Issaquah innovators earn business honor

January 29, 2013

Innovation in Issaquah is exemplified by a leading apparel manufacturer, a revolutionary process to transform garbage into fertilizer and a theater renowned for fostering Broadway-bound musicals.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce and city leaders announced the Innovation in Issaquah honorees — apparel manufacturer SanMar, WISErg, a manufacturer of garbage-to-fertilizer harvesters, and the nonprofit Village Theatre — at a Jan. 24 ceremony and luncheon.

Leaders from the chamber and City Hall recognized the entrepreneurs’ accomplishments through the Innovation in Issaquah contest, a showcase for local businesses offering unique services. Honorees demonstrate innovation in product development, services, systems or strategies.

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Issaquah Chamber of Commerce honors business innovators

January 24, 2013

NEW — 1:40 p.m. Jan. 24, 2013

The most innovative businesses in Issaquah clothe people around the globe, transform garbage into fertilizer, and create productions for local and Broadway audiences.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce and city leaders announced the Innovation in Issaquah honorees — apparel manufacturer SanMar, WISErg, a manufacturer of fertilizer harvesters, and Village Theatre — at a ceremony and luncheon Thursday.

Leaders at the chamber and City Hall recognized the entrepreneurs’ accomplishments through the Innovation in Issaquah contest, a showcase for local businesses offering unique services.

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Issaquah startup transforms trash into treasure at local grocery store

May 15, 2012

City Council President Tola Marts speaks at WISErg’s public unveiling of a food-scrap harvester at PCC Natural Market on May 8. By Autumn Monahan

The castoffs from daily activity in a grocery store — fruit peels from the juice bar, meat trimmings from the deli, discarded vegetable leaves from the produce section — no longer go to the compost heap at the PCC Natural Markets store at Pickering Place.

Instead, employees dump the refuse into a boxy structure tucked near the loading dock. The apparatus, a machine called a harvester, transforms the peels and trimmings into sludge — a building block for organic fertilizer.

Issaquah-based WISErg developed the harvester and built the prototype for the local grocery co-op. The company also uses the sludge to produce fertilizer, a tawny liquid no thicker than water.

Microsoft alumni Larry LeSueur and Jose Lugo founded WISErg in 2009. The startup venture is based across the street from Pickering Place. (The company name is a nod to the erg, a tiny unit of energy.)

“We all know the scraps headed for the Dumpsters are full of nutrients and value,” LeSueur said at a public debut for the harvester May 8. “The last thing we should do is landfill them and create more environmental and community headaches.”

WISErg approached Diana Crane, director of sustainability for Seattle-based PCC, and broached the idea of installing a harvester at a store.

“How exciting it is that the trash produced daily from our juice bar, deli, meat and produce departments that would otherwise be sent to landfills is now being offered in our PCC stores as a high-quality plant food,” Issaquah Store Director Debbi Montgomery said.

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