Farewell From Sylvia

Alan, Sylvia, Tawnya and JD celebrating the transition

By: Tawnya Sawyer

“Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.”

– Bikram Choudhury

At noon on October 9, 2015, we transferred ownership of The Aquaponic Source to JD and Tawnya Sawyer of Colorado Aquaponics and Avolve, Inc.  While Alan and I will be around for a few weeks to do some training and also to help manage the details of the business sale, that event marked the end of my professional involvement in the aquaponics industry and the beginning of the next phase of my life.

Alan, Sylvia, Tawnya and JD celebrating the transition
Alan, Sylvia, Tawnya and JD celebrating the transition

First and foremost, I am so grateful that we have found buyers who we know, like, and respect.  Our intent when building this business over the past six years has always been to build something we could be proud of, that would have a positive impact on the rapidly-growing aquaponics industry, and that would provide meaningful work for our employees.  We feel that we have accomplished what we set out to do, and are now handing the reins over to smart people who share our vision.  They plan to continue to run The Aquaponic Source as it has been run by us, but with their expertise in the commercial farming business, they will expand its focus to include larger installations as well as more consulting and design services.

I am also eternally grateful to my husband, Alan.  While he thought aquaponics was an important, globally-impactful growing method for many heartfelt reasons, he was never truly passionate about it.  What sustained him through all the years of hard work building this business was his commitment to helping his wife achieve her goals.  That is a gift of love so enormous that it can never really be repaid – only forever appreciated.

We have also been truly blessed by wonderful, committed, passionate employees, both current and past.  To a person, they joined our little company not because of a great salary and benefits, but because they wanted to be a part of the birth of the aquaponics movement.  They are a hard-working, eclectic, energetic team without which The Aquaponic Source never would have become what it is today.

Finally, I am so grateful for you, our loyal readers, followers, customers, students, fans and friends.  Your steadfast support has meant the world to me. Nearly every day I receive an email, phone call, or meet someone in our retail center who appreciates what we offer, and how we have introduced them to the world of aquaponic gardening.  A professional review of our business through the lens of longevity (six years in business so far), revenue (achieving over a million dollars in annual revenue), profitability (every year since we began) or transition (being sold) would identify us as a “successful” startup. However, the best, and only true measure of success in my book is the positive impact a business has on peoples’ lives.  Thank you for letting us be a part of yours.

So what is next for me? After nearly thirteen years of either being part of the founding team of a new company, or now being the actual founder of a company, I feel the need to just “chill-lax” through the rest of 2015, and recharge my batteries.  Starting in early 2016, however, I am excited to begin the next phase of my life.  Looking back, I can clearly see defined themes in my past – the Early Career phase, the Stay at Home Mom phase, and now the Entrepreneur phase.  I believe the next phase will be my time to Volunteer and Give Back.  I plan to become involved in my local community.  I’d like to become a certified Master Gardener and volunteer through that program.  I feel strongly about gun control and the Right to Die movement and might become active in state level policy around those issues.  But the topic that is really pulling at my heart-strings is diet and nutrition, especially at the lowest income levels. I believe strongly in the connection between health, and a plant-based diet, cooked at home.  The problem is too many people don’t believe they have the time, money or know-how to make that happen on a daily basis for their families so they turn to processed or fast-food diets. I’d like to teach those who want to learn, or who need to make a drastic change in their diet, or the diet of their loved ones, how to grow their own food, grocery shop on a budget, and prepare food at home. To that end, I plan to go through professional chef training, then work through a Share Our Strength organization called Cooking Matters to bring food budgeting, healthy menu planning and cooking skills to those who need it most.

Yours in fish, food, and friendship.