The energetic, young entrepreneur whose company is changing the landscape of an industry as old as time.
To anyone who’s ever crossed paths with Brandi Hyder, it came as no surprise that when she founded Montana Agriculture and Mining, LLC, it shot right out of the gate on a meteoric rise. She’s a natural born “fixer” with an uncanny ability to see the parts that make the whole through the lens of an entrepreneur—and develop solutions where others find none. She is an imaginative innovator with an analytic mind and a mindful leader driven by the desire to help both business and community thrive. She’s an accomplished hotelier who across her 17-year career operated the third largest hotel on South Beach, Miami, managing a multi-million-dollar operation and a $250 million renovation, opened the Conde Nast Traveler, the world-recognized Hotel Andra in the heart of Downtown Seattle, and The Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, Washington. Now, as the co-founder of a thriving global agricultural and mining company that has garnered international and local recognition—in less than 12 months—Brandi brings it all together to support the needs of farmers, producers, and manufacturers within the agriculture and mining industries—at just 39 years old. This is the story of an energetic, young entrepreneur whose company is changing the landscape of an industry as old as time.
Founded in July 2020 in Livingston, Montana Agriculture and Mining operates globally with a logistics team dedicated to seamless transportation and landing of equipment and commodities, working with partners to ensure sustainability in their products, ethics in their work habits, and the equipment necessary to support agriculture and mining. In an industry where new companies take years to develop or wither on the vine, the reputation of Brandi well preceded her, and clients approached her en masse as soon as the company opened their doors. Barely a year on the map, and already Montana Agriculture and Mining supports new mining projects throughout the state, serves as new vendors with the Black Butte Project, and actively supports two mines in Zimbabwe, with a third pending. As if that isn’t awe-inspiring enough, they’ve quickly achieved large contracts in food distribution through their subsidiary, Montana Foods, with global partner, Lacryma Verde.
Settled permanently in Montana, where agriculture and mining are integral parts of the very fabric of the Treasure State, Brandi’s passion for taking things apart and rebuilding them into something better took her across the country as a hotel operations executive for luxury and boutique resorts—and back home again. From the MRK Hotel Collection on the East Coast to the Luskin Conference Center at UCLA and beyond, from massive renovations to ground up construction, Brandi disassembled operations and rebuilt them to achieve new levels of profitability. Then, in 2019, a role as director of operations with Columbia Hospitality in Montana called her home. Perhaps it was the hand of destiny. Perhaps it was happenstance. Whatever the serendipitous catalyst, it would set in motion the convergence of Brandi’s innate talent as a “fixer” and the deep-rooted essence of agriculture that she was born with—materializing in a vibrant company that prides itself on the Montanan spirit of hands-on, personal transactions with their partners, all while being mindful stewards of local economies. We had the privilege to sit down with Brandi to learn more about her and how Montana Agriculture and Mining’s commitment to the practice of sustainability is playing a critical role in helping both companies and communities to flourish.
Tell us a bit more about Montana Agriculture and Mining.
We believe strongly in supporting the needs of farmers, producers, and manufacturers within the agriculture and mining industries, and we’re passionate about our platform of helping to create community-based, self-sufficient business cooperatives. We offer years of knowledge and practical expertise in the fields of agriculture and mining equipment support, and food distribution, and these are the values that drive both Montana Agriculture and Mining and Montana Foods.
Montana Agriculture and Mining is a very progressive, innovative company that consist of a group of proud Montanans who work in collaboration with our global team partners in Southern Africa and Europe to provide mindful solutions. We’re a smaller company committed to supplying our partners with an alternative to the “big business” by purchasing safe, and sustainable equipment. We intentionally keep our team small to ensure personal attention is given to our clients, and it helps us keep our costs down, which allows us to offer our mining equipment at a lower rate. This also allows us to supply dedicated ground team members to our global partners that are equally invested in global communities in which we do business, and as part of this, we support hiring locally.
What services and products do you offer your mining clients?
We provide both equipment and talent. On the equipment side, we provide mining companies with underground support services and the nuts and bolts to allow them to mine both economically and safely while protecting the environment and their workforce. Forty-five percent of injuries and fatalities are caused by inferior equipment and support structures. We ensure that our mining projects are done with processes and products that guard against mine collapses by supplying world-class safety with underground support ancillary equipment—roof bolts, giwi bars, fully threaded bars, resin bolts, grouting bolts, mechanical anchor bolts, split sets, cable bolts anchored by resin, Z props. This is a very important distinction for us because it’s not universal in the mining industry.
Your commitment to sustainability, the environment, and communities underlies every service and product that you provide. How does this also benefit your clients’ businesses?
That’s a great question. Mining is inherently dangerous and harmful to the environment, but there are ways to mine where you’re protecting your revenue while protecting your employees and the environment. Many mining operations are using technology and equipment that is over 40 years old. We provide the most updated equipment and precious metals that other companies need overseas to complete their projects but they don’t have access to. Even if we must take a loss to purchase a safer way of completing a mining project, we’ll do that.
How does hiring locally for your clients have a direct, positive impact on your clients’ mining operations?
The challenge with any mining company is that they face tremendous opposition from the community, who fear the impact on the environment and their economy, and that they’ll bring in a global team of workers who don’t support the local community. That’s not us. There is a great talent pool in Montana. We have the means and partners to source globally, but we are committed to hiring locally to support the mining operations here. By doing this, the workers—and our clients—become part of the fabric of the town not only in terms of economic contribution, but in terms of becoming part of the community and supporting it in every way. For locals who have no experience in mining, we train and license them so that they can be hired by the mines. This benefits our clients and the community, as they co-exist in harmony.
Our relationship with the Black Butte Project is a perfect example of the extraordinary benefits to a company. In the eighties, Montana experienced a couple of mines that killed the environment, and we’ve learned from that. Black Butte is a new copper mine that’s going into Central Montana, and from a political standpoint, we knew that this mine would be put through the ringer. They needed people like us.
Now tell us about Montana Foods.
As a former hotelier, Montana Foods was a natural transition because I had spent so many years in contract procurement, hiring, and managing logistics teams. As a food distributor, we focus on sustainable, organic, and niche products. We’re enhancing the retail market by supplying the best, premium organic foods from our European partner, Lacryma Verde, in Italy, and we’re expanding that market now with our partners in South Africa. Lacryma was our first partner, who reached out to us to launch their olive oil into the U.S. and Canada. We joined forces with the sole distribution rights for it, and Montana Foods took off from there. The product is available on RangeMe, a platform where grocery chains find new products, and we expect to be in major stores in North America in a few months.
Let’s end with a somewhat personal question. To what do you attribute your success as the leader of two thriving firms at such a young age?
First, my work ethic that my parents taught me. Secondly, I didn’t find success on my own. I have been incredibly privileged to have mentors along the way who taught me how to be a great, mindful leader and take a project and put a proprietor’s perspective on it. If not for them, I would be in a very different place, I’m sure.
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer — Montana Agriculture and Mining, LLC
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