Leonard Hoogerwerf and Kirk Brown received business advice and assistance from America’s SBDC Iowa so they could further develop and market their environmentally-friendly products.
In March of 2014 Leonard Hoogerwerf and Kirk Brown established Green Start, LLC, a company that develops and markets advanced gas oxygen dissolution systems for aeration in wastewater collection and treatment facilities. Their product is capable of reducing energy costs while assisting in controlling odors and enhancing beneficial biological activity. Improved presence of dissolved oxygen assists in reducing the volume and costs of many chemicals and energy typically used in wastewater treatment.
Kirk states, “Our technology offers an economic and environmentally-sound approach to assist municipalities and communities to meet the increasing treatment requirements of the current and future environmental regulations. The technology is energy efficient and can reduce aeration operating costs up to 70 percent over conventional aeration equipment systems.”
The business partners market their product to prospective communities through technical association meetings, working with engineering consultant firms, and direct contact with superintendents and operation managers of water treatment facilities. As a new, small business they operate on a tight budget that limits the type and volume of marketing. They have a staged and five-year marketing plan ready to be put in motion as funding allows. Kirk offers, “We hope to establish enough growth in sales and revenues in the near future to attract investors so we can accelerate our marketing, sales and business plan.”
The first Green Start unit was sold and is in operation in North Liberty, Iowa. Leonard and Kirk expect their technology to be marketed on a global scale in the future. Other units are currently rented and being utilized in customer trials. The proposed permanent units at the current trial locations and other projects currently in final engineering are forecast as sales for 2015. Additional sales are anticipated from markets outside of Iowa through new sales representatives and OEMs.
Leonard contacted Steve Martens, a counselor for the Iowa State University (ISU) SBDC, just two months after the business was established. Looking for some third party validation for their product, the Green Start partners gained mentors in Steve Martens and in Ted Bair, ISU SBDC Regional Director. Bair and Martens put the partners in contact with knowledgeable ISU personnel and helped get product testing done by the Center for Industrial Research and Services (CIRAS) at Iowa State University. Kirk says, “The SBDC has been helpful in getting us in to meet with various members of the engineering and research staff and find potential programs for us to get involved in.”
The Green Start partners were eager to participate in the 2014 John Pappajohn Business Plan Competition based on their product’s capabilities, projected benefits to communities, and commercial potential. The SBDC again provided guidance and business plan review services to help the partners prepare for the competition. Green Start, LLC ended up taking second place in the competition and was awarded $15,000.
Currently, the company is using contract manufacturing to produce its product. By using this method, Green Start is supporting other Iowa businesses until it is able to afford its own manufacturing facilities.
“We’re seeing an increasing interest in our product and project opportunities, but we haven’t really seen a significant increase in sales quite yet,” Kirk says. “There are strong indications that sales activity will accelerate in 2015.”
For more information on this Le Claire, Iowa business and its waste water treatment technology, contact Kirk Brown at email@example.com.