Greybull River Produce flourishing in new business park

By Nathan Oster

One of the first businesses to establish roots in the Greybull Business Park is planning to expand its operation.

Greybull Valley Produce owner Dwight Koehn approached the council recently, expressing interest in the three smaller lots adjacent to the 3 acres he already owns and directly behind the Scott Good residence on Greybull River Road.

The terms of the sale were approved on Monday night, with the Greybull Town Council agreeing to sell lots 5, 6 and 7 — 4.86 acres in total — for $14,580 pursuant to the same economic development statute that the town has used to sell other lots in the park.  The appraised value of the three lots is $29,706.60. 

Greybull Valley Produce is one of the business park’s greatest success stories.  The family-run business markets hydroponic lettuce and herbs, which it grows from seeds, markets and delivers across northern Wyoming and Montana.

For the town to sell the land for less than its appraised value, Koehn had to establish some form of economic development benefit to the town.

Greybull Valley Produce already owns a 140x30 greenhouse on a 3-acre lot in the business park.  Koehn said he has ordered a second greenhouse, measuring 96x132, that will be placed on the three acres he purchases.  By mid-summer, he anticipates the second greenhouse being fully operational.

Koehn said he plans to hire one full-time employee, plus additional part-time employees as part of the expansion.  He believes the business’s revenue will triple or possibly even quadruple once the new greenhouse is online.

Koehn wasn’t the original purchaser of the lot.  He acquired it two or three months after the purchase was finalized, inheriting no crop and “very little” for a customer base.  He described it like starting from scratch.

For the first 2 ½ years to three  years, he tried to get his lettuce in every kitchen and grocery store in the Big Horn Basin.

“Last March and April when the quarantine hit, we lost 90 percent of our business overnight,” he said, noting that at the time, most of their produce was going to school districts and restaurants in the area.  When that market collapsed, the business shifted its focus to grocery stores.

“We started going to Red Lodge, Laurel and Billings and were able to greatly increase our customer base,” he said. “Now the restaurants are all back open, the schools not so much yet because they haven’t opened their salad bars like they did before, so I still don’t have all of them back on board.”

Koehn said it’s simply a case of the business outgrowing its presence in the business park.

As with the other deals, it will include a reversionary clause in the warranty deed to ensure development of the property in a timely fashion.  Koehn said that with the greenhouse going in this summer, he won’t need the full two years to get it done.