HEAT-MX™ is a brand of innovative thermal insulation material offering a wide range of products and technologies based on the specific needs of such consumer products as winter garments, gloves, footwear, sleeping bags, home textiles, food bags, etc. HEAT-MX™ offers breakthrough technology features, never-before-seen in the industry, both performance-wise and environmentally. For this reason, HEAT-MX’s products and technologies received the industry’s most prestigious recognition, the ISPO Top of Innovation Awards from Germany. Despite the short history of being in the market only for three years, including the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the supply chains were disrupted at an unprecedented level and the fact that it was especially hard for HEAT-MX™ as it was at its infantile stage as a new brand in the market, the company has shown exponential growth against all odds, thanks to the breakthrough innovations the company has created! As a result, the HEAT-MX™ brand is now exposed both online and offline in the market through some of the largest retail chains and brands across Canada, many parts of the U.S.A. and Europe. HEAT-MX™ provides its own tags and labels for consumer products to provide important information about how the technologies work. As a secondary benefit of doing so, it helps build brand recognition and value in the market. Thanks to the effective efforts, there have already been many consumers recognizing the brand as “cutting edge technology, replacement of old legacy technology, etc.”. Furthermore, HEAT-MX™ created the most sustainable technology platform in the global textile industry named Clean Recycling Initiative™ and donated it for free to the non-profit organization called the same to benefit everyone around the globe.
Our values: HEAT-MX™ has always been committing itself to truly sustainable technologies, and, in doing so, there is no need to sacrifice performance or increase prices. With this, HEAT-MX™ wishes to benefit all players involved in the value chain, i.e., brands, retailers, distributors, manufacturers, etc., as well as the consumers. This has been one of the most important operational values of the company since its inception, and it will continue to operate with the same.
Mission statement: HEAT-MX™ provides uncompromised performance enhancements for goods requiring warmth and comfort in a cold environment. At the same time, breakthrough innovations in sustainable technologies are incubated and developed through operational excellence.
Tell us about yourself?
I have an engineering degree in textile from Korea and have been working in the industry in diverse roles and responsibilities. When I started my career, I assumed an R&D engineer’s role and had the luxury of experiencing a wide range of manufacturing settings and environments, including fibre making, yarn spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, etc. These experiences were invaluable and have helped me enormously, even today. In the meantime, there has been a significant lack of expertise in the textile industry, particularly in the areas of manufacturing in rich countries such as Canada, the U.S.A., Europe, etc., and it, unfortunately, leads many organizations operating in such countries to engage in improper activities and even in greenwashing. My hands-on experiences in manufacturing, however, have helped my organizations avoid being engaged in these types of problematic situations and also develop products which are truly beneficial in all aspects of their lifecycle, from raw material manufacturing to consumption. In addition, I have spent many years in the fields of sales and marketing in the industry, which helps me gain deep insights into the market and understand what the market really needs. I consider this unique combination of the two opposite spectrums of the business worlds, i.e., technical and administrative, forms an important part of the DNA of the organizations I manage. With this background, I wanted to make differences which are clearly measurable and beneficial for both the public and industry. Voila, here I am, running two organizations, HEAT-MX™ and Clean Recycling Initiative™ with successful technologies accomplishing my goals!
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
As with many other startup businesses, I have been wearing many hats to make things work with limited budgets to simply survive. Looking back, I would have delegated more tasks in the areas like marketing, etc., and freed up more of my own time to focus on developing our technologies in a more time-efficient manner. In order to do so, I would have needed more funds and, therefore, would have had to spend more time on hosting more investments. Today, I am in a better situation as we have been growing organically without a large investment in marketing, but the operational needs of my organization today are not too different from a year or two ago. With this, I set my objectives for the new fiscal year 2023 to focus more on the tasks for the business/partnership developments. I will try to operate with higher efficiency in different areas of our operations with increased manpower.
What problem does your business solve?
1. Performance-related: There are many textile goods in the market which provide insufficient warmth and/or comfort in a cold environment. For example, most winter jackets are made with large areas identified as “Cold Spots”. These cold spots lead consumers, either knowingly or unknowingly, to overdress and overconsume textile goods. HEAT-MX’s patent-pending technologies, such as nDown™, iDown™, etc., solve the structural problems in garment making, which have existed since the start of the garment technologies for insulated winter apparel. In turn, the technologies provide an unprecedented level of enhancements in minimizing or even removing cold spots and creating warm apparel. The same HEAT-MX™ technologies can be applied to many other textile goods, such as sleeping bags, home textiles, etc. There are too many examples of the HEAT-MX™ technologies providing breakthrough performance features like this example to mention in this interview article. Still, the fact HEAT-MX™ is a small startup company with a short history, which no one knew, yet received the industry’s most recognized prizes, namely ISPO Top of Innovation Awards from Germany in all product categories by 2020, is a strong testament to such problem-solving-and-breakthrough-innovations!
2. Environment-related: Since the first invention of Nylon as a synthetic fibre in the 1920s, mankind has been creating an insurmountable quantity of synthetic fibres for over 100 years, which in turn created such large environmental issues as microplastic contamination in the food we consume, air and chemical pollutions, etc., all over the world. In order to reverse the negative impacts of synthetic fibres, HEAT-MX™ developed a technology platform which enables either removing process waste altogether from a certain type of processes where synthetic raw material is used or recycling them without using any chemicals or creating microplastics in our water system. This is a truly breakthrough innovation which can change the shape of our industry forever all around the globe. In addition, HEAT-MX™ offers many other breakthrough technologies to benefit the environment. Another example is its patent-pending iDown™ technology which helps save the drying time of textile goods by 60 to 75 per cent using natural down-feather material as insulation, making it the largest energy-saving technology of its kind in the global textile industry. There are too many sustainable technologies to mention in this interview, and many more are in the pipeline.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Unfortunately, I see so many issues in the textile industry today all over the world. For example, many technologies claimed as sustainable, even by some of the biggest names in the industry, are mere greenwashing. As I mentioned earlier in this interview, these malpractices and greenwashing are sometimes done without intention because there is a significant lack of necessary knowledge in the industry. As an engineer with hands-on experience in manufacturing, sales and marketing, distribution, consumption, and even disposal, it has inspired me to make things right for everyone involved, i.e., industry players such as brands, manufacturers, etc., as well as the public. With this, I am proud that HEAT-MX™ provides the products with true technologies which create true impacts for performance and sustainability, not just mere brainwashing/greenwashing with persuasive marketing terms or even, simply put, “fake” technologies.
What is your magic sauce?
There are two key ingredients in our magic sauce. Firstly, the metrics of enhancements in the aspects of both performance and sustainability from HEAT-MX™ products and technologies are clearly demonstrated through third-party laboratories. This helps our customers understand the true impacts of what HEAT-MX offers as breakthrough technologies clearly and transparently. Secondly, we offer competitive prices, and there is a significant level of cost savings for the brands and manufacturers to adopt the HEAT-MX™ products. We have been able to make the myth, i.e., “green technologies do not need to cost more”, into a reality by transferring the cost savings of our truly sustainable technologies to our customers. With this, the HEAT-MX™ customers have been able to adopt the HEAT-MX™ products with the most sustainable technology platform in the global textile industry, i.e., Clean Recycling Initiative™ and offer their finished goods for the consumers at competitive prices. So, the combination of significantly enhanced performance metrics with strong sustainability features at a lower cost is not something one can resist tasting. Once tasted, our sauce is on your plate forever!
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
Now that our technology platforms are built on solid and expandable ground, I would like to focus our efforts on sales and marketing in the coming years. I would like to make HEAT-MX™ a household name globally, not only from the perspective of business growth but also in terms of the environmental benefits for all living organisms. With this grand plan, I will operate both HEAT-MX™ as our for-profit business and Clean Recycling Initiative™ as a not-for-profit business to effectively promote the business and educational content. In the next little while, I would like to see some of the large names in the industry engaged in the total package HEAT-MX™ and Clean Recycling Initiative™ jointly offer. The package includes performance enhancement, environmental benefits, and cost savings! On the non-profit side of the business, i.e., Clean Recycling Initiative™, in particular, we will do our best to educate the public with the right information so that it will prevent them from being greenwashed by big corporate brothers. One of the effective platforms for the public education we have found is to run an International Sustainability Marketing Competition. Our efforts in organizing this event in 2022 resulted in participation from 71 universities and 400 plus students from all over the world. We will continue this competition in 2023 and beyond.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The supply disruption caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic almost pushed us out of business. Our JV partner, who was supposed to supply products to my company after the launch of the HEAT-MX™ brand in the market, decided not to supply them to me because they were making much more money from other customers due to special circumstances created by the pandemic. With this, we had to develop other supply sources in a short period of time. To make matters worse, I could not even travel as the international borders were closed. This made me troubleshoot all the issues remotely, quickly, and most efficiently, purely relying on online communications. Even with decades of experience in international trade, I had never experienced anything similar. But, we were thankfully able to overcome the unprecedented level of challenges. I cannot thank my customers enough who were patient while I was dealing with the supply disruptions and came back for the HEAT-MX™ products! Today, we have established strong and stable supply chains, but we are always looking for ways to improve them and make them even more bullet-proof.
How can people get involved?
Please join us in making big differences in the way people live. We have the technologies the world needs, and we need your help to promote them in all four corners of the world. If you are an individual who is interested in protecting yourself from cold environments and/or protecting our precious environment, please visit our websites, www.heat-mx.com and www.cleanrecyclinginitiative.com, to learn more about them. You can become a member of the Clean Recycling Initiative™ for free. If you are an investor or an industry player, please reach us to schedule a presentation and discussion session with the company’s CEO, Sae Chang, at +1 514 604 1093 or [email protected]