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Sustainable Cannibalism

“But you’re going to cannibalize your business,” said a friend and advisor after I gushed about a new technology that was sure to affect the commercial cleaning industry. The technology is Electro-Chemical Activation, or ECA.  Based on centuries-old science and modern equipment advances, ECA devices allow people to make their own cleaners and sanitizers / disinfectants using only tap water, salt, and small doses of electricity. 

The ECA systems, which are about the size of a medicine cabinet, take tap water, add salt, and then pass the brine solution through electrolyzing chambers that split the liquid into two solutions: a sodium formula for all-purpose cleaning and an acid mixture for sanitizing and disinfecting. From a sustainability standpoint, ECA is the “triple bottom line.” ECA sanitizer is up to 100 times more effective than bleach in killing bacteria, viruses and harmful spores, yet safe and nontoxic to humans.  

Safer, cheaper, better for the environment – what’s not to love about ECA?   Well, your company’s bottom line, argued my friend. “If you’re selling machines that allow businesses to make their own cleaners, then won’t they stop purchasing cleaners from you?” he asked. “Aren’t you cannibalizing the rest of your green cleaning line?”

“Yes,” I answered. “And I couldn’t be happier, because I believe we’re pioneering a technology that will become the new anchor in a seven billion-dollar-a-year industry.”

My company, EcoLogic Solutions, offers more than 100 environmentally preferable cleaning products to commercial users, everything from floor cleaners to hand soaps. Sure, we’ve seen a drop-off in product sales to supermarkets and food processing companies that have purchased our ECA technology.  Especially after we showed them that ECA can be used to do things like run dishwashers, wash produce, or create “active ice” that extends the life of food.  

But what we’ve lost in short-term profits, we’ve gained in trust and strengthened relationships.  And sustainability. When I started EcoLogic Solutions, I dreamed of a company that would not only provide green alternatives to the industry, but a company that would break the business-as-usual rules.  I never liked rules. Instead, I want our customers to see us not simply as a supplier, but as a trusted partner that will provide them with any service, advice, or product they need to clean their facility in the most environmentally sensitive and sustainable way possible.  Often, this means fewer yet better products, lower usage rates, and, yes, a little bit of business cannibalism from time to time.

So be it.  Because when my kids ask me what I do, I don’t want to brag about record profits.  I want to assure them that I’m working hard to leave this planet a little bit better for them.

Anselm Doering is the founder, president, and CEO of Brooklyn-based EcoLogic Solutions, Inc.  He can be reached at anselm@ecologicsolutions.com

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