October 9, 2020

SMALL BUSINESS PROFILE

For Louisville-Based OrganoCat, a Mix of Planning, Preparation and Agility Pays Dividends During Pandemic


Running a startup focused heavily on international sales, OrganoCat's leaders quickly reworked their development and sales operations when the global pandemic took hold this spring.

The Louisville-based science and tech company develops a range of products containing humics – active organic compounds found in soil – for a variety of industries and uses. OrganoCat's products benefit crop yield, livestock, environmental remediation, industrial processes and other applications globally.

Now, with a series of strategic changes in their business operations, the three-employee company is charting its best year yet.

Jeff Sangalli, OrganoCat vice president and general manager, explained the company's pandemic pivot included establishing partnerships to move ahead its international product trials and sales operations. Where executives would have traveled directly, they shifted strategies, used their small-company agility and, of course, daily video conferences.

"In Brazil, two gentlemen formed a sales entity, representing us there," Sangalli said. "In Nigeria, COVID accelerated our contracting of an in-country person to work on our behalf. We were working toward a trial but the government's product registration office shut down. So we focused on setting up other aspects of the trial and preparing our commercial side. When the government office reopens, we'll be ready to move ahead."

As well, export-assistance grants through the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development continue to play a key role in OrganoCat's success.

Those grants, awarded through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), provide up to $10,000 to reimburse export-related expenses, such as training workshops, website optimization and digital marketing materials, product compliance testing and subscription services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Businesses can also use grants to lower the costs of international trade missions, sales trips, export trade show exhibits and other qualifying travel expenses.

"STEP grants have helped us by giving us funds to extend our work, take that trip and make that investment," Sangalli said. "This year has been a record year. When we went to the big national trade shows in winter 2019, all the talk was hemp. This year, it was humics. We were fortunate those events occurred in January and February."

Sangalli started tapping STEP for OrganoCat in 2017. He has used the funding for business expenses in Brazil, Nigeria, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru. Many of those trips laid the groundwork for this year's projects and successes.

STEP grants are available from the Cabinet on a first come, first served basis. The program aims to create new revenue, jobs and growth opportunities for companies in the commonwealth.

As customer awareness for OrganoCat's products grows, so will the international demand. With products for a range of industries - including petrochemical, food processing, agriculture, water processing, soil restoration and environmental remediation - and a proven ability to realign business operations, the company's future looks bright.

Learn more about OrganoCat at www.organocat.com.

Learn more about the STEP program and apply here. Email completed applications to STEP Director Gill Finley at gill.finley@ky.gov. Find out more about Kentucky's exporting efforts at www.KyExports.com.