Rod Zubrod, CEO of Geopolymer Solutions, talks to us about the concrete industry and some of their alternative concretes.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Jay Curry: And we’re back. Hello, Texas. Welcome back to Texas Business Radio. We’ve got a great program going on today. We’re talking about materials and supply companies, and some pretty interesting things going on in that industry around Texas. We have a very special guest in today. This is Jay Curry, your host for this segment. Let me remind you before we get started. Everything we do is in high-definition color on texasbusinessradio.com. We also monitor a 24-hour line, 844-814-8144. You can call that anytime, call us at 2:00 in the morning, we’re going to get it, we’re going to get the experts, we’ll get Rod back here, we’ll get the answers, and we’ll get it on the air for you. That’s 844-814-8144. We also monitor #tbr, as in Texas Business Radio, #tbr. But first of all, go to texasbusinessradio.com. That’s where the action is, that’s where your answers are. Alright, let’s get started. Very interesting. We’re talking Cold Fusion Concrete. I have in the studio, Rod Zumbrod?
Rod Zubrod: Zubrod.
Jay Curry: I put an M in there again, didn’t I? Zubrod.
Rod Zubrod: Yes, sir.
Jay Curry: Closer? Rod, thanks for joining us. Rod is the president of Geopolymer Solutions, and we’re delighted to have you on. Tell us what the heck is Geopolymer Solutions about.
Rod Zubrod: Well, thank-
Jay Curry: What are you guys up to?
Rod Zubrod: Thanks for having me. Cold Fusion Concrete is a form of geopolymer concrete. Geopolymer concrete is alkali-activated concrete that has no Portland in it, Portland cement. Portland cement is a material that contributes … It’s the second-most used material on the face of the earth just under water.
Jay Curry: Wow. Are you kidding me?
Rod Zubrod: No.
Jay Curry: Why is that? I mean, we don’t drink cement.
Rod Zubrod: It’s everywhere. If you drive anywhere on the highways of Houston or wherever in the suburbs here, you see concrete trucks everywhere. That concrete contains Portland cement, so the fact that you see concrete trucks every day, everywhere is just proof that it is the second-most used material on the globe.
Jay Curry: And it has water in it too, right?
Rod Zubrod: It does. Yeah, exactly.
Jay Curry: That just compounds it even more. That’s an amazing statistic. Go ahead, tell us the story.
Rod Zubrod: Portland cement contributes from 5 to 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It was our goal to remove that and to reduce the carbon footprint of construction. We have several products we developed that are all Portland cement-free. We have a chemical-resistant concrete materials and we have recently a fireproofing material called FP250 that we just achieved our certification through Underwriter Laboratories on Wednesday, the 24th.
Jay Curry: Wow, congratulations. This is a big deal, by the way, right?
Rod Zubrod: Underwriter Laboratories is the most aggressive and premier certification available. It’s very, very expensive, but once you’re complete, you can provide fireproofing on projects globally, whereas some of these certifications you can only work in the United States or a specific state, so with the Underwriter Laboratories, we were very pleased with the results on Wednesday.
Jay Curry: Imagine our listeners are thinking you build a building out of concrete and it’s fireproof, right? But we’re not talking about that. You’re talking about spray-on, all kinds of materials. Talk to me a little bit about … This is really kind of earth-shaking technology.
Rod Zubrod: It’s exciting to us. On a building that’s constructed with structural steel or aluminum and it doesn’t have a sprinkler system, in other words, water that can put out a fire, they spray our material or spray-applied fireproofing on the structural steel to a specific depth to achieve a one, two, three, or four-hour rating, and those ratings assess how long it will take to get people out of the building in the event of a fire. For example, the World Trade Center. When the jet hit it, much of the fireproofing fell off the beams, which reduced the amount of time they had to get people out of the World Trade Center. Had they used our fireproofing or a better one, it’s possible … We probably wouldn’t have saved the building, but we would’ve given them another hour, maybe two to get people out of the building.
Jay Curry: Jiminy Christmas, just think of the impact of that.
Rod Zubrod: Yeah.
Jay Curry: This is a spray-on, right? Usually you spray it on wood, you can spray it on steel.
Rod Zubrod: Primarily, it’s structural steel, but it’s used in tunnels also to protect the concrete. Portland cement concrete has a very low resistance to heat, so in a tunnel where there could be a vehicle fire or trucks that catch on fire, they do put a lot of spray-applied fireproofing there. But primarily, it’s oriented to the structural steel buildings.
Jay Curry: This is pretty amazing. There’s a big deal about the chemical erosion, and things, and concrete, and how you guys offset that. Your concrete lasts, your cement lasts so much longer?
Rod Zubrod: Well, most typically, Portland cement structures, say a foundation is designed for about 40 to 50 years. Our concrete is designed on multiple decade or 1,000 year, or maybe even longer than that. The absence of Portland cement concrete, which is, frankly, a flawed material because it’s susceptible to so many different degradations.
Jay Curry: About any acid, right?
Rod Zubrod: Oh, any acid will degrade Portland cement concrete. Our material contains a large amount of glass and a glassy alumina that resists all acids. The fireproofing also resists acid, so in the petrochemical industry and other places where they have chemicals, our spray-applied fireproofing will last longer than anyone else’s, on a factor of 10, to 20, to 30 times longer.
Jay Curry: You just got certified, UL, which is, what … That’s 12 months? A year and a half to get …
Rod Zubrod: It was about a month, or excuse me, a year and two months, the overall process.
Jay Curry: Yeah, they are serious about that. When you get that, that’s something to pop champagne and celebrate.
Rod Zubrod: We did.
Jay Curry: Yeah. Good, good. What’s that mean for the company now? You just got certified last week, you’re ready to go. Where are you going?
Rod Zubrod: Well, with the Underwriter Laboratory certification, we have sales folks out there, we have distributors, and we’ve been looking for and contracting with toll blenders because our plant won’t be able to keep up with the demand. The spray-applied fireproofing we expect to be our largest selling item, the most dynamic one that we have. It has characteristics that are well above anyone else’s spray-applied fireproofing, so we’re already bringing orders in the door for the spray-applied fireproofing as a result of the Wednesday certification, and we expect to keep two to three toll blenders busy producing our materials.
Jay Curry: Now right now, you’re doing that just here in Texas. But you got some operations or something going in Canada? What was that about?
Rod Zubrod: Well, we’re selling concrete on various projects across the United States and in Canada. In Canada, they’re constructing a bottle recycling plant for soft drinks and soda, that kind of thing. Those soft drinks and fruit drinks have phosphoric acid and nitric acid-
Jay Curry: Lots of acid, which we know …
Rod Zubrod: Oh, yeah.
Jay Curry: … destroys.
Rod Zubrod: The fact that they’re required to install slabs and foundations that won’t degrade in Portland cement means they have to have materials such as ours. So we’re importing our material, or a portion of it, to Canada, and they’re constructing the project with our materials.
Jay Curry: With this fireproofing thing, it’s going to get hot. Do you have plans for expanding? Are you going to try to continue do it just here in Texas?
Rod Zubrod: No-
Jay Curry: You’re north of Houston right now, right?
Rod Zubrod: Well, our plants are blending facilities.
Jay Curry: Right.
Rod Zubrod: Unlike a Portland cement concrete plant that requires high heat and grinding apparatus, we take the minerals and other components and blend them together, put them in a bag, and we sell them that way.
Jay Curry: You can ship them anywhere, then.
Rod Zubrod: We can ship them anywhere, but we can also set up plants in Canada and across the globe, which are blending facilities, using local waste byproducts and produce the material locally so the shipping costs aren’t so high.
Jay Curry: This is an amazing story and very exciting for you. You’re just getting ready to explode.
Rod Zubrod: Yes, we’re pretty excited about it and we’re also a bit anxious in that the need for the materials is high. With all of the demonstrations we’ve done, and especially with the spray-applied fireproofing, the sales are a little scary.
Jay Curry: Yeah, oh. Scary on the good side, I assume.
Rod Zubrod: Yes, the good side. Just the production is going to be a trick.
Jay Curry: Folks, we’ve been talking to Rob Zubod, to …
Rod Zubrod: Zubrod.
Jay Curry: Zubrod. Zubrod.
Rod Zubrod: Yes, sir.
Jay Curry: Z-U-B-R-O-D. Got it. Rod. If somebody wanted to get a hold of you, learn more, particularly about this fire product, where do they need to go? How do they find out?
Rod Zubrod: They can visit our website first at www.geopolymertech.com, www.G-E-O-P-O-L-Y-M-E-R-T-E-C-H.com, and there is a forum there to ask questions and do other things, or they can call us at 281-419-1866.
Jay Curry: Exciting. Thank you, Rod, for coming on. This is very interesting, very exciting, and congratulations.
Rod Zubrod: Thanks for having me.
Jay Curry: Alright, folks. We’ve got to pay a few bills, so we’re going to be right back. Don’t go anywhere. We’re going to be right back.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.