Major in agricultural business
Current employment: Entrepreneur
Garrett Ley began G Pop's Popcorn in May 2014. He has a 20 credit course load, and runs his business out of Alleman, Iowa.
As he looks to expand his business, Ley has also had to refigure his priorities. He intends to graduate a year early and dedicate himself more fully to G Pop’s.
Because of the advancement of his timetable, he’s not only increased his workload with the business but also with his courses. “I have a really heavy course load now on top of this business,” Garrett Ley said. “While I’m here, I want to get it done.”
Garrett also stays close with his family; in fact, he cites them as a major source of support and physical aid. While big orders often require his parents and brother to pitch in to complete, Garrett said his biggest fan and supporter is his grandfather. “He’s kind of instilled those values of hard work and dedication [in me],” Garrett said.
A former county extension director, Garrett's grandfather grew up on a farm and helped teach him about hard work through his garden. This relationship is largely what led Garrett Ley into agriculture, despite his father’s work as an engineer and his mother’s as a nurse. Living only five miles away, Garrett's grandfather provided ample opportunity for him to become exposed to and interested in agriculture and entrepreneurship. He also encouraged Garrett to help neighbors on their farms and to learn more about working on one.
On-campus, Garret said his biggest resource is the Agricultural Entrepreneur Group, a club of 12 to 15 students who are interested in establishing their own businesses. He also works at an agrotourism farm. This farm, which offers seasonal events such as a pumpkin patch, provided a location for G Pop’s after it outgrew Garrett's family house.
“Whoever knew the milkhouse on a dairy farm would be a popcorn production facility 30 years later,” Ley said. “You’ve got to start somewhere.”
While he is only legally permitted to manufacture his popcorn in the revamped barn, Ley is perfectly happy with that. He said he is more interested in manufacturing and selling to retailers than in selling directly to customers.
“I want to see what I can do,” Ley said. “The way I think of it is, 'Is it bad going from broke to broke? So what if this doesn’t work out? What do I have to lose?'”
Story by Ellie Conrad, Iowa State Daily
Ley graduated with a B.S. in agricultural business in 2016. He works as a guest services specialist at Growing Family Fun, Bondurant, Iowa.