Scottville mushroom plant purchased, 45 jobs created with more to come.

March 17, 2015
David Law, president and CEO of Gourmet Mushrooms

David Law, president and CEO of Gourmet Mushrooms

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By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — Scottville’s mushroom plant has a new owner, and new jobs are being creating n the community. Last week, Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. of Sebastopol, California officially purchased the former site of Diverse Natural Products on the east side of Scottville.

The company, which sells under the brand name Mycopia Gourmet Mushrooms, is now second largest employer in the city limits, second to Mason County Central Schools. It currently employs 45 people full time with plans to increase full time employment to 80 by this summer.

Gary Wells, general manager

Gary Wells, general manager

The purchase is the result of a process that started in 2007.

“Back in 2007 I learned about DNP starting a mushroom farm,” David Law, president and CEO, said. “I found them to be a formidable competitor.” He then came across DNP’s owners at an expo in Anaheim, California. “We exchanged business cards, the life went on.”

He was then contacted by Gary Mills of DNP who asked if David was interested in becoming a strategic partner. 

Though David was interested, the stock market crash of 2008 put a damper on expansion plans for awhile. Then, as the economy started to improve, he and Mills started having conversations about a joint venture.

“We maintained the Scottville site with a skeleton crew that could be ready to go on the turn of a dime,” David said. “This facility is very conducive to what we can do.” Mills is now the plant’s general manager.

  David Law is passionate about mushrooms.

The final product

The final product

He was born and raised in Hong Kong and moved to the United States in 1969 to attend college. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Oregon in 1973 and then received a master’s in business administration majoring in finance and also a master’s degree in real estate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He said he is fascinated by science. His initial college plans were to get into medicine. But, he changed those plans to business.

During his last year of graduate studies, he met Malcolm Clark and they founded Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc.

In developing and cultivating many specialty fungal species for the culinary and health food trades, the company became a pioneer in promoting fungi for good health.

gourmet_mushrooms_012David said Malcolm was more of the hands on partner for several years until he retired in 2007. Malcolm’s interests were more on the culinary side while David took an interest in the medicinal benefits of mushrooms.

Anticipating the trend toward the integration of modern and folk medicine, David intensified the company’s focus on the development of organic nutraceutical products. 

He said the mushroom market has a lot of potential.

DNP was started in the early 2000s when the company purchased the former Stokely-Van Camp plant, Scottville’s largest industry for decades. The plant had stopped production in the late 1990s.

DNP’s speciality mushroom was the morel, a popular commodity in the woods of northern Michigan. However, contamination in the product caused the plant to shut down after only a few years of operation.

The Scottville plant, which has two facilities that total about 215,000 square feet, has revised its morel production, currently growing 8,000 pounds of Maitake mushroom, or Hen of the Woods, a week with plans to increase production of 5 other varieties of speciality mushrooms by this summer to an additional 20,000 pounds a week.

The plant also produces 8,000 pounds of Maitake mushrooms a week. Gourmet Mushroom’s California farm produces about 20,000 pounds of 7 varieties of specialty mushrooms per week.

The mushrooms are sold mostly to restaurants through fine food purveyors and health food, or nutraceutical industry, however, the company does distribute to Whole Foods throughout the country as well. David said it may sell some of its mushrooms locally in the future.

David Law shows some of the varieties grown in Scottville and at the California plant.

David Law shows some of the varieties grown in Scottville and at the California plant.

David said starting a plant in Michigan and Mason County has been a positive experience. The property was behind in its taxes by several thousands of dollars. He said he worked very well with the Mason County treasurer’s office to resolve the issue.

He said he has found the employees at the plant to have a great work ethic.

“We all spend a third of our lives at work,” he said. “The people here are not just employees, they are my partners.”

“We are very excited about the plant restarting and the number of jobs it is providing in the City of Scottville,” City Manager Amy Williams said. “Gourmet Mushrooms is bringing back industry into Scottville, something we have longed for as a community.”

How to cook a mushroom: David Law knows a thing or two about mushrooms. He said the most basic recipe for cooking a mushroom is to heat the pan to a very high temperature then use olive oil or peanut oil. Put the naked mushroom in the pan and let it brown for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn it over and add garlic, salt and pepper. After about 2 to 3 minutes add butter. “The secret is high heat,” he said.