Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:23 pm
Melissa Tashjian is passionate about getting people in the habit of composting their food waste. She collects and composts organic waste from area companies, schools and residences via her startup, St. Francis-based Compost Crusader. “Our goal is to try to create a culture around composting. If we’re able to come at it from both angles in communities, it’s a consistent habit within those communities, whether people are going to school, going to work or going home.” Through her efforts, revenue has grown to $300,000, with 100 commercial and 600 residential customers. “I feel like we’ve been almost doubling every year. I want to continue to keep up with that pace.”
April 2014: Tashjian, a founding member of nonprofit Kompost Kids, seeks a more efficient, large-scale way to compost. She establishes Compost Crusader. “We transported directly to a compost site in Caledonia, who would do all the processing, whereas before, we were the processor.”
Early 2015: Compost Crusader gets a $5,000 Kiva loan, purchases an 18-yard garbage truck and invests in new equipment that will fit its rear-loading truck. “That was a big expense to make all of those changes. (But) we were able to examine the content of the material better and the equipment was a lot more affordable for us.”
2016: Compost Crusader adds its second truck. It also launches residential service with 100 Shorewood residents and a one-year pilot program of 500 residents with the City of Milwaukee. Tashjian pays herself for the first time.
Summer 2017: Compost Crusader purchases a building and moves into a permanent office and garage space in St. Francis. It wins its category at the Governor’s Business Plan contest. “We share the space with a steel fabrication company…and they actually make all of our dumpsters and help us maintain our trucks, as well.”
Fall 2017: The company raises a $10,000 Kiva loan and purchases its third truck. The Milwaukee pilot program is extended to November 2018.