Submitted to the WPR
During a recent presentation to the Colusa Rotary Club, John Ashbaugh, CEO and managing partner of Premier Mushrooms L.P. in Colusa announced the company’s recent recognition on the Inc. 500|5000 list.
Ashbaugh shared that the local mushroom farm is now ranked as the 25th fastest growing business in the nation in the food and beverage category by the prestigious Inc. 500|5000 list. This annual list profiles the top 500 and 5,000 fastest growing private companies based in the United States.
“We were named number 803 out of 5, 000,” said Ashbaugh noting that the company has seen a 389% growth in the past three years.
Premier Mushrooms purchased the company in 2006 and achieved $3.1 million annual revenue from sales by 2007. The sales revenue in 2010 was $15.1 million. The starting employee base of 60 employees in 2006 now numbers nearly 170 employees.
Ashbaugh said that the company continues to grow, and that it is on the verge of yet another expansion which will take them to 64 growing rooms producing 280,000 pounds of mushrooms a week at the Colusa farm and adding another 45 to 50 employees. The farm currently produces 210,000 pounds of mushrooms a week and brings about $1million to the county monthly in services purchased and in employee wages.
“I am so proud of our team,” said Ashbaugh. “We have world class composting, growing an sales managers,” he said.
“We faced some tough issues when we purchased the farm in 2006,” he said. But, he added that it was the support of individuals such as the County Supervisors, and especially Supervisor Tom Indrieri that kept things moving forward. “We also owe a lot to Ed Hulbert at Colusa Industrial properties, for his continued support and guidance,” said Ashbaugh.
It has been a goal of the farm to meet the needs of the community and address the issues of odor. Ashbaugh said it was not an easy battle, but one that he believes the farm has continued to improve on and win.
“Early on, we wanted to give back to the community,” said Ashbaugh. One of the things the business first did was to contribute $50,000 to the Colusa High School Sports Stadium for a snack shack.
Ashbaugh commented that since that time, the momentum of giving slacked off a little, but in the spring of 2010 the company increased its efforts of giving back once again.
Since that time, Premier Mushrooms has sponsored a number of events including the Country Music Showdown, education booths during Western Days, the Demonstration Stage at the Colusa County Fair, and donated enumerable raffle donations to area non-profit events.
Also in 2010, the mushroom farm hosted a job fair for Colusa High School students. Fifty students toured the farm and applied for summer jobs. From the fifty, fifteen were selected for interviews and six were hired. This is a program; Ashbaugh said he hopes to continue.
Additionally, the farm has sponsored two concerts for the Colusa Concert in the Park series, as well as provided mushrooms for sale at the Colusa Farmer’s Market. Proceeds from the mushroom sales will benefit non-profit groups to be named later this fall.
The Premier Mushroom L.P. farm grows, packages and ships it product from the Colusa site. The brand can be found locally at the Save More Market as well as at Raley’s and Bel Air Markets, and at Trader Joe’s under its private label.
The mushrooms are also distributed through food services such as Sysco. ■