Alumnus makes aquaculture a way of life
Most Maine Business School (MBS) students want to make some green after college, but few take it as literally as Todd Jagoutz ’01.
Jagoutz’s Biddeford-based company, Sea Greens Farms, is on the forefront of aquaculture processing, research and development, and distribution. And like the seeded lines of his kelp farm off Maine’s southern coast, Jagoutz’s love of the water runs deep.
Growing up in Duxbury, Massachusetts, a coastal town between Boston and Cape Cod, Jagoutz spent a lot of time on the water.
“I was always fishing and exploring in Duxbury and Plymouth Bays,” he says. “I was ocean-oriented.”
Yet among his coastal excursions, Jagoutz made time for another passion: football. His success on the field in high school led to official visits with college teams, and, eventually, UMaine made the cut.
“Once I stepped on campus and met the players, I knew it was the place for me,” says Jagoutz. “I had a lot in common with the guys in Orono, and it was a great fit socially.”
In his four seasons as the Black Bear’s kicker and punter, Jagoutz also discovered that business was a great fit.
“I was never a bad student (in high school), but I definitely did not prioritize academics,” he says. “The deeper I got into the business school, the more interested I became in learning. Organically, academics became a priority and passion, which I credit to the MBS professors.”
After setting a few football scoring records, Jagoutz graduated from UMaine in 2001 and spent a quick stint at Enterprise Rent-a-Car, where he quickly realized his love of sales. But after nearly two decades as a salesman, he was ready for a change.
“I wanted to do something that would help the environment and create a legacy,” says Jagoutz. “Aquaculture had always interested me, and not long into my search, seaweed farming hit my radar.”
His plan was to start a small seaweed farm for education and research, and as a way to get back on the water, but he quickly encountered a roadblock.
“There wasn’t any infrastructure to process or sell (seaweed) because the industry was so new,” says Jagoutz.
So, in 2016, he and three business partners founded Sea Greens Farms (SGF) at the Pepperell Mill in Biddeford. SGF is a purchaser, processor and distributor of farmed seaweed.
“We buy seaweed from a network of independent ocean farmers and turn it into a product that ultimately ends up in food you eat, like snack bars and soups,” says Jagoutz.
The company also operates the highest capacity, most technologically advanced seaweed hatchery on the East Coast.
“Seaweed farmers have to ‘plant’ their crop, so they take a seed string and wind it on a larger, anchored line,” explains Jagoutz. The seed strings they use are created at hatcheries like the one at Sea Greens Farms.
The industry is still new, arguably just now moving beyond boutique, and Jagoutz knows Sea Greens Farms is still considered a startup.
“We’re looking to diversify our product line, grow our sales force, and expand the hatchery,” he says.
Amid the success, Todd understands Sea Greens Farms does not exist in a bubble, but rather functions as a part of Maine’s diverse business landscape.
“Where we operate in the marine economy, there’s an issue where third- and fourth-generation fishermen are being forced off the water because of overfishing and warming oceans due to climate change,” Jagoutz says. “Our goal is to help build the blue-green economy and give these generational fishermen a way to stay on the water and provide for their families. We want to show that seaweed farming is a viable, long-term product for Maine.”