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cincinnati life sciences corridor spurred by $100K grant from duke energy

The next phase of Covington’s growing life sciences corridor got a boost from Duke Energy, which has awarded the city a $100,000 urban renewal grant for its bioLOGIC accelerator.

The grant will go toward an expansion at bioLOGIC’s 7,000-square-foot second floor at its Russell Street headquarters. The addition will include office and lab space, along with classroom facilities at the life science accelerator. The building’s 5,000-square-foot first floor is at capacity.

bioLOGIC houses seven life sciences companies. Its growth is being fueled in two areas: through expanding existing companies and attracting new companies to locate or relocate to Covington.

The accelerator has a pipeline of nearly a dozen companies looking to locate in its space, either temporarily or permanently, says bioLOGIC Managing Director Keith Schneider. The organization hopes to secure more funding through grants or private investments to complete the build out, which could be finished late this year.

The Duke Energy Foundation’s Urban Revitalization Pilot Program grant is designed to help spur job growth and retention in urban core communities served by Duke Energy. Ohio and Kentucky serves as the young programs pilot area. Duke operates in five states in the southeast and the Midwest.

Duke has been investing in the region’s economic development for years, says Rhonda Whitaker, company director of government and community relations. Traditionally, Duke focused more on large manufacturing and industrial projects, but realized in urban areas such projects are rare.

“We have a Site Readiness program that helps prepare large tracts of land for manufacturing projects, but local leaders said they didn’t meet an urban community’s needs," Whitaker says. "And the urban core is significant and important in our area. Successful regions rely on a strong urban core. And this is really an effort to concentrate on those community’s job growth and sustainability."

The Duke Foundation chose Covington’s bioLOGIC because it was an emerging, successful innovator in the growing life sciences arena. From its inception, it’s been a private, public partnership that relied on private and government investment and support.

“It’s an effort to harness the power of entrepreneurship in the region with space for training and creates a targeted, skilled workforce,” Whitaker says.

By Feoshia Henderson
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

entrepreneurs bank on cute, funny monsters to convince kids to do their chores

Can monsters make kids do chores that parents can’t make them do?

Chris Bergman and Paul Armstrong think they can. Not by frightening kids into action, but rather by encouraging them to collect the cute, funny monsters that these entrepreneurs have created as part of their new mobile app, Choremonster.

The founders of the Cincinnati-based startup are both experienced web designers who were part of the 2011 graduating class at The Brandery, a startup accelerator based in Cincy that helped to launch a dozen new tech businesses in the past two years.

Choremonster is a web-based mobile app that lets parents and kids interact to make chores more enjoyable.  Kids are rewarded for completing tasks by earning real-life rewards from mom and dad. They can also collect cool, virtual monsters from Choremonster that they can play games with online or trade with friends.

Bergman describes the app as “allowance meets Pokemon” and says it’s targeted at kids age 6-12. “The monsters are instant gratification for kids. What kid doesn’t like monsters? It’s worked well in all of our test families.  Kids are really inspired.”

Choremonster recently received a $200,000 investment from CincyTech, a public- private partnership whose mission is to invest in high-growth startup technology companies in Southwest Ohio.  In addition, support from CincyTech has helped to attract angel investors, bringing the total seed-stage funding to $350,000.

“As of 2010, 51 percent of children between 4 and 12 years old had digital devices that could run the Choremonster app, and we know that number is growing,” says Mike Venerable, Managing Director of Digital, Software and Health Technology at CincyTech. “By incorporating a web-based service into its platform as well, Choremonster has a strong market on which it can capitalize.”

Bergman says that Choremonster will earn revenue through selling memberships to a premium version of the program. The company also plans to sell licensed products depicting the app’s monster characters, which include colorful names such as Frank Rumpnoodle and Phil Dustrumple. There are over 250 monsters kids can collect.

Public release of the app is the next step, says Bergman, although he declined to estimate exactly when that would take place.

Source: Chris Bergman
Writer: Val Prevish

Energy Optimizers helps schools on tight budgets reign in energy costs

Tight budgets have become a way of life for school districts, and many businesses that work with schools have felt the pinch of those pennies.  But one Dayton company is enjoying steady growth with a long list of school clients by helping them save money.

Energy Optimizers USA was founded in 2009 by Greg Smith and has grown from a two-man operation then to 15 employees today.  The company designs and implements energy systems that utilize renewable energy and conservation measures to help cut the power bills for their customers.

“We’ve grown pretty rapidly,” says Smith, who formerly worked for Trane in Dayton.  “There is a strong demand for this type of thing right now.”

 Energy Optimizers’ primary customers are K-12 schools and government buildings throughout Ohio and the Midwest.  

“I like working with education,” says Smith, who says he formed his own company because he wanted to expand the type of work he was doing with Trane.  “It’s nice to help out the people that are there to help kids.”

Smith’s company implements plans that usually save his customers about 20 percent a year on power bills and include everything from new light bulbs to solar panels and wind mills.  “If it uses energy, we’ve got it,” he says.

Energy Optmizers works with partners in all areas of energy use -- HVAC, solar, lighting and more.  They handle project development and installation and will even manage the system afterward.

“We really do it all, A to Z,” says Smith.  “As I like to say, ‘people understand it when they have one throat to choke,’” he says with a laugh.

To date, they have already implemented systems for at least 100 school districts and they expect that number to double in the next year.  When a client is paying about $500,000 per year for energy, saving $100,000 on their bill is a big deal.  

Smith says he is looking to hire two more employees right now, and expects hiring to continue over the next year.

Source: Greg Smith, Energy Optimizers
Writer: Val Prevish

g-g-g-Global Cooling provides the deep freeze biomedical companies are looking for

An Athens-based company is primed to make a dent in the billion-dollar high performance cooling product market using an engine that's been around for almost 200 years.

Global Cooling LLC, a 16-year-old former engineering firm, is now producing ultra-low freezers for use in the biomedical field not only is based on green technology, but also promises huge savings.

The high-efficiency freezers, which keep its cargo as cold as -121 degrees Fahrenheit, are the first of their kind.

"If you go into a large bio-repository, or a hospital or a large pharmaceutical facility, you'll see a large number of ultra-low freezers employed for long-term storage of biological samples," explains Bill White, the company's director of marketing. "In some cases, you can find 400 or 600 of them at one place."

Global Cooling's new freezers perform the same task more uniformly, more quietly and at a fraction of the energy usage. They also use no oil, unlike traditional cooling products.

"Depending on the kilowatt-per-hour rate, it takes from $1,200-$2,000 a year just to operate (traditional units). What our ultra-low freezers do cuts the cost of that by about half. That's a serious benefit that is going to land on someone's bottom line."

Started in 1995 in Athens as an engineering firm, the company was primarily focused on patenting cooling technology that helped slow ozone layer depletion. Soon after, it determined Stirling engines, a 19th-Century invention that had been employed in steam engines, could be modernized as an improvement over the current technology.

The company began producing its own cooling products, culminating in the most recent model, which is now rolling off production lines. With investment from Ohio Third Frontier's Entrepreneurial Signature Program and TechGROWTH Ohio, it expanded its facility in Athens earlier this year. Its first three coolers off the new production line were delivered to Ohio University's Innovation Center last week, for use in its laboratories.

"It came full circle -- the university was involved in the early stages, helping with the business planning, and now they turned around and purchased the first three units off the line," says White.

Orders are already pouring in from bio-science companies both here and worldwide, and Global Cooling has a big future thanks to the innovation, he adds. The company expects to add 70 jobs over the next couple of years, most of them on the technical side.

Source: Bill White, Global Cooling LLC
Writer: Dave Malaska

Bolt Express delivers, 24/7/365

On any given day, at any given time, some 75 employees at Toledo’s Bolt Express are dispatching and tracking millions of tons of cargo being transported by truck and air freight carrier all over North America, including Canada and Mexico.

The company’s operations center is teeming with activity 24/7/365, managing shipments for its hundreds of customers in the manufacturing, retail and construction sectors.

““We track our customers’ freight from door to door, coordinating every aspect of it,” explains Guy Sanderson, the company’s chief operating officer. “We do it by satellite and provide real-time updates to customers.”

The company’s innovative technology is what makes the load tracking possible, says Sanderson. “We invest heavily in technology and have a product development team dedicated to creating new capabilities to handle all the shipments we’re in charge of.”  

One of the tracking capabilities the team developed is called “Border Advantage,” which is used for Canadian and Mexican shipments. “It simplifies the complex customs procedure for freight and enables our customers to check the status of their shipment at any time during the border-crossing process,” he explains.

Elizabeth and Ben Bauman established Bolt Express in 2001. The company, which started with four employees, has pursued an aggressive growth strategy. It built a new state-of-the-art headquarters in 2005 and expanded its services in 2007 to offer cross border and intra-Mexico shipping. Bolt Express now has 90 employees and was recently recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest growing privately owned companies in America.

While the company doesn’t own any trucks itself, it works with some 300 truck owner/operators and also partners with air carrier networks. To maintain quality, Bolt Express mandates that all drivers who work for its partner owner/operators complete rigorous training provided by the company.

Regardless where a shipment originates or terminates in North America, if it’s being dispatched and tracked by Bolt Express, it’s in capable hands.

Source:  Guy Sanderson, Bolt Express
Writer:  Lynne Meyer

Ohio TechAngels grows to largest angel group in U.S.

Ohio TechAngels may not have been Ohio's first angel fund, but since its founding in 2004 it has grown to become the largest --  not just in Ohio, but in the entire United States.

Earlier this month, Entrepreneur pegged the Columbus-based investment group as the largest in the country with 282 members, ahead of Los Angeles's Tech Coast Angels, with 263 members.

Cleveland-based North Coast Angel Fund also made the top 10 list, coming in fifth with 180 members. Ohio was the only state with two angel groups in Entrepreneur's top 10.

John Huston, who formed Ohio TechAngels in 2004, says there never was a plan to grow the group to any particular size.

"I moved back to Ohio from Boston, where I was a banker, and after a year I was bored," he remembers. "What I missed was working with CEOs."

But when he looked for an angel fund in which to become involved, he could find none in central Ohio, he says. So, to learn how to start his own, he enrolled in a boot camp run by Ohio's first angel fund -- Cincinnati-based Queen City Angels.

Since then, Ohio TechAngels has offered three funds and made 53 investments in 33 Ohio-based, tech-related companies, Huston says.

He says Ohio's angel environment has four things going for it. First is the Ohio Technology Investment Tax Credit, which gives angel investors a 25 percent tax credit for investing in Ohio-based tech startups. Second is the Ohio Third Frontier's Innovation Ohio Loan Fund, which lends money to early stage companies.

"If you're an investor, that's non-dilutive capital, which increases return for shareholders," Huston says. "It provides access to debt before any commercial bank will lend to them. Half of the companies we've invested in have been able to borrow under that program."

A third strength of Ohio's angel environment is what Huston calls "a great infrastructure of incubators" that are equipped to assist early stage companies in ways that help them succeed. And fourth are the pre-seed grants provided by the Third Frontier, he says, noting that a substantial part of Ohio TechAngel's three funds -- some $6 million -- has consisted of state grants that include money from the Third Frontier. 

In the end, Huston says, it's not about how many members Ohio TechAngels has, but how many companies they help.

"The myth is that angels are a bunch of geezers with a lot of money who are trying to make a lot more money," he says. "What we're really trying to do is make meaning -- by building entrepreneurial wealth."

Source: John Huston, Ohio TechAngels
Writer: Gene Monteith

Venturi Motors sets sights on electric car production within two years

The Buckeye Bullet attracted Venturi Automobiles to Ohio. But a perfect mix of conditions could keep it here and result in all-electric cars being produced in Columbus in the next two years.

Venturi, a Monaco-based company that builds electric vehicles, announced in January that it was establishing North American headquarters at TechColumbus, located on the Ohio State University campus. Since then, Venturi North America has been working through regulatory requirements for manufacturing cars here while continuing to partner with OSU engineering students and the university's Center for Automotive Research (CAR) on the experimental Buckeye Bullet, which has continually set land speed records (see our story in July 28 issue).

"A few years ago the owner of the company, Gildo Pastor, got involved in the Buckeye Bullet during the hydrogen run when it was using fuel cells," says John Pohill, an industry veteran and CEO of Venturi North America.

Pastor "fell in love with speed and became a donor to CAR and to the university," Pohill explains. "In their attempt for that speed record, they talked about what would be next, and Gildo, being an electric car manufacturer, said maybe we can go to electric, and that's exactly what happened. He became even more involved."

When Pastor decided to establish North American operations, Pohill says, "the perfect spot was Columbus because Ohio State was here, the Buckeye Bullet was here and a great deal of other activities relating to the electric car."

Venturi North America announced at the Detroit Auto Show in January that it would build its America automobile in Ohio. Pohill describes the America as a "buggy style vehicle. It's all electric, it's purpose-built in that it was not a change from another vehicle. The other discussion we had was whether to build it for the masses or to make it what Venturi is known for, which is a high-end performance car. We still haven't come to a final decision on that, but it looks more like it's going to be something that's not exorbitantly expensive, but it also won't be cheap."

Pohill expects to hire several employees in the next month to assist with such things as marketing, engineering, finance and dealer development.

"Eventually I want to hire a younger staff, bring some of the OSU students in, and really create a small car company somewhere from 70 to 100 people," Pohill says.

In the next year, Venturi will complete regulatory work and testing of the America to ready it for production, Pohill predicts. "Within two years we'll launch it and get it out on the highway," he says.

But stay tuned: Pohill says the company plans to unveil a brand new car at the next Detroit Auto Show. And, eventually, there might be an elecric motorcycle in the works.

Source: John Pohill, Ventui North America
Writer: Gene Monteith

Engineering students start work on new generation of Buckeye Bullet

A team of Ohio State University engineering students has begun work on a new generation of electric car designed to push land speeds to at least 400 mph.

The team recently began aerodynamic simulations for the Buckeye Bullet 3, the successor to previous Buckeye Bullets that set electric vehicle land speed records. The team expects to complete the design process by the end of this summer, spend next academic year building and testing the vehicle and finally running it full-out at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats in fall of 2012.

The latest Buckeye Bullet represents a complete makeover from the Buckeye Bullet 2.5 -- which last year set an international electric vehicle record at 307 mph, says Carey Bork, a graduate student in mechanical engineering and the project's chief engineer.

"The Buckeye Bullet 2.5 that we actually set the record with last year was really a test vehicle," Bork says. "The intent has always been to build a brand new land speed record car from the gorund up. And really the difference between them is that the Buckeye Bullet 1 used nickel-metal hydride batteries, and the BB2.5 -- and also the new one that we're going to be building -- will use lithium ion."

Giorgio Rizzoni, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of OSU's Center for Automotive Research, says another big difference is that the Buckeye Bullet 3 will run with the assistance of "really high performance, high tech electric motors that are being custom designed and fabricated by Venturi (North America, a project partner). And in addition to that it's a brand new chassis."

The challenges of increasing speeds from the 300 mph to 400 mph range are too numerous to list, Bork says. But one challenge is that testing using wind tunnels or trial runs on Ohio tracks fall short.

"We never get to run these cars full speed until we get them out to the salt flats," Bork says. Additionally, when testing in wind tunnels "you have to have what's called a rolling road in which the surface that the vehicle is sitting on is rolling. That has a very important effect on aerodynamics. But there's no rolling road wind tunnel that can reach those speeds."

That's why the team is using the Ohio Supercomputer Center to run computational fluid dynamics to design and optimize the car, he says.

While the goal of the project is to set new land speed records for an electric car (while giving engineering students the kind of experience they would get nowhere else) it's possible that the Buckeye Bullet 3 -- if all goes as planned -- could break all land speed records for a wheel-driven vehicle.

"We don't want to go out there and guarantee that," Bork says. "It's a huge jump to go from 300 mph to challenging the all-out wheel-driven record. But, basically, that's not far away, and that's something we're keeping our eyes on."

Sources: Carey Bork and Giorgio Rizzoni, Ohio State University
Author: Gene Monteith

Heath-Newark-Licking Port Authority opens new office space, cleanroom facilities

Building a new 45,000 square-foot combination office and clean room building was a leap of faith that has paid off for the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority.

On July 13, the authority dedicated the building while the building's first tenant -- Goodrich Corp. -- cut the ribbon.

In fact, the port authority had Goodrich in mind when it decided in in October 2009 to authorize architectural and engineering work for the building -- all on spec, says Rick Platt, the port authority's president and CEO.

The port authority was created in 1995 to take over ownership of the Newark Air Force Base after it turned up on the base closure list. Since then, the authority has served as property owner and landlord to 17 contractors and subcontractors focused on guidance systems and metrology at the 350-acre Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center.

"Goodrich," says Platt, "came as a subcontractor, and they've been growing over the years. At one point they were in 15 different places on our campus. We knew we needed to do something to get them consolidated and get them into modern office space." Otherwise, he says, "we would have lost them."

While Goodrich had not yet agreed to a lease, the port authority proceeded with the new building -- dubbed the Horton Building -- just the same. The gamble paid off: Goodrich moved into the building's first floor one year to the day after construction started.

Remaining portions of the building are available for additional tenants, including a new 1,000-square-foot Class 10,000 clean room to go with the 250,000 square feet of clean room space now leased to Boeing. Platt says the new facility is the only clean room space available in central Ohio.

"It's a pretty narrow niche, but if you need it it's pretty hard to get."

Source: Rick Platt, Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority
Writer: Gene Monteith

Local entrepreneur hopes to begin manufacturing electric bikes in cleveland

 Benjamin Parris sees an innovative, cost effective way to get around town. He's promoting and selling electric bicycles through his company, F&E Electric Bikes. The bikes, which hit up to 18.6 miles per hour, are a step away from mopeds, but are classified as bicycles rather than motorized vehicles.

Parris got the idea to produce the bikes after spending some time in China, where the bikes are commonplace.

"They've been very popular in the past five to 10 years in China with the local farmers who need to get from village to village and transport food," explains Parris. "It's an ideal thing for them to use and affordable. When I came back to Cleveland, I said, 'Let's get rid of the parking problem and gas problem and learn something from the largest industrial nation in the world.'"

The bikes initially take five to six hours to charge using just a standard outlet, and then take about an hour to recharge. They go more than 20 miles on a single charge.

Parris has produced 10 bikes thus far and sold two at around $750 apiece. Additionally, he is donating two bikes to cancer charities. Currently the bikes are manufactured oversees. He hopes to start producing them in Ohio next year.

"By far they are the cheapest and only electric bikes that are around Cleveland," he says.

Source: Benjamin Parris
Writer: Karin Connelly

This story originally appeared in sister publication Fresh Water Cleveland.

Eluminator fills LED safety niche

Eluminator LLP started in 2002 to help a law-enforcement sales company develop a high-intensity LED light. When the sales company ran into financial difficulty, Eluminator decided to go it alone. 

Since then the Mansfield-based company has forged ahead with a product designed to improve safety on school buses and other vehicles. 

The light, which went to market in 2003, was originally used on speed trailers. Sold to law enforcement, it was shown to reduce the number of rear-end collisions and so-called "pass-bys" when used as an auxiliary stop light on school buses.

"Most pass-bys are caused by people not paying attention. You can see this white light miles away when it's flashing. In testing, in Alabama, the light reduced passbys from the front of the bus by 52 percent," says Cliff Broeder, company president.

"Ninety percent of the light's energy is concentrated in only 15 degrees, seven and a half degrees on either side of the center point," Broeder explains.

Other applications for the device include golf carts and railroad signals (where limited battery drain, extended use and extreme brightness are required), industrial and building lighting, and others. The company also makes brake lights and directional signal lights.

Eluminator, LLP is a Braintree Incubator tenant.

Source: Cliff Broeder, President, Eluminator, LLP
Writer: Patrick G. Mahoney

Engineers, Lady Gaga and a guy dancing in a chain-mail suit

Imagine seeing music converted into lightening. That's what you'll witness at a performance by Case Western Reserve University's Tesla Orchestra.

The group has the world's largest twin musical tesla coils. They're 13 feet tall and generate 13-to-18-feet-long lightening streaks to music that includes the theme from the movie "2001:A Space Odyssey" and songs by Lady Gaga, the B-52s and Girl Talk.

Ian Charnas, who received undergraduate degrees in computer engineering and mechanical engineering from Case in 2005, started the Tesla Orchestra in 2008.

"At schools offering engineering degrees, civil engineering students typically design a bridge, and mechanical engineering students design a car," he explains. "There wasn't a standard project for electrical engineering students. I thought this would be a cool electrical project with lots of facets and challenges to it that could also include mechanical engineering students."

Twenty undergraduate and graduate electrical and mechanical engineering students are involved in the Tesla Orchestra, as well as some alumni and staff.

Ed Burwell, the Sears Undergraduate Design Laboratory Director in Case's School of Engineering, provides guidance to the students.

Having both electrical engineering students and mechanical engineering students collaborate on this is important," he explains. "It gives electrical engineering students something unusual to work on with a lot of challenges they wouldn't experience with more mundane projects, and mechanical engineering students are solving problems that contribute to the form and function of the tesla coils. Students in both disciplines are getting valuable insights into real-world design."

The Tesla Orchestra performed in Croatia and the Netherlands last summer and recently entertained more than 600 fans at Cleveland's Masonic Auditorium. Through its new Open Spark Project, the Tesla Orchestra is inviting musicians everywhere to submit their songs to be performed.

Although Charnas has graduated from Case and runs a company that develops websites and i-phone apps, he is still very much involved in the Tesla Orchestra. "I interact and dance with the lightening in a full-body chain-mail suit during our concerts," he says, noting that the electricity goes through the chain mail suit and not through him. "Everyone needs a hobby," he remarks. "This is mine."

Sources: Ian Charnas, founder Tesla Orchestra, and Ed Burwell, Case Western Reserve University
Writer: Lynne Meyer

TechTol expands imaging capabilities with innovative 360-degree, 3D technologies

TechTol Imaging is building a business based on a faster, less expensive way to create 360-degree rotational and 3D imaging.

TechTol claims a patent-pending system which it calls "the first -- and only -- in the world that instantly captures and then creates 3D rotational images for use with any computer-based system."

TechTol's imaging studio and software can turn out 360-degree or 3D images in a matter of minutes or seconds, says Phil Cox, managing member and founder. More typical industry methods can take hours at best and weeks at worst because of time needed to edit, he says.

Rather than taking a series of photos as an object spins on a turntable -- the industry's standard aproach -- TechTol captures simultaneous images of a stationary object from multiple angles. Because all the photos are from the same moment in time, changes in expression or movement of limbs do not affect the quality of the final image -- thus vastly reducing the need for editing.

The company, which is headquartered on the Owens Community College's Toledo campus, recently rolled out 3DTOAD.com, an online image database designed to provide educational institutions with a vast number of 3D images when schools don't have the real thing on hand.

"Think of an example like a skull rotating that the instructor has control over in the classroom and can turn the skull around and point to different attributes and can teach from that," Cox says. "It also can be viewed by the student at home, so there's a variety of applications there that can be employed, and you can generate CDs that can be compatible with the course syllabus."

While education is the company's main focus -- it has been providing Owens with images and says it is nearing an agreement with Bowling Green State University -- it also provides 360-degree rotational and 3D web imaging for consumer products.

The company was formed in 2008 and was assisted early on by a $50,000 Ignite Grant from the Regional Growth Partnership's Rocket Ventures . The company, an LLC, has 13 partners who all contribute to the operations in some way, Cox says.

Sources: Phil Cox, managing member and Zak Ward, VP of visual operations, TechTol
Writer: Gene Monteith

French Oil Mill rides new markets as industry leader

Alfred W. French founded The French Oil Mill Machinery Company in 1900 to serve the linseed oil industry. The company's location in Piqua made sense: West central Ohio was a leading flax seed growing region, from which linseed oil is made. And those who processed the oil needed presses from which to extract the commodity.

While linseed oil is rarely found anymore, French is still going strong, thanks to innovative technologies that have branched out over the years to serve industries as diverse as the rubber and aerospace sectors.

Today, French makes screw presses to extract vegetable oil from seeds and nuts, screw presses for synthetic rubber and to separate solids and liquids, and screw presses and fiber presses for removing liquid from wood pulp fiber. The company also manufactures hydraulic presses for molding parts for a number of industries, including the medical and aerospace industries.

Tayte French Lutz, the company's marketing coordinator and a fourth-generation French, says the company is still growing, despite an off year in 2008. French hired 25 people last year, bringing employment in Piqua to 63.

"2008 was tough," she says, "but 2010 was an amazing year. 2011 is already looking to be an incredible year. Our sales for this year forecasted to be about 50 percent more than last year."

A more robust domestic business is also in the forecast.

"In 2010 about 70 percent of our business was exports and 30 percent domestic. For 2011 it's going to be about 50/50."

French has customers in more than 80 countries, and equipment on every continent but Antarctica. The company recently announced it would begin manufacturing operations in China to serve the oil seed and polymer industries there.

While the company tends to fly under most people's radar, French Lutz notes that some of our most common items may have been made with the help of a French machine.

"If you eat a potato chip, it's possible that the oil could have been pressed on a French press. If you're out playing golf, the inside of the golf ball could have been pressed on a French hydraulic press. There's just things in our everyday lives that our equipment could have touched."

Source: Tayte French Lutz, French Oil Mill Machinery Company
Writer: Gene Monteith

Automated Packaging Systems offers unique bubble-wrap-on-demand system

Kids love to jump on it. Adults pop it to relieve stress or boredom. "It" is bubble wrap, the plastic stuff with air-filled mini-pillows that's used in boxes and envelopes to cushion and protect the contents.

The folks at Automated Packaging Systems of Streetsboro knew that bubble wrap is popular for packaging. They also knew, however, that storing it is awkward and takes up a lot of space. So they decided to tackle those issues.

The result is the AirPouch FastWrap system, which the company introduced at Pack Expo in Chicago a few months ago.

Automated Packaging Systems' target markets for AirPouch FastWrap are manufacturing companies that ship their products in boxes, as well as mail-order fulfillment operations.

"While we're not the first company to introduce a bubble-wrap-on-demand system, ours is different in three important ways," Rempe says.

The system is unique with its combination of versatility to create cellular cushions or tubes with variable air pressure and a range of sizes, he explains.

"Variable air pressure can be helpful when fragile products require additional protection. The innovative honeycomb pattern on the wrap allows air to flow between individual cells. This provides uniform protection across the entire sheet, which makes it ideal for cross wrapping fragile products."

The system has EZ-Tear perforations every 10 inches on the wrapping and at every individual tube.

"This offers flexibility and speed in packaging," he notes. "It can also produce both cellular wrapping and tubes." Tubes are used for blocking and bracing in-box packaging.

The AirPouch FastWrap system is compact, measuring 20.5 inches long, 8.5 inches wide and14 inches high. It weighs just 35 pounds. "It's truly portable, doesn't require an air line and uses standard 120V electricity," Rempe says.

Source: Chris Rempe, Automated Packaging Systems
Writer: Lynne Meyer

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