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US (MI): Former Founders chairman pursues ‘future of farming' with hydroponic lettuce company

What's one to do after selling a highly successful brewery to a Spanish company? Grow lettuce.

That was the answer for John Green, the former executive chairman of Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co., the largest brewery in Michigan.

The Mahou-San Miguel Group, a multinational Spanish beer company, bought a 30 percent stake in Founders in 2014, then last August announced it was upping that to 90 percent. The deal closed in January. Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers, who co-founded Founders in 1997, each retain a 5 percent stake, while Green sold the rest of his stock.

Meanwhile, in 2017, Green, who was still with Founders, and two other successful Grand Rapids entrepreneurs, Chip George and Brian Steketee, co-founded Revolution Farms LLC, which hydroponically grows a variety of organic, non-GMO lettuces in a 1-acre greenhouse on farmland in Caledonia, a few miles southeast of Grand Rapids.

Green had been chairman and interim CEO at Revolution Farms but became permanent CEO of Revolution Farms last September. He stepped down as Founders' executive chairman after selling his stock in January.

They say their main reason was basic: They love lettuce and greens, and so often the greens they bought in clam-shell packages, having spent days getting to Michigan from where they were grown, started going bad before they were half gone. Second, they thought they could capitalize on the movement toward locally sourced, organic, lower-carbon-footprint food.

Read more at Crain's Detroit Business (Tom Henderson)


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