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A Billion Dollar Corporation... That's CLEANING Water?

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
September 9, 2022 3:20 am

A Billion Dollar Corporation... That's CLEANING Water?

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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September 9, 2022 3:20 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Manny Singh, President of Koch Membrane Systems, had a childhood that shaped how he sees water. Then he joined a company that has reshaped how he sees innovation. He's not afraid to literally get dirty and strives to see how waste can create value.

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Lee Habeeb

INTRO MUSIC That's K-O-C-H Industries dot com. And today, Ravi brings us the story of Mani Singh.

This is K-O-C-H Industries dot com. Even now, 65 to 70 percent of India's wastewater isn't treated. In 1995, Mani moved his family from India to North America. After studying and working in Toronto, he eventually settled down in the United States.

Emotionally, it's much more in the developed countries, just because more resources are available. On the very first day when I joined work, I came in a suit and a tie and my supervisor said, we are going to do research on wastewater treatment. Let's go to one of the wastewater plants. And there we were doing a pilot study which required filling up a pilot with buckets of wastewater. So I saw the engineers taking the buckets and getting their hands dirty and filling the pilot. And these are nasty wastewater stuff. And I was here in a suit and tie and obviously I also jumped and took my tie off and took those buckets and started filling a pilot tank with wastewater. So that was a first day, I shouldn't say shock, but realization that it's a slightly different environment. If I was back in India, the chances are there will be like five people there sitting and waiting and they will do all this work.

But the fact that I got my hands dirty made me grow in a much better way. In 2011, Mani joined Koch Membrane Systems, where he now serves as the president. So in order to put in perspective the magnitude of problems we have, I want to share two examples. One of them is the fact that there are more cell phones than number of toilets in the world right now.

If you think about that for a minute and how the priorities can sometimes be misaligned. And the impact of that is kind of in the second fact, which is every two minutes or so, a child dies because of water-related issues. Koch Membrane's vision is a filtration for a better future. And we develop membrane-based solutions to address water and wastewater problems. The membrane is like a sophisticated filter. Think about a hollow straw with millions of holes in it. And each hole is like a thousand times smaller than a human hair. And that's what membrane is. So it's such a small, tiny holes.

And that allows a clean water to go through, but keeps all the nasty stuff away because the holes are so small, so nothing passes through. Brazil had a pretty serious water shortage. There was no rainfall lowering the level of reservoirs there.

And those levels were like at about 10 percent of what their normal level was. So it was a very, very challenging situation. It's a very congested area, so there's not a lot of room for expanding the water or wastewater treatment plants. So whatever technology had to be implemented to solve this problem, it had to be compact. It had to fit in the existing footprint that they have. So we put a system there where we took the existing wastewater treatment plant and retrofitted that with membrane systems.

So by doing that, that particular site was able to get five to six times more flow without expanding their footprint. If in a conventional system they can treat a million gallons per day, the chances are if you put a membrane system there, then the same footprint can treat anywhere between let's say four to ten times the flow rate of, which is like four to ten million gallons per day now instead of one million gallons per day. We also provide membrane solutions for wine filtration, beer filtration and juice and a number of other industries. If you open up your fridge and take orange juice, there's a high likelihood that that orange juice was filtered using coke membranes. Juice which has pulp, it has to have a consistent amount of pulp. So what they would normally do is take membranes, filter it, either that's pulp free juice which is filtered using membranes or if it has to have a certain amount of pulp, they will mix pulp with that filtered juice so that it's very consistent. I don't think anybody wants to drink too much pulp on one day and the next day they open and then it's a little pulp. So that quality control consistency is required and membranes help to give that consistent clean pulp which can either be shipped as is or it can be blended with controlled pulp. There's a lot of projects and a lot of success using membranes to make fine wine.

Beer filtration is the next one coming up. How do we get beer quality to go up? How do you maintain the foam on top of the beer? How long does the foam last?

It's pretty amazing. What is the value to customer when they are looking at these products which we kind of sometimes take granted. We just drink beer. We don't really think about what goes behind that. How long does the foam last on the beer?

Is it five seconds or is it seven seconds? How can we develop membranes which does not remove the components which are helping the quality of beer and which removes the component which is hurting the quality of beer. It was pretty interesting when I joined Coke I had a certain mindset. In my first six months or so we were developing a new technology and I was talking to David Coke at that time and I thought that I want some investment to make two or three pilots and each pilot can be like a hundred thousand dollar machine and I went to David and said hey I want this three four hundred thousand dollars to build this pilot so we can test this new technology at these places and right away like within two minutes he said no we should be building ten pilots and it was a complete opposite discussion. Normally I would expect I go and justify why I need this money and provide all the background calculations but here it was opposite and I was trying to say hey do we really need ten but that was the mindset shift which I think is how can we do things quickly how can we invest more in the money so we can generate that value that we are trying to create as quickly as possible. Being a private company does allow us certain I guess benefits where we are not held by short term expectations of our shareholders so in a public company every quarter somebody has to go out and tell how much money did they make and a lot of decisions that are made can be influenced by that share price or whatever the expectations are from our shareholders but as a private company I think that's the one big value I found after joining Coke that everything that we were doing was focused on creating long term value for our customers.

Coke invests 90% of its earnings back into business. I find it really motivating and I think sometimes that can be misunderstood on what we do at Coke. I really believe that we have to have passion in everything that we do. This is what drives me to work every day. It's something that keeps me motivated. I've got two sons and when I go home and tell them what we do we are solving a real problem in the world. We are creating value which is very easy to understand and that kind of drives me and motivates me to keep going. And great job on that piece Ravi and you were listening to Manny Singh, President of Coke Membrane Systems and you heard it from him, the passion there in everything we do. Our Opportunity America series sponsored by Coke Industries, Manny Singh's story, here on Our American Stories.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-17 18:41:36 / 2023-02-17 18:45:01 / 3

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