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Repellent maker Carpe Insectae gets $13K state grant

December 22, 2017
By GLYNIS HART - For the News (ghart@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - Local business Carpe Insectae, which manufactures all-natural insect repellent, has been awarded a grant by the New York State Regional Economic Development Corporation to buy new machinery.

"The state of New York is really bending over backward to bring business back to upstate," said Randy Cross, owner of Carpe Insectae. The wholesale business is located behind Nori's Village Market on Church Street. Currently, Carpe Insectae is packing orders to ship out on March 1, filling pallets with stacks of labeled boxes containing bug repellent products.

While other local recipients of REDC grants, such as Bionique laboratories and Chicota Inc., are slated to receive much greater amounts, Cross said his needs are modest.

Article Photos

Randy Cross, owner of Carpe Insectae LLC, in front of a shipment labeled for Canada.
(News photo — Glynis Hart)

"I just need a piece of equipment," said Cross.

The $13,000 will be reimbursed to Cross after he buys a labeling machine.

"You can only ask for 20 percent," he said. "And you've got to have the money first and spend it before they give it to you."

Right now, Cross and his four employees label everything by hand.

"We're not paying crazy wages, but we're paying steady wages," said Cross. In the future, he'd like to see the four part-time jobs become full-time.

"The growth is manageable but really steady and amazing. Four years ago, we were in 48 stores. This year we're in 600, and next year that's slated to double," said Cross.

He's the first person to tell you, he's not a business guy. Cross first moved to Saranac Lake 15 years ago, when he became the pastor of the Adirondack Alliance Church. He didn't know a lot of people in town, and he wanted to get involved, so he volunteered to help with the Carousel project. There he met Marge and Ted Glowa, two volunteers who had a side business named Bye Bye Black Fly.

"It was a side hobby almost. I wanted to do what they were doing," said Cross. "Keep busy, make a little money, so I could go do construction projects that I wanted to do."

Bye Bye Black Fly introduced him to the all-natural insect repellents. He then spent two years researching products.

"I'm a pastor, so I don't want to be associated with anything that doesn't work. Because then I'd be lying," said Cross. What he found through his research is that safe, effective repellents have been around "since the Egyptians."

"You can't patent the basic formula," he said. "It's been around 6,000 years."

Carpe Insectae uses a variety of natural oils in its products, including rosemary, L-Limonene and cedarwood oils. The EPA provides fact sheets on L-Limonene and cedarwood, stating: "EPA believes it is unnecessary to regulate these products because they pose little or no risk to human health or the environment."

"I have personally sprayed every single one of our products in my mouth," Cross said. "I wanted to make sure we don't hurt anybody."

When Ted Glowa passed away, Marge took a year off from the business. She wanted time to think, she told him.

After Marge's hiatus, she suggested that they go into business together: Cross could do liquid products, BBBF would keep the solid products, and they could market the products together.

Since then, the growth of the company has amazed Cross.

"It's a God thing," he said. "It's the only way to explain it. Is it because I'm a business expert? Obviously not. Is it because marketing all-natural products is easy? Not that either. How we could go from being in 48 stores four years ago, and next year we'll be in 1,200... the only explanation is that. It's a God thing."

He's grateful for the boost from New York state, too. Carpe Insectae was awarded the grant because it assists the state in several key goals: The business is in a depressed region, it's creating manufacturing jobs, it's bringing money into low-income areas, and it's exporting products. Fifty percent of the shipment is going to Canada, and Cross is eyeing possible exports to Mexico through a partnership with Pet Co.

"Don't think for a moment that the state doesn't check you," he said. "This is taxpayer money and you have to follow all the rules and regulations before they give you a dime."

 
 

 

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