Brown blends entrepreneurship and conservation
BioHavens help boost land management company
Much of the talk about conservation in Maryland revolves around reducing pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, with focuses on stormwater management, septic systems and fertilizer use.
Another environmental effort involves BioHavens, which grabbed headlines last summer when the 250-square-foot BioHaven Floating Island was installed in Baltimore's Inner Harbor by Patriot Land and Wildlife Management Services of Barnesville. The installation was made in partnership with BlueWing Environmental of Ellicott City and the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
Joe Brown, president of Patriot Land and Wildlife Management Services, said that with the Great Recession having eaten into demand for his company's landscape services, focusing on new products such as the floating islands has helped its bottom line.
The Inner Harbor "project shows tremendous promise in restoring the health and quality of the waterfront area and the Chesapeake Bay watershed in general," Brown said. "Being a young company, we are always on the offensive when it comes to locating and implementing new ideas and technologies that may someday change the face of environmental resource management."
BioHaven floating islands help control algae and other growth in stormwater management ponds and other bodies of water. The islands, made of recycled materials, process nutrients to control the algae, Brown said.
The goal of the Inner Harbor project is for the aquarium staff to study it and how microbes and organisms colonize around it, Brown said. The aquarium has collected a "better quality of samples" since the island was installed.
Modeled after natural floating islands in Wisconsin, the BioHaven Floating Islands from Patriot and BlueWing are made of recycled plastic, which provides a concentrated surface area for microbes to colonize and absorb nutrients, according to Patriot information.
It costs about $32 per square foot to install a floating island, BlueWing managing partner Ted Gattino said. He and Brown said they have plans to install more in the Inner Harbor to help meet nutrient reduction goals for the Bay.
Officials at the aquarium couldn't be reached for comment, but its blog notes it has introduced manmade floating wetlands as "an innovative approach" to upgrade water quality.
Saving people and
A member of the Wildlife Management Advisory Committee for the Maryland Farm Bureau, Brown also is president and co-founder of the Western Chesapeake Watershed branch of the Quality Deer Management Association, a conservation nonprofit that promotes healthy deer and habitats.
And Brown works to save people, as well as the environment, as a volunteer firefighter.
Brown, 27, who earned a degree in environmental resource management at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said he got the idea for his company because "I knew what kind of company I wanted to work for and ... I knew the skill set that I wanted to be involved in, and there was just nobody doing what now we are doing."
Patriot is a "multifaceted natural resource management company" he named for a friend, Kirk J. Bosselmann, a Marine killed in action in Iraq in 2004.
Brown envisions Patriot as a "one-stop shop" for land, water and wildlife management services. Its services include creating, managing and maintaining habitat and aquatic systems; and wildlife improvement and control services.
"We're more of a group of environmentally minded employees that look to help clients get the most from their resources," Brown said, adding his company has about five employees normally, with more depending on seasonal needs. Patriot also works with several contractors.
Brown spent about $10,000 to launch the company five years ago, but he said growth was a "slow process" because of his lack of a business background, and he declined to disclose revenues.
Patriot's reach now extends throughout the Chesapeake Watershed and its clients include land management companies, homeowner associations and private landowners "pretty much anybody that has access or needs to control a resource on their property," he said.
Wildlife management projects
Patriot helps homeowner associations control deer herds by designing community-based deer management programs, including fencing and repellents, Brown said.
Patriot has worked on several projects with Environmental Systems Analysis, a natural resource management and ecological restoration company in Annapolis. Their projects have included salvaging amphibians, fish and reptiles from two sites in Howard and St. Mary's counties and relocating them to other areas, said Mark Burchick, an associate with Environmental Systems.
"We need smaller contractors who are more hands-on," Burchick said. He described Brown and Patriot as "hard workers with a good work ethic ... I feel comfortable [Brown] will deliver."
The company's customer service is one of Brown's selling points.
"We tried to demonstrate our company as knowledgeable and kind of a value-added company," he said. "We may be the same price as another firm, but we go the extra mile as far as making sure the client is taken care of.
"Somebody once told me that there's so few firms that strive to even be average, that if you can even be an average business, you're head and shoulders ahead of the competition," Brown said.
Brown, who grew up and lives in Barnesville, said he enjoys spending time with his son outdoors.
Of his work and life philosophy, Brown said, taking a little liberty with a quote generally attributed to Confucius, "If you love what you do, then you will never have to work another day in your life."