Whatever Happened To Tree T-Pee Water Conservation For Farmers After Shark Tank Season 5?

"Shark Tank" has featured hundreds of innovative new products from budding entrepreneurs. It can be nearly impossible to keep them all straight. The Tree T-pee Water Conservation product for farmers was introduced on season 5 of the show and was praised by all the sharks on hand for its usefulness and efficiency. But what's happened since then?

Tree T-Pee inventor Johnny Georges came up with the product while working for his father, Rick Georges, in the citrus industry. Rick Georges was known for revolutionizing irrigation systems in the 1970s, and his son obviously takes after him. While preparing orange trees for an impending frost, Johnny commented that there had to be a better method of protecting the trees than the traditional bank of dirt that was packed around the tree's trunk every night, only to be removed again in the morning. Rick decided to put cones around the trees instead, but Johnny improved on this idea further, going beyond simple frost protection. The Tree T-Pee as we know it was born, working to retain water around the tree roots, as well as heat, ensuring trees have a much better chance of surviving unwelcome cold fronts and dry spells. It went to market in 1986, and Georges founded the parent company, GSI Supply, Inc., in 2005.

Meeting the sharks

Johnny Georges brought the Tree T-Pee to Shark Tank, facing Kevin O'Leary, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, and special guest John Paul DeJoria, founder of Paul Mitchell. Featured with three other products and their hopeful founders, the Tree T-Pee was instantly recognized as a huge money-saving product for farmers, whose water needs would go from 25,000 gallons per tree without the Tree T-Pee to only 800 gallons per tree with it. Unfortunately, Johnny was a simple man without much business savvy, just trying to help out the American farmer and conserve water. At the time, he was only selling to 42 nurseries within a five-county vicinity in Florida and was only making a single dollar profit on each Tree T-Pee sold.

Self-proclaimed "Mr. Wonderful" Kevin O'Leary was straightforward in telling Georges that the profit margins simply weren't high enough to justify his investment, saying that the item should be sold at a much higher price point than the current one of $4.50. Johnny seemed devastated and more than a little out of his depth, but John Paul DeJoria praised the work he was doing to help farmers and, noting how many farmers wouldn't be able to afford $12 per T-Pee when ordering for 10,000 trees, he said he believed they could make a smaller margin hike and still be successful. DeJoria offered Georges exactly the deal he was looking for — $150,000 for 20% of the business.

What's happened since the Shark Tank deal?

Paul Mitchell founder John Paul DeJoria accepted Georges' proposal of $150,000 for 20% of his company, and the two went to work. According to an article published one month after the "Shark Tank" episode aired, Georges and DeJoria were planning on a massive global roll-out of the Tree T-Pee to 80 countries around the world. The necessary recycled plastic had already been purchased and was at the manufacturer's being formed into the patented cone design. However, the "In the News" tab of the Tree T-Pee website hasn't been updated since then, and while some Facebook posts occurred in 2023, its last Instagram post is dated 2017. Because of this, some people may think that perhaps the Tree T-Pee is no more, but that's not the case.

The Tree T-Pee is still available for purchase at a cost of $9.95. Although they were listed as out of stock on their website, interested customers were instructed to call to order. They even expanded from just the black plastic version to include a white plastic version, but, according to Georges, speaking exclusively with House Digest, reverted to just the single black product when they determined the white ones didn't block ultraviolet light and got too hot under their canopy. They found out that the black Tree T-Pee even worked well in the dry climate of Israel, indicating that it could be used on every tree farm in America and around the world.

Is Tree T-Pee still in business?

By all accounts, Tree T-Pee and its parent company, GSI Supply, Inc., are still operational. A quick call to its headquarters in High Springs, Florida, confirms this fact. Speaking directly with Johnny Georges in an exclusive conversation with House Digest, we found that the Tree T-Pee has expanded as far as Europe, Australia, and the Middle East, bringing water conservation to its global consumers. The pandemic proved to be a significant setback, as it was for so many businesses, but Georges and the Tree T-Pee are bouncing back, working with small farms across the globe.

Johnny is still receiving what he refers to as invaluable mentorship from DeJoria, and even though he's still working out of his garage to keep down overhead, his strong environmentalism and down-home values haven't changed. Georges is passionate about conserving water, using recycled and sustainable materials, and providing a product that lasts for generations. He says that in all his years selling the Tree T-Pee to farmers, he only had one unsatisfied customer who received a full refund. On the other end of the spectrum, Georges received a personal call from the Israeli Minister of Agriculture praising the significant decrease in their water use. That's the sort of personal attention and service Georges strives to give his clients every time.

What's next for the Tree T-Pee?

As Georges continues to grind away at his business, born out of his passion for efficient and innovative farming solutions, he's still looking to extend the reach of the Tree T-Pee onto the farms of large, corporate growers. Unfortunately, corporations that own large agriculture businesses often also own other companies that may not appreciate the Tree T-Pee's eco-friendly reduction in the use of water and herbicide. Georges perseveres, however, and is currently working on shipping his product to some of the most remote areas of Asia, where water conservation is a critical necessity and not just a money-saving venture. 

Whatever the future brings, however, you can be certain Johnny Georges — still the key point person on all aspects of his business — will be on the front lines of agriculture, talking person-to-person with farmers to get the message out about his product. As climate change continues to impact our lands, he hopes to help producers move away from the old ways of doing things in favor of finding more innovative and environmentally sound practices. He believes wholeheartedly in his Tree T-Pee, which has proven to be a lifesaver to farmers across Florida and elsewhere. As far as Georges is concerned, the Tree T-Pee will be a success story as long as even five trees are saved from frost or drought, and he's saved far more than that.