Bob Beddingfield, President and CEO of Water Energy, talks about revolutionizing the environmental impact of commercial laundry.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Jay Curry: And we’re back. Hello Texas. Welcome back to Texas Business Radio. We got a great segment coming up. I just love this gentleman and his business. And Matt’s not in the studio. We’ve got George Walden, one of our other partners. Who’s from Corporate Finance Association. George, thank you for joining me and helping me on this one.
George Walden: My pleasure.
Jay Curry: So we just spent about 50 minutes with Bob. What a story! What do you think?
George Walden: Oh, I agree with you. We hear the term green technology all the time and people are always bringing good ideas into the marketplace. But someone who commercialize a good idea, that’s a different story, it’s much harder. And so here’s a discussion about a person, Bob Beddingfield, who is the President of Water Energy Technologies, Inc. Who has developed this technology, taken from NASA of all of all…
Jay Curry: Right.
George Walden: Groups out there and has commercialized it. So, Bob…
Jay Curry: It’s a great story.
George Walden: What a great story.
Jay Curry: Yeah. So, Bob thank you for joining us.
Bob Beddingfield: Pleasure to be here.
Jay Curry: So, tell us about what Water Energy Technologies is.
Bob Beddingfield: Water Energy, Water Energy Technologies is a manufacturing and marketing company. We sell advanced water treatment systems to, currently to the commercial laundry industry. And there are multiple other applications that, in the future we hope to address but right now we’re focused on commercial laundry.
Jay Curry: Okay. And this is really revolutionary, even though it’s been around for 20 years. But it’s, it’s really unbelievable and now that we’re in to green, as George was saying, this, this ought to take over the world. It’s a, big stuff.
Bob Beddingfield: Well, we should hope so.
Jay Curry: Yeah. Well, tell us, tell us a little bit about this green ozone cleaning concept that you’ve started.
Bob Beddingfield: Okay. What this technology is, is that we use ozone gas. We create ozone gas, we dissolve it into cold water and we use that to wash the many millions of pounds of linen that are washed on a daily basis for all the hotels and hospitals around the world. I mean we’re, we sell in a couple of overseas countries but mostly we’re, our market we’re focused on the United States. But we have created technology in association with NASA more than 25 years ago. That takes, we create ozone gas, we dissolved in the water and we use that to wash the linen. Ozone is a very powerful cleaning agent and a powerful bleaching agent. But it’s also extremely green because it’s made totally of oxygen. So, the big benefit is, it replaces most of the chemicals that you would normally use in traditional laundry; alkali acid, chlorine, bleach, fabric softener. You can pretty much get rid of all that and you cut your detergent use in about half and it only works in cold water. So, by default…
Jay Curry: No hot water. Huh?
Bob Beddingfield: Yeah. By default, we eliminate the hot water. So that saves literally billions BTU’s of energy from, you know, going up the smokestack or going down the drain each year.
Jay Curry: So, my understanding is, from our prior talk, that laundry is a huge cost for hospitals, for any place where you have a lot of laundry obviously. Hotels?
Bob Beddingfield: Yeah, absolutely. In a hotel,typically the laundry is the second most expensive component of operations, behind labor. And, of course, labor is going to be the most expensive component of just about anything that you do. In a hospital, the energy footprint of a laundry itself, is about 15 percent of a hospital’s operating energy footprint.
Jay Curry: And your approach reduces costs in many areas. What are they? No, you don’t have to heat the water. I mean believe, you, you get better laundered clothes by using cold water.
Bob Beddingfield: Cold water only. Yeah. And it’s, a lot of people have moved to using cold water at home. But when you think of it on a commercial scale, you know, people are indoctrinated to believe that you have to use water, 160 degrees. And so much chlorine and so many chemicals. That this is a paradigm shift as far as what people are accustomed to in traditional laundry practices. Ozone, an ozone laundry standard allows you to greatly reduce your energy footprint because you eliminate almost all, if not all, of the hot water that you need. And that right there, the boilers, just the expense on the boiler is incredible. You know the maintenance on the boiler and the person you have to have there watching the boiler. But then the fuel for the boiler, also the drying times of linen is cut by, when you eliminate the chemicals, you eliminate a lot of the hydrophilic components that hold onto the water when the linen goes into the dryer. So you’re accelerating the drying process, also, and that saves energy too. In eliminating these chemicals, ozone replaces most of the chemicals that you would normally use. So when you eliminate the chemicals, you shorten the wash cycle. Because you’re basically using detergent and rinsing it and you don’t have all these other steps were you add all these other chemicals. So you’re accelerating your process. And since the drying times are reduced, you can accelerate your throughput. Well, many laundry’s face the dilemma of not having enough capacity to handle what they do. Especially when they have a really big weekend and there’s mountains of linen, you know, on Monday morning. That the crew comes in for the week and they’re thinking “Oh my god. What do I?” Well if you accelerate the throughput, you can literally increase the volume or increase, increase the capacity of your laundry. Which the people are happy because they finish their days sooner. And also it increases, improves the working environment and the laundry because you don’t have all the hot water and the steam. So, you know, if you’ve been into any of these commercial laundries, you know they’re, I’m not saying miserable but it’s not the best working conditions because everything is hot and steamy. Well when you open the laundry or open the washing machine and the linen that you have to pull out is cold or cool to the touch. I mean what an improvement in working conditions. So the worker morale goes up also. But the big savings are in chemicals, in energy and also chemical cost. Or did I say that? Oh and water. Water use. Because we shorten the formula, we reduce the chemicals we need. So we reduce the water that’s required and we accelerate the, the throughput.
Jay Curry: And there’s a lot of others like the amount of time you’re having to pay people to do the laundry because it’s a shorter cycle. What about the impact on cloth?
Bob Beddingfield: Well, what you said, that’s a big deal. Labor, reduction in labor costs. But that’s kind of an intangible because you have to have a good manager to make sure you stay on top of that.
Jay Curry: Right.
Bob Beddingfield: You know you don’t have people dragging around. But as far as the save, another huge savings, in fact the biggest savings of all is on linen replacement costs. Because traditional chemicals and hot water literally thrashed the linen and it destroys the fibers. And if you’re in a commercial laundry, you can see this by looking in the lint filter in the dryer and you scoop out wads and wads and wads of lint. Well many laundries that we have converted to an ozone standard with cold water, one of the first things they’d notice is that they don’t really have to clean their lint filters anymore. So the dryer lint filters, I mean that to them is an absolute direct result of the linen not being destroyed in the laundry process.
Jay Curry: So that, that lint is literally out of the cloth. It’s not part of the cleaning process, it’s being pulled out by all the chemicals and things.
Bob Beddingfield: Oh, absolutely.
Jay Curry: And that goes away.
Bob Beddingfield: Well the, where it comes from is the, the fibers that are, the linen is made up of, because of the harshness of the chlorine and the hot water and the really intense high pH from the alkali, it shatters the fibers. So then in the tumbling and the heat of the dryer the fibers literally fall apart. And that’s where the lint is coming from. So when you switch to ozone and cold water the lint goes away and it’s obvious. Well, you know, that, most sheets get up, you get about 30 to 50 washes before they become so thin that they need to be replaced. But when you switch to ozone, you can get 100 to 120 washes out of the sheet.
Jay Curry: Wow! That’s three times or more. That’s, that’s an amazing. So, the big problem here for you is convincing people that you can use cold water, that you don’t need to use all this detergents.
Bob Beddingfield: Correct.
Jay Curry: You don’t need all this.
Bob Beddingfield: Correct.
Jay Curry: Chlorine and things of that sort.
Bob Beddingfield: Correct. And people, you know, change is hard for anybody. Whether it’s on a personal scale or, you know…
Jay Curry: Yeah.
Bob Beddingfield: Corporate scale. But if you’re used to doing something a certain way and that’s in the back of your mind, how it has to be done. Change is very difficult. So, if you’re going into telling somebody “Okay. We’re going to eliminate all these chemicals except for that one and then you’re going to turn off your boiler. We’re virtually not going to need hot water.” That’s hard for people to swallow some times.
George Walden: I think we are seeing though, where technology today, environmental technology changes are being, the public likes it, the green technology.
Bob Beddingfield: Absolutely.
George Walden: The public really wants to see this stuff implemented. So I think you’re going to get buy in’s in that area.
Bob Beddingfield: And that’s the big push. That’s the pressure that we’re looking for in marketing this product and this paradigm shift, is that it’s going to have to be consumer driven. Because a lot of the corporate people, you know, they’re comfortable.
Jay Curry: The way it is. Right?
Bob Beddingfield: The way it is.
Jay Curry: Change is always difficult.
Bob Beddingfield: Right. But then when the consumer is demanding that they do something. You know, a lot of the millennial’s now days are much more focused on environmental impact.
Jay Curry: Yeah. Green technology is good stuff.
Bob Beddingfield: And green technology. Absolutely. They want to be kind to the earth. And they realize with traditional laundry, we’re sending millions of gallons of contaminated water down the drain. But when you switch to ozone, it eliminates that.
Jay Curry: This is a great story folks. Truly is going to be revolutionary. It’s out there now. So, Bob, if somebody wants to learn more about this technology and your company, how do they do that?
Bob Beddingfield: Well go to our Web site waterenergy.com. And another Web site, actually that’s much larger, laundryconsulting.com. That has very explicit information about this process and how it came to be and the differences in the technology that’s available out there in the market.
Jay Curry: Okay. Bob, this is a great story. Thank you for coming on.
Bob Beddingfield: My pleasure.
Jay Curry: And folks, we’ve got to take a break. We got to pay a few bills. But don’t go away because we’re going to be right back. This is Texas Business Radio.
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Along with hosting “Texas Business Radio”, Jay is a Professional Certified Coach and Master Chair facilitating four Houston-based Vistage peer groups. In addition to being a best selling non-fiction author, the 2015 release of his award winning novel, Nixon and Dovey: the Legend Returns, adds novelist to his title. Jay holds a BS in Mathematics from Oklahoma State and an MS in Computer Science from Kansas State. You can learn more about Jay HERE.