Heritage graduate and veteran Bart Lomont chats ABC’s ‘Shark Tank,’ Mark Cuban, Mike Pence and the Robin Autopilot lawnmower
It isn’t everyone who gets well wishes from Vice President Mike Pence. Fellow Hoosier native Bart Lomont, though, took a call from the nation’s second in command this week to chat about Lomont’s upcoming appearance on “Shark Tank.”
Lomont, a 2001 Heritage High School graduate who worked in 2012 as the personal aide to then-Congressman Pence on his campaign for governor, and his business partner appear before the titans of industry on an episode of “Shark Tank,” which is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Sunday on ABC affiliate, WPTA, Channel 21.
In a clip of the episode, Lomont and Crandall ask for $500,000 for 5 percent of the company, Robin Autopilot. Lomont, 34, met Crandall, who has an MBA from Harvard, in Dallas where Lomont had settled in 2013 after meeting his then-fiancee, now wife, Natalie, who worked for former President Bush.
Lomont’s family name may be familiar to local country music fans. His parents, Mick and Jane Lomont, hosted Luke Bryan’s Farm Tour concert at their M & J Farms in 2015.
Bart Lomont thought he was destined for a career on the farm. After high school he attended Purdue, where he was studying agriculture economics. However, he soon left to join the 122nd Indiana Air National Guard after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I was more just confused,” he said. “I wanted to do something.”
He served as a refueler for the 122nd, and later a logistics readiness officer, and serving in Afghanistan 2010-11. While serving his one weekend a month with the Air Guard he returned to his classes at Purdue.
He was seeking an autograph from his former commander-in-chief and began a correspondence with Natalie. They now have two sons, Mick, 21/2, and Noah, 1.
He and Crandall created the lawn care business in March 2015 and went to the all-robotic service in March 2017. They’ve gotten angel investors for a total of $2.5 million, and now are looking to franchise the business, which currently has nine employees, including Colin Miller, a 2014 graduate of Leo High School. Miller is the company’s master installer. Each of its 200 customers in the Dallas and Austin area has a small wire put into their property, which Lomont likens to an invisible dog fence. The battery-operated robot, similar to a “Roomba, but for your lawn,” will operate within those perimeters and can mow at night because it’s quiet, he said.
“The robot lives at the home,” Lomont said. Customers have even named theirs like pets and dressed them for the holidays. Three of the robots were stolen within the first two weeks, so the company pulled them all back and now have GPS in them. The company is alerted if the robot leaves the customer’s property and the devices won’t work without the wire.
While other companies have the robots in other countries, Robin is the only company using them for lawn service in the United States, he said. Customers pay $19 a week for basic service and $27 a week for a human to come out and do landscaping such as edging.
Lomont is amazed that he’s gone from the soybean fields of his family’s Allen County farm to Hollywood. “The biggest thrill was meeting Mark Cuban,” Lomont said of one of one of the “sharks” during last summer’s filming. “I was very proud to tell (the Indiana University graduate) I was a Purdue graduate.”
He’s unsure how the final edit of the show will appear and what the sharks will say about the company’s pitch, which they do without participants there, but they plan a viewing party with their employees Sunday. They all know the outcome, but he can’t share it with others until the show airs.