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January 20, 2010Business Leader Magazine (February 2009)
Dan McKenzie and Charles Tricoli are out to do more than market a novel idea - they expect nothing short of a revolution. Their company, the Triad-based manufacturer of large pneumatic transport systems known as Memios, is changing the way people think about waste and may soon become the next utility.
McKenzie and Tricoli formally incorporated the business in 2000. After some deliberation, they settled on the name "Memios," an acronym for Memory Input Output Systems, referring to the computer memory used to control the input and output of the pipe networks that make up their pride and joy, a proprietary system that utilizes high speed air to move conventional waste (trash) from multiple homes, businesses and outdoor receptacles to one convenient and central location in a matter of seconds. No more hauling trash out to the curb. No more garbage containers taking up valuable real estate. No more garbage trucks in and around inhabitants.
The team chose the use of high speed air as the basis for their new enterprise for two reasons - first, there was a huge opportunity to use air to do work and the technology could be harnessed to move materials further and faster than any other method in existence. The Memios pneumatic system also accomplished another important goal - it allowed McKenzie and Tricoli to use the previous experience they had both acquired in the aerospace field to produce a significant positive impact on the environment.
It may seem odd that air-powered transport systems can make a real difference, but Memios offers irrefutable data. Waste trucks are the single biggest producer of vehicular exhaust on the planet, and the typical truck's performance can average 2.5 miles per gallon. By aggregating all of an area's garbage at a single point, Memios can eliminate much of the time that waste trucks spend on the road - which results in a huge reduction in the carbon footprint.
For McKenzie and Tricoli, it is also a question of modernity. Just as indoor plumbing replaced unsanitary and inefficient practices, the Memios revolution promises to bring waste into the 21st century.
The company's success has been astonishing - since its inception, it has doubled in both size and revenue every year, reaching the #2 spot in the global market in 2008. The Memios system outperforms its competitors using almost any metric in the book. The clear-cut advantage that Memios holds over its competition can be summed up in four words: simplicity, reliability, efficiency, and longevity.
The system can move the same amount of trash as its rivals, but at much lower costs. Each Memios system has a throughput capacity of 20 to 60 tons per 8 hour time period, at $2 per ton and at speeds of 70 mph. Employing their backgrounds in aerospace engineering, the Memios team has designed and developed systems that actively adjust the interior conditions of the pipe network to accommodate the highly fickle mass, weight, and density inherent in conventional waste . Longevity is also a major qualifier, since under ideal conditions, the Memios system's lifespan can be prolonged indefinitely by servicing and replacing its critical components.
In pitching the Memios system to a client, McKenzie and Tricoli can list a number of compelling reasons for installing one. The first is cost: the Memios product has an average return on investment of five years, after which the system's only expense is the electricity that powers it. Moreover, the cost of a typical installation is equivalent to three or four of the trucks that it replaces, making it particularly attractive to institutions that pay for their own infrastructure. In the case of several overseas installations, the network deposits the trash directly into processing facilities, eliminating the need for trucking entirely.
Another important benefit is hygiene: each loading point, both indoors and outdoors, is fabricated from easy-to-clean stainless steel or a powder coated receptacle. Not only does the system eliminate a typical source of household germs and odor, but the Memios electro-chemical oxidization (ECO) provides a self-cleaning solution for the system's network of pipes - one which uses no harmful chemicals and leaves no negative imprint on the environment.
Lastly, the system offers each resident the convenience of disposing of waste in an efficient, sanitary way - a process that Tricoli and McKenzie believe will become as common as indoor plumbing. Tricoli considers the company's biggest success to be its performance standards. Clients have achieved an explosion in productivity based solely on the elimination of labor once used for collecting and transporting waste with push carts. Because of its positive impact on environmental and sustainability issues, demand for Memios systems is cropping up in places as far away as Italy, China, and the Middle East. When potential customers arrive to discuss a purchase, the Memios team begins by showing them a side-by-side comparison with rival brands - most visitors are left flabbergasted by the performance gap.
In 2009, the company will be addressing a problem that has long plagued medical facilities: "red-bag waste," refuse that is chock-full of pathogens and other waste materials. Memios has developed a method, derived from its ECO cleaning process, that can purify such waste en route. Hospitals around the world are lining up for a first shot at the new technology, and it may be just a matter of time before the rest of us follow suit.