Our Town

This morning I interviewed the CEO of a Tamworth company, Our Town Biodiesel, for a piece I’m working on a piece for NHPR News. Our Town was started by a 25 year old in his dad’s garage. It turns waste vegetable oil from restaurants into biodiesel and sells it as home heating oil.

It makes me wonder what it takes to succeed. Forrest Letarte graduated from Plymouth State two years ago and works in Boston. He comes home every weekend to run the business. He runs it out of his dad’s garage with his dad Hank’s help. Hank fired up a tractor powered by biodiesel — it smells like barbecue chips and runs 70 percent cleaner than regular diesel.

Forrest and Hank sold 4,500 gallons last year and expect to double that this year. At $3 a gallon it’s a good weekend job; if the price goes up further it could become lucrative.

New Hampshire has such incredible diversity, between the southern, central and northern parts of the state, but I’m still waiting to happen upon this type of entrepreneurial venture in Berlin, but I’ve got hope. There is room for creative thinking up there. Between the low cost of property and the diesel powered industries (i.e. logging) being mostly off-road (you don’t have to pay IRS gas tax for offroad operation like a skidder) someone could be reasonably successful running a similar business. I don’t see anyone getting rich, but in a region looking for this type of investment and the low costs of launching such an operation, it seems it could make someone a living wage.

In Tamworth, Forrest comes home every weekend to make his business thrive while also making an environmental difference. Where are the entrepreneurs returning to Berlin to make a difference, ecologically or economically?

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