EarthSafe: A company on the move.

Categories: Innovations, Trends & Technology, Member Profiles

By Graeme Golucki | April 8, 2020 << Back to Articles EarthSafe: A company on the move.

EarthSafe Chemical Alternatives was launched in 2014 by co-founders Richard J. (RJ) Valentine and Jeremiah Gray.

A serial entrepreneur and savvy investor, Valentine has brought more than a dozen companies to market. A passionate auto racer, Valentine is driven to bring transformative change and safer standards to whatever sector he interacts with.

Gray is a long-time proponent of environmentally friendly technologies with a strong background in financial management and private equity. The two pooled their talents and played upon their matching passions to address the need for safer chemical solutions, forming EarthSafe. Currently, Valentine serves as the company’s CEO, while Gray is its chief operating officer.

One of the first products EarthSafe developed was a bit out of the traditional jansan orbit. The Braintree, Massachusetts-based company got its start developing a mold redemption solution for the U.S. Navy’s Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. The Navy then came to EarthSafe with the dilemma of how to clean and disinfect nuclear submarines without using harsh chemicals. EarthSafe was tasked with developing a safer acid replacement that was strong enough to neutralize norovirus and other threats to sailors’ health.

“Our early work for the Navy was a real launching pad for our move to provide the janitorial space with chemical alternatives,” Gray said. “We set out to develop safer, more sustainable solutions for cleaning and disinfecting that ultimately would promote better health and safety standards for the general public. Our goal was to transform the cleaning industry to focus more on preventative measures as opposed to an outbreak response approach that has been the default plan for decades.”

Electrostatic entrepreneurs

With the goal of engineering safer and more efficient chemical alternatives, EarthSafe eventually developed its EvaClean line of infection prevention solutions. The company not only developed powerful sanitizing and disinfecting products based on advanced electrostatic sprayer technologies, but also pioneered a complete infection prevention standard aimed at improving public health and enhancing cleaning professionals’ efficiency.

In addition to having innovative technology, the company’s relative youth in an established cleaning industry aided in its quick growth.

“As we’ve educated ourselves about the cleaning industry over the past couple of years, we sometimes find the market is lagging behind in adoption of new technology to not even be more efficient, but more responsible in the way they use chemicals,” Gray said. “As a newer, growing company compared to entrenched players with set business models, we have the ability to adapt on the fly. This has provided us an advantage that gives us consumer-focused solutions that are valuable for every participant in the cleaning space.”

According to Gray, by coming to the industry with a more entrepreneurial feel and independent leadership, EarthSafe has been able to quickly grow its product offerings and client portfolio in a relatively short amount of time.

“In many ways, electrostatic is disruptive technology and EarthSafe is fortunate to be pioneers in that space in terms of tech that will lead the industry into the future,” he said. “Not being accountable to a shareholder-driven model where we need to ship as many chemicals as possible lets us take a step back and focus on developing the best products and most streamlined protocols, resulting in lower chemical usage per square foot but better results based on our systems. All of this combines well with our main drive of delivering cleaning professionals the tools for better, more safer facilities, and promoting more responsible chemical usage worldwide.”

Showcasing solutions

Within a few years of launching its EvaClean technology, Gray and his team at EarthSafe were soon looking for more avenues to showcase its solutions, leading the company to join ISSA in 2016.

“ISSA is an industry leader in setting standards for the cleaning industry to gravitate in the future,” Gray said. “For us, it was almost not a choice, especially considering the way the association’s focus on certification and regulated educational programs align with our roots in safety and standards.”

In addition to the association’s standards and educational programs, Gray also found ISSA’s annual trade show integral in getting the word out on EarthSafe’s technology.

“I first attended the ISSA North America trade show in 2016 and I found it a phenomenal venue to showcase innovation, the place to be if you want to be on the international stage,” Gray said. “Walking the show floor for the first time, you realize very quickly cleaning is one of those fundamental things that turns the gears and allows everything to happen after the fact, be it health care, corporate offices, hospitality, or food service.”

Gray was wowed by the breadth of products and services on display on the show floor that seamlessly keep the world turning. “We spend a lot of time talking about the unsung heroes – school custodians, housekeepers, environmental service technicians,” he said.

“You don’t necessarily notice all the cleaning industry provides until it is not there, and the system breaks down, like when there is a flu outbreak. I was widely impressed the first time I stepped on the ISSA show floor. It made me think that not only was cleaning industry exciting, but poised for a lot of change – new tech, like robotics, AI, data collection tools, are going to transform how we maintain our facilities going forward and be beneficial to all of us in the long run.”

Efficient evolution

Gray and his team at EarthSafe refuse to remain stagnant and continue to evolve, encouraged by the latest advancements. “I really do feel that technologies like robotics or electrostatics are going to be as transformative to the cleaning industry as they have been to other sectors,” Gray said.

“Our core business is keeping people healthier and these new developments make workers more efficient. Facility managers can then use that time saved to be more proactive in cleaning protocols and stay ahead of pandemics instead of being reactive.”

One field Gray sees as becoming more prominent in the cleaning industry is data collection and analysis.

“At EarthSafe, our team is really excited to be driving better cleaning standards based on data and user feedback,” Gray said. “With economical and practical environmental monitoring programs and future sensor-based tracking technologies, you gain valuable insight into a cleaner’s performance and adherence to best practices throughout a facility and manage that data for optimal effectiveness. Instead of simply guessing on why infection rates change, managers can pinpoint the source and develop an action plan. The net effect is every facilities manager and cleaning company is going to be more empowered than before to be actionable in keeping people healthier as opposed to having to guess on solutions.”

While some front-end cleaners worry that emerging technologies like electronic monitoring, robotics, and IoT advances might one day render their jobs obsolete, Gray sees the opposite when it comes to the industry’s future.

“One of the biggest things that has resonated with EarthSafe as we work with our customers is sometimes tech makes people fearful,” he said. “We’re not out to replace the human element in the process. The average housekeeper or environmental service technician is one of the greatest resources a facility has. Our role at EarthSafe is to increase their output and make them an even more valuable part of the team. We want to shine the spotlight on the unsung heroes. There’s a lot of great people in jansan that don’t get the credit they deserve. Our industry has a lot of potential that we can rally around to do more to make the world a safer and healthier place.”

About the Author.

Graeme Golucki is ISSA's digital strategy editor and can be reached at [email protected].com; phone, 800-225-4772 (North America) and 847-982-0800.