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News / Business / Clark County Business

Working in Clark County: John Dewitz, erosion control contractor

By Kay Richardson, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 19, 2018, 6:00am
4 Photos
John Dewitz, owner of Above & Beyond Hydroseed, sprays a stockpile of dirt to protect it from erosion at a Lennar Homes site in Felida’s Herzog Farm.
John Dewitz, owner of Above & Beyond Hydroseed, sprays a stockpile of dirt to protect it from erosion at a Lennar Homes site in Felida’s Herzog Farm. Amanda Cowan/The Columbian Photo Gallery

John Dewitz, president and owner of Above & Beyond Hydroseed, and his crew of 10 employees spread 50 tons of certified weed-free straw among home building developments and residential properties — every month. Imagine 1,538 bales of straw placed end-to-end. That’s the length of just over 15 football fields. Per month. The straw acts as a filter and keeps streams and ditches in local communities clear of sediment and stormwater runoff. Its application —by hand—  is hard, physical work. Along with hydroseeding services — applying a mix of water, wood fiber mulch, fertilizer and seed to soil — Dewitz says the work of his team makes a huge impact environmentally.

Name: John Dewitz.

Residence neighborhood: Mount Vista.

Business name: Above & Beyond Hydroseed Inc.

Home business office: 360-727-3345. www.abhydroseed.com

Age: 49.

Educational/professional background: I grew up in Clark County and graduated from Prairie High School.

How — and when — you got started in your business: I first started in my 20s cutting lumber for a home builder. I knew how to read blueprints and prefab walls. I was running a prefab yard, and worked into a superintendent job, just working my way up the ladder.

I was a general manager for a home builder when erosion control measures were starting to become mandated. I had to hire someone specifically to do erosion control, and that person was not always available. It was becoming more of an issue in that federal, state, and local regulations were increasing. I realized there could be a place in the market to provide the service for builders, since they didn’t have time to do it themselves. I figured out that I could stay busy in the summer by doing hydroseeding, which is also a form of erosion control. I knew a bit about it — but not much. So I read into it a bit on my own, looking at the internet, taking some classes and getting out in the field and doing it. No one else was doing it when I started.

It’s really hard work, but I like hard work and being outside.

Personal/business philosophy: I believe in doing quality work — not cutting corners. It’s more important the customer is happy and the job is done right.

Most rewarding part of job: Being able to work outdoors (not stuck in an office); happy customers, happy employees, and seeing a job well-done.

Most challenging part of job: When erosion control season meets hydroseed season. We get so busy and when people call at the end of hydroseed season, it’s very challenging to fit them in.

Something surprising about your work: We use more than 50 tons of straw per month consistently throughout the year. Sometimes it’s difficult to find — that is challenging!

Best feature of the Clark County community: It has a small, family-like feel; It’s close to everything — lots of outdoor activities … mountains, rivers, ability for fitness activities.

What would make your community a better place: Less traffic! We work on both sides of the river, and traffic is very challenging.

Favorite travel destination and type: Anywhere sunny during the winter.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Mexican Villa!

Hobbies: Running, cycling, triathlons, fishing, archery, tinkering around in my shop.

Most enjoyable book in the past 12 months: “Finish Strong” by Dan Russell.

On your playlist: Anything country.

Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: I’d like to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon again, only this time, it’d be nice if it wasn’t pouring rain.

One word to describe yourself: Committed.

Person you’d most like to meet: Bowhunting athlete Cameron Hanes.

Columbian staff writer