Randy Butts spent 10 years working as an engineer before he made the decision to do what he really wanted to do—become a grower.
By David Kuack
Randy Butts started Eden Farms Inc. in Lebanon, Ind., in August 2006. Before starting his hydroponic greenhouse operation he got sidetracked for 10 years working as an engineer in the automation and controls industry. “I always wanted to move beyond the engineering field and work for myself,” Butts said. “I had a deep-seated love of agriculture. For a period of time I did some traditional farming. I worked for a farmer who produced corn and soybeans. “Unfortunately, there’s no easy avenue to get started in traditional farming today. You don’t just go out and buy acres of land and $200,000 tractors to farm it.”
Because of the limitations he encountered with traditional farming, Butts started researching hydroponics. “I had some friends who grew hydroponic tomatoes in the ’90s and it always kind of fascinated me,” he said. “It was kind of a marriage of my love of technology and my love of agriculture that I put together and started my own hydroponic operation.” Butts got his business started by purchasing 5,000 square feet of greenhouses on eBay.
“They were Crop King greenhouses that I took down from the company’s facility in Seville, Ohio, and moved to Lebanon,” he said. “I left my engineering job and jumped in with both feet. And yes, I had people ask me if I was nuts. I felt I had to give it 100 percent if I was going to make it work. It has worked out, but not without its ups and downs along the way.”