We develop and produce biobased epoxies. Seeing as we will eventually run out of fossil fuels, from which pretty much all currently available epoxies are made, we need to start preparing for that time. So, learning how to do that from annually renewable resources is what we are busy with every day.
Tell us about yourself?
I am a Hutterite, which means I was born and grew up in a Hutterite Colony in Southern Manitoba, comprised of about 25 families. We live in a community and try to serve the Lord just like the early Christian churches did but in this modern era. Like most Hutterites, we are farmers and grow livestock and grain. When I was 16 years old and in grade nine, I was needed in the fields and workforce, so I was pulled from school and given a tractor to drive. My dad taught me how to drive it and how to harrow. I loved it and didn’t mind continuing my education in the real world and outside the classroom. In spring and fall, I worked in the fields, and in summer, I helped the beekeepers and my dad, who taught me how to drive the combine. After that, he taught me plumbing, and I became the colony plumber. I worked in the hog barn for a few years and then in the chicken barn. My grandpa was a carpenter, and so I learned carpentry from him, as well. At age 26, I was elected colony CFO and had to learn accounting. It didn’t take long to realize that farming profits were declining over time, and one of the ways to change that was to take the commodities we grew and do something with them. Soybeans were a very underutilized commodity, so I set out to try to make epoxies from soybean oil.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Don’t limit yourself to just soybeans. Work with anything biobased. Get yourself a helper, and lay off the chocolate bars.
What problem does your business solve?
We introduced epoxies to the woodworking market a number of years ago, and now there is no more need for waste wood. There is no condition in which wood cannot be used to make a masterpiece, so we solve the waste wood problem. Anyways, I believe we did.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
I once wanted to make epoxy from soybeans but didn’t know how, and a friend of mine reminded me there is nothing I can’t do if I set my mind to it. If I wanted it badly enough, I’d find a way. It turns out I wanted it badly enough. I am also inspired by our customers, who use our products to make amazing works of art. We inspire each other, I guess. We are trying to help wean ourselves off of our dependency on fossil fuels.
What is your magic sauce?
Our amazing chemistry and engineering team, who is dedicated to making epoxies from annually renewable resources instead of petrochemicals. That is what we do, and that is why we are different.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
In five years, we plan to be the primary source of epoxies for anyone looking for a more sustainable supply. We aim to quadruple our output capacity and also grow our European operations. Yes, we do have an EU division.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Our biggest challenge is staying profitable while competing with competitors who import epoxies from China. We are also recovering from Covid-19 challenges, such as supply chain disruptions and higher raw material pricing.
How can people get involved?
By visiting our social media platforms and seeing what is possible to make with epoxies, then visit your nearest EcoPoxy retailer to buy a kit to try. Our retailer map is found here www.ecopoxy.com/retail-locator, and our Instagram page is www.instagram.com/ecopoxy. Our website is www.ecopoxy.com