IMPACT Goshen County Start-Up Challenge winners will make HVAC hemp filters

Dust and allergens can be everywhere and never so prominent as in a tractor’s cab.

While riding in a tractor, Carly Keller, founder of BAST Mfg, became interested in air filters and HVAC systems. 

“So I started during a science fair in high school testing how different types of HVAC systems work and which one works better,” she said. “I continued the project and ended up building my own tractor cab air filter for an FFA science fair.”

Keller received great feedback and information while competing in those science fairs, which led her to look at starting her own business.  

A student at Eastern Wyoming College, she met and knew Clayton Auzqui and Jared Clapper, and like her, both have agricultural backgrounds. The two young men became co-founders of the business bringing the business side to her idea of starting a business. 

“Jared and I came into this as it was forming into an actual product we could market,” Auzqui said.

Auzqui and Clapper began looking into different entrepreneurship competitions, which supplied seed funding for start-up businesses. Graduates of the University of Wyoming, Clapper, and Auzqui worked on figuring out the supply chain and sourcing whatever they could find locally.

Keller found the IMPACT Goshen County Start-Up Challenge, which was hosting its first challenge beginning on Aug. 15, 2022. The challenge is supported by the University of Wyoming’s IMPACT 307.

The trio had switched from cab filters to HVAC filters but will add cab filters later. BAST was sourcing the raw material for their filters locally, which included hemp.

“So we definitely wanted to focus on sustainability as well as value added for our filters,” Keller said.

The business owners want to bring success to their business and other businesses starting up. Unfortunately, hemp, while legal to grow in Wyoming and other states, is not finding an outlet for the whole plant.  

“Right now, the fibers are not being used a ton, and so that was something that we were looking into as well,” she said. 

Another aspect of hemp is its antimicrobial properties, allowing BAST Mfg to create antibacterial and antimicrobial filters without adding extra steps, unlike typical filter companies.   

“We’re aiming for the goal of creating a product that will promote better health and be a sustainable air filtration solution,” said Auzqui. 

The IMPACT Goshen County Start-Up Challenge held its awards night in November, where BAST Mfg took home first place, and the Audience Choice Award, sponsored by First State Bank of Torrington, Wyo. 

IMPACT Goshen is an expansion of IMPACT 307’s Incubator Program, a direct result of the $2.4 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant to the University of Wyoming from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

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