Dr. Eric Lewis
Founder, Chairman of the Board
Eric started his first business at 7 years old. When his older friends were delivering papers and mowing lawns, Eric started a fad for which, to this day, he is still known: PET RATS! He developed a large-scale selective breeding program to grow every variation of white, brown and black coloration. With the help of his father, he designed and built cages and habitats for the pet rats he sold. Eric started the “Downey Pet Rat Club” centered around Saturday afternoon rat maze races which he built and which attracted over 100 spectators and 25 – 30 participants every week. He hired his sisters (helped by his mom) to sell cookies and lemonade. In three years he had $11,500 in the bank. Eric may still be in the rat business today except that the city shut him down because so many of the pets (with their identifying ankle bracelets) got out!
Starting at 10 years old, Eric designed, engineered, developed, and with the help of his dad, manufactured adjustable reflectors to fit around sun lovers’ faces. Many accuse Eric of building his patient population in dermatology and cosmetic surgery early in his career. He started selling Fuller Brush products, door to door, at 12 years old, and by 14 was the manager of 13 salespeople in the Southeast Territory of Los Angeles.
Starting at 15 years old Eric had similar entrepreneurial successes in group and private tennis lessons for Downey Parks and Recreation Department. Eric had a full tennis scholarship during his undergraduate studies at UCSB where he majored in Biochemistry and earned the Dean’s Award for the Most Outstanding Senior. During those four years, Eric commercially bred 22 different species of African and Amazon Cichlids for neighboring pet stores. His fellow students and especially his roommates thought Eric to be quite quirky.
While studying at UCLA Medical School, Eric started limited partnerships buying, improving (road, pad and electricity), and selling “raw” Malibu properties. He was awarded Alpha Omega Alpha as being part of the top 5% of UCLA Medical School (1976). During this time Eric bought numerous beachfront properties and developed them into organic produce farms – before organic was “in”, just because it was the right way to farm. Six of these farms are located in central Baja California, one of which is now AFI Abalone Aquafarm. Eric has created, developed, expanded and operated Lewis Ranches, Malibu Organics, Raspberries International, E & L Rancheros of Baja, and Double-E Rancheros of Baja starting 35 years ago. These farming companies have specialized in organic, fresh fruits and vegetables. When the drought of the early 1990’s hit central Baja, Eric switched to brackish (diluted salt water) farming. He found vegetable plants in the lagoon adjacent to one of his farms that had developed salt resistance. They had genetically and naturally evolved into brackish plants from the millions of bird droppings that contained fresh-water vegetable seeds. Eric recognized the importance of this in vivo evolution and was able to propagate twenty-three different varieties of squash, elephant garlic, English peas, and three varieties of peppers. While the rest of central Baja agriculture was being devastated by the drought, his farms adapted and flourished. Before starting strawberry agriculture, Eric researched all known strawberries and found an experimental species called Silva, which could be grown year-round in a greenhouse environment. Although the Silva species, which was developed at U.C. Riverside, had never been grown commercially, Eric recognized that his beachfront properties in central Baja provide an environment that is similar to a greenhouse. U.C. Riverside dramatically discounted the new experimental species to test it “in vivo”. The results were beyond anyone’s expectations, as Eric’s strawberry farms set records for production per acre in a single year, most profitability per acre per year, highest total income per acre, and most consecutive months of production. These experiences are the basis of MBET’s Selective Breeding and Hybridization System™ (Hyper Evolution™) which is noted throughout this website. Eric also owned and operated three fresh produce distributing companies called Vista, Baja Berries, and Alamo, whose primary business was to sell and ship fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico, Central America, and South America to the United States. By adding flash-freeze equipment to his operation, Eric was able to increase profits by over 30% with riper produce that could not be shipped fresh. Eric has used thorough research, creativity, and adaptability to strive to be the “best” in all fields in which he has ventured. Eric, the 32 members of the Leadership Team and the entire 377 Advisory Members working in 37 Teams have led MBET through the toughest times in aquafarming history using the same creative problem-solving skills.