Mark Highland Loves Dirt with a Passion @OrganicMechanics


Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Sep 9, 2014

“I started this company back in 2006. And of course, the Genesis was well before that. It was after Graduating from the University of Florida and then the University of Delaware that I started to think, ‘What am I going to do when I grow up?’. I got my Masters at the University of Delaware’s Longwood Program, which is a partnership between UDEL and Longwood Gardens. But I jumped shipped out of public gardens.”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics


“When I was going the school, the textbooks said that compost will never work as a soil amendment because its too variable and it cant be used in production horticulture. I didn’t agree with that!”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics


“In all the major horticultural schools the historical mantra was ‘better living through chemicals’. In the gardening world, I tended to disagree. I am personally an organic gardener, and I think that works better. To be in tune with nature will harvest increased yields and as well as more nutrient dense foods.”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics


“I started this company to provide a more earth friendly and sustainable option for gardeners. No matter what you buy, your voting with your dollars. Offering an organic option that was based in biology, as opposed to the dominant medium of the day, which was peat moss.”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics


“Environmental sustainability is a core value of Organic Mechanics. It guides and shapes everything that we do. We use biodiesel for our equipment, wind power for our electric, we up-cycle or repurpose our pallets that we receive material on for our trade show displays.”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics


“The Genesis of the company grew out of an interest to provide an earth friendly option because there really wasn’t one at the time. Everybody’s heard of Scott’s miracle grow. They have millions of dollars in ad champaign. Im sure everyone here has heard that name because they’ve been doing potting soil for the past 40 years. When we started potting soil was our first and only product. we had a one trick pony; one product and one size.”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics


“Our very first product was a premium blend of potting soil. We had three guys design the bag at the same time, that was a bad idea! Because the primary buyer at garden centers is female, between the ages of 20 and 60. As a startup, you do all your research and you might really think you know what your getting into, but once you get into it and realize, “Wow! There’s a lot of stuff I didn’t know, or even think of’.”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics


“Our big break came from just doing what we all have to do as a startup; keep our eyes open, take chances and jump when the time comes. I was shopping at a Whole Foods.. and I saw a little 8.5 x 11 flyer on a bulletin board that read, ‘Are you a local producer? Would you like to sell to Whole Foods? If so, email this person.’ So I did. I took a shot. One thing led to another and they gave us Philly region stores first, which had seven stores at the time.”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics


“It (the product) did pretty well in the first year. So, they gave us the two southern jersey stores. And we just slowly kept expanding and expanding and expanding and expanding, over the years. Now we’re sold at every Whole Foods in the Mid Atlantic, Mid West, North East and North Atlantic. Most recently we just acquired the Florida Whole Foods stores.”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics


“If you google search, or who ever you use (maybe, DuckDuckGo)’Organic Potting Soil’, generally we’re come up in the top three. And currently, we’re at the top. We trade spots with Home Depot, or with Grow Organic, which from valley farm supply in CA. Its a huge company. But Scotts is no where to be found, which is good for us. We’re no in 350 stores, nationwide.”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics


“We also make Organic Mechanics ourselves in a warehouse facility, in Mogreena (Modeena, PA). Its in an industrial complex with Waste Oil Recyclers out there and a few other companies out there as well. If you’ve ever eaten at Avalon, those beautiful wooden tables are made by the guys at Philly Block & Board… But, we blend and bag, gather all the raw materials, mix the recipes, bag it up, palletize it and ship it out. We use some distributers, but mostly we ship direct. By going direct we cut out the middle-man. Many would say that as of now the distribution model is crashing, not only in our industry but in other industries.”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics


“We sell to the  garden centers, we sell to the  natural food stores, but we have a huge growing contingent of landscape architects, landscape designers  and that field is growing due to Philadelphia. We have doubled-down in Philly (Yay Philly!) All the containers from Broad St, form City Hall to  the Avenue Yards, towards the Stadiums that’s Organic Mechanics. All the way around 30th St Station that’s all Organic Mechanics. We provided the soil for Split Rocker, a huge three-story, a 30ftx30ft installation that has annuals placed in it, and we’ve done soil for tons of other custom projects.”
— Mark Highland, @OrganicMechanics