The Silicon Review
We believe that our technology will have an influence in minimizing the environmental impact of our current and future generations: Foster Coulson
Water savings can be achieved in industry through a combination of changing behaviour, modifying and/or replacing equipment with water-saving equipment to reduce overall water consumption and increase internal reuse. To assure the strategies, optimise water and minimise costs, it is important to assess current water use and set goals.
Water is essential for humanity to live and thrive. Yet, millions of gallons are wasted each year on industrial cleaning applications across industries (as of 1999, industrial water use accounted for 5-10percentof global freshwater withdrawals). As water consumption is being recognized as a global environmental threat, a new technology has emerged poised to change the industrial cleaning industry.
Coulson Ice Blast Ltd is a manufacturer of industrial cleaning equipment that uses regular crushed ice cubes as a blast media. The technology is analogous to sandblasting but using ice instead of sand. Coulson’s ice blasting technology is a safe and cost-effective alternative to dry ice blasting, abrasive blasting, pressure washing, etc.
The company was incorporated in 2016 and is headquartered in Port Alberni, British Columbia.
Interview Excerpt: Foster Coulson, Co-Founder
Why was the company set up?
The origin of the Coulson Group of Companies is a history of logging in British Columbia since the 1930s. After serving in World War 2, Cliff Coulson returned to his roots in British Columbia, Canada where he began working in the Forest Industry in 1934. After working various jobs in the industry, Cliff founded Coulson Forest Products Ltd. in 1960. Under the leadership of Cliff’s son, Wayne Coulson, what was once a small logging company has evolved into a conglomerate of companies working in a variety of industries including aviation, lumber manufacturing, logging, and gaming.
Now, alongside his two sons, Britton and Foster, The Coulson Group of Companies has continued to diversified and grow into various new businesses in new markets.
What kinds of responses have you received from your consumers over the years? How have they motivated you to shape your offerings/grow the company?
We have been really lucky that companies in the industry, or looking for solutions, have grasped onto our technology’s advantages almost immediately. Cleaning contractors are quickly running up against problems they can’t solve with their current set of tools, and so, from the start, they have been an incredible excitement and adoption surrounding our technology.
Industrial cleaning is a multi-billion dollar industry that has so many different applications, each with their own challenges. Companies often come to us to solve problems that we could never before have imagined existed. Every time we face something new, we work with the customer to develop a process that works best for that application. Sometimes that means developing a new accessory, while other times it’s a matter of using the right combination of existing accessory and blast method. But always, by learning more about how our technology fits into a new industry, we learn more about our own product and how to expand its capabilities.
About adaptability, how do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this high volatile market?
The thing about industrial cleaning is that the market has not been that volatile. Before we entered it, there hadn’t been much innovation for 60 years. Coming into this industry, it was very apparent that industrial cleaning equipment manufacturers just offered the same products since their establishment. Perhaps they packaged it differently over the year or made new claims, but the reality was that customers were using the same tools.
But this status quo was fast becoming difficult to hold onto, as environmental, health and safety regulations increase. Sandblasting and chemical cleaning has been banned from many applications, due to its impact on worker health. As water becomes scarcer in many areas, pressure washing companies are meeting with steeper fines.
Therefore, we’ve jumped into the market with the right product at the right time. There is a real need for a safer and more environmentally friendly product. The ease and inexpensive cost helps too.
But regardless, we are always innovating to tackle tougher cleaning problems and creating new accessories and products to make it easier for clients to fit our technology into their established or un-established processes. We constantly work to broaden the range of what our technology is capable of and make it as easy as possible for the client to use.
Customer service varies, but companies can still be successful. How do you maintain your customers’ trust and loyalty?
It’s actually quite simple when a company makes an effort and values their users and partners. We’re always available to support our customers and every call is treated with the highest level of importance. I care about every detail or issue a user or partner has with my technology, both good and bad because if they have trusted my company to provide them with a product, their experience matters to me.
What are the factors that make your brand most ‘innovative’, and why?
Considering industrial cleaning is a multi-billion dollar industry, it’s been incredibly slow to innovate. For 60 years, there hasn’t really been a new blast cleaning technology. My company is bringing a fresh and new approach to this industry by creating innovative, great technology, with an equal focus on the ascetics.
We launched IceStorm90 in February last year and it quickly became tremendously popular. The product was named ‘One of the 100 most technologically significant new products of 2017’ by R&D Mag. Now, just over a year later, in June 2018, we are launching a new generation of IceStorm90; redefining the industry again by adding in new capabilities to cover an even wider range of applications of the market.
It was an honour to be recognized by the R&D awards. It really is an acknowledgement that shows it’s not the size of the company or where it is located that matters, but being able to dream big and having the courage to pursue that dream and make it a reality.
Fostering a culture of feedback is crucial to the success of every organization. How is this true with your company?
Coming out with a new technology, customers have always wanted us to succeed just as much as we have. Today, we work with the biggest and most recognizable companies in the world, they are coming to us because nothing else is working and they are looking for a cost-effective solution. Our point of view has always been that the customer is king and we’re just there to help them and give them the best tool for their job.
As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
The exact same thing we are doing now, innovating and disrupting to create great products that change the way we clean the world.
Foster Coulson, Co-Founder: A Brief Background
Foster Coulson is the younger of Wayne’s two sons. Since Foster was a boy, he was always fascinated by trees and forests and had a deep, abiding love for the environment.
In 2007 after graduating high school, Foster started in his family’s business in the logging operation and soon moved into lumber manufacturing. In 2010, Foster started an engineered wood manufacturing facility; creating environmentally friendly siding products which are currently sold through major building products retailers in North America.
Foster saw the possibilities of using regular ice for cleaning by a company called Universal Ice Blast, who developed the early iteration units that were plagued with problems, which ultimately lead to their bankruptcy in 2002. After assembling an engineering team in 2016 to realize his vision of what he believed the industry needed, Foster officially launched Coulson Ice Blast in 2017 with the release of the IceStorm90.