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Meet Business Development Manager Blake Lange

For the past two-and-half years, Blake Lange has been helping people make the shift to a new way of growing as Business Development Manager – Vertical Farming in Rosemont, IL, USA. He enjoys the challenge of helping our customers build a profitable business. 

An entrepreneur deeply rooted in farming 

 

Blake comes from a long line of farmers who have been growing corn and soybeans for 160 years so he understands the challenges of running a farming business like no other. Building on this upbringing, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Entrepreneurship at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He put what he learned to good use when he began working for Philips Lighting in sales and then project management. But he soon returned to his roots when he joined the Philips Horti team in the US as a Business Development Manager – Vertical Farming. 

A business matchmaker

 

As Blake puts it, he is basically a business matchmaker. He helps make a match between customers who have a vision for creating a vertical farm or city farm as it is called and specialists from Philips Horticulture who can help make their enterprise profitable.  Blake can provide advice about plant growth and technical aspects of LED lighting technology, as well as financing support to these entrepreneurs. Blake is involved in a variety of activities in a given day, ranging from project management and business modeling to planning, implementation and discussions with customers and business partners. 

Ecobain Gardens, Canada

What it takes to succeed


Blake says, “We have a lot of people who are interested in starting a vertical farm, but not everyone has the qualifications to do it. In my experience, customers who have the greatest chance of success are those who have knowledge about growing, have a good team in place to support them and have the financial resources to support the business. We can support them by providing our expertise about LED lighting technology, lighting recipes for specific plants and other installation advice. At Philips GrowWise, we can now define the best growth recipes and optimize the growth environment before the farm is running which helps to reduce the risk exposure from the capital investment.”  
GrowWise Research Center, the Netherlands

The possibilities are endless 


Vertical farming is a hot topic now because it allows growers to produce fresher, tastier, pesticide-free produce, mainly leafy vegetables and herbs, locally within an efficient eco footprint. To do this, Blake works with growers to overcome diverse challenges. One recent customer was having some issues with the quality of their cilantro crop. Philips Horti mimicked the grower’s conditions in their own facilities and found that the plant’s nutritional formula, rather than the lighting, was causing the issue. The grower has changed this and is getting better cilantro. 
Innovatus Inc, Japan
Blake: “We see food processors vertically integrating their business with this type of production because growing indoors does not require traditional or organic pesticides or require the produce to be washed.  This means a much lower bacterial count and therefore a longer shelf life at retailers. With various growth recipes, we can also increase the dry mass to also increase shelf life at retailers. This benefit improves the bottom line for retailers, in their most perishable segment. We are also seeing that it can be interesting for other sectors to cultivate plants in a multi-layer set-up – either in a greenhouse under daylight or in an indoor facility. This can be advantageous for young vegetable plants and for young potted plants in floriculture.”   
Green Sense Farms, USA

Different people, different challenges


What Blake enjoys the most about his job is the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people who are all looking at vertical farming from a different angle. Blake: “I talk to entrepreneurs, retailers, traditional growers and vertical integrators like food processors. Each person has a different level of knowledge and different expectations, and it’s my job to help them find the answers they are looking for.” 
GrowUp Urban Farms, United Kingdom

Farming of the future


Blake believes that vertical farming is definitely the future. Blake: “We are going to see more and more indoor production as time evolves because of the consistency and quality of the produce. We are already seeing that local production has surpassed organic in terms of demand. Consumers are looking to support their local suppliers and vertical farming meets this need.” 

Blake Lange

Business Development Manager

City Farming USA