you have questions about the Urban Worm Bag, getting started in vermicomposting, or you need assistance with a larger project, please get in via one of the methods below!
The 2020 Vermicomposter's Starter Guide
Your roadmap to a successful beginning in vermicomposting.