Written by Jennifer Fitzgerald | Photos by Anthony Harden
Brightfield Transportation Solutions, headed up by Stan Cross and Matthew Johnson, leads the way for electric vehicles with solar driven technology.
Asheville-based Brightfield Transportation Solutions (BTS) started on a hike—actually, multiple hikes—taken by co-founders Stan Cross and Matthew Johnson.
Cross, originally from Connecticut, had moved to Asheville in 2000 and was working at Warren Wilson College directing the environmental leadership center and running sustainability programs. Prior to moving to Asheville, he was a vegetable farmer and wilderness therapist in Northern New Mexico.
Johnson had moved to Asheville in 1999 with his young family. He owned a bicycle shop in Cincinnati that he started when he was 24 and decided to open a second store in Asheville. The store, BioWheels, was successful right out of the gate. Johnson learned how to run a company at age 23, coming right out of college and opening his business, raising his own funds, selling stock, and doing business plans.
Cross and Johnson became friends when they first moved to Western North Carolina through their young daughters, who were friends.
“The bike shop was a great incubator to learn a lot about business,” says Johnson. “In 2010, after Stan and I met, we were both getting a little antsy and wanted to do something that was more meaningful with our energies. Both being outdoor-oriented, we were using some of our hikes to brainstorm.”
“Matt was deep in running a successful bike shop and I was deep in running sustainability programs for Warren Wilson College, which is regarded as one of the top sustainability colleges in the country,” says Cross. “Those hikes were both of us speaking to the excitement about what we were doing. Matt, every day, getting people out of their cars, getting people on bikes, helping people be active and be in the outdoors. And me, helping people try and think about ways to solve climate change through energy and agriculture and waste management. I think, for me on those hikes, it was realizing that I wanted to do something where I was part of the creation from the ground up. I was ready to move away from working in a very creative environment to doing something that was more fully entrepreneurial.”
The full article continues below. Click to open in fullscreen…