Saturday, July 30, 2005

Nice words from the Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune ran a nice piece about our work today.

I've told most every reporter that's ever asked about our work that throwing away oil seems idiotic when people are dying for the stuff. Jon Van was the first one to ever use it.

I also try to credit my Dad as often as I can but Jon got it just a bit mixed up. My Dad's patents are in ion exchange which is way smarter stuff than I know about. He's a real engineer. I just play one on TV.

Also, if you've read any previous posts, you'd know that my biz partner and co-founder Dave, is not a media friendly kind of guy. However, I was worried that the story focused on me too much and didn't use Dave's name. I was a little nervous calling him. When I started to tell Dave that I'd used his name about a million times in the interviews, he interrupted me right away. Dammit Rick, he said, didn't I tell you not to do that?

Pure Dave. However, he got what he wanted. I want to re-acknowledge out loud that this enterprise began life as a two person start up. Just don’t tell Dave I told you.

Chicago Tribune
Published July 30, 2005

Rick Terrien exudes both humility and enthusiasm when discussing his company's accomplishments.

Terrien, president of Universal Separators Inc. in Streator, Ill., addresses problems of contaminated oil and coolant fluids that are common to the manufacturing process.

"It's a big problem in the dark, back corners of manufacturing plants," said Terrien.

Normal procedure is for plants to shut down equipment, drain contaminated oils and coolant fluids, and pay someone to take them away for disposal. This costs money for new oil and coolant and lost production time, and it is an environmental burden.

Universal Separators makes equipment that skims off the top layer of liquid, transports it to a tank where contaminants settle out of the fluids, and then enables operators to recycle the clean fluids.

"It works by gravity," Terrien said. "It's not really high tech, but it does work like a mechanical kidney outside the fluid tubs."

Using some technology patented by his father, Terrien started the privately held Universal Separators in 1998. He's been spreading the word about recycling fluids ever since.

"A lot of people think that environmental stuff is just a frill, but it's not," said Terrien. "It's a core competency. I use job loss as an argument. A manufacturer needs to be as smart about the details as he can to remain competitive.

"Pollution is really just resources in the wrong place. It doesn't make sense to be throwing oil away--people are dying for that stuff. Recycling is ultimately a bean-counter thing."

Terrien's devotion to recycling was rewarded recently when the National Society of Professional Engineers recognized Universal Separators' technology with an award for small-business product of the year. The honor included acknowledgement from Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of Chrysler Group, of Universal Separators' technology.

"That really felt good, to have a big corporate executive take time out to recognize a contribution our tiny company makes toward improving the industry," said Terrien. "It's nice to be noticed."

Chicago Tribune. July 30, 2005. This story is now in the Chicago Tribune archives.

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