Buying a house is a significant endeavor. Besides moving your furniture in, new paint and decoration to make a home out of the house, there are those unforeseen issues that inevitably pop up.
When the founder of ProSkim bought a home in Connecticut, he had no idea that he would soon embark on an adventure to create an environmentally friendly pond cleaner. All because he bought a house. Unfortunately, two months after moving in, the once pristine pond was covered in watermeal, a tiny plant that can quickly coat the surface of a pond with a soft, green vegetation.
After a slew of research, it was soon discovered that the most common solution to removing the floating weeds was to use herbicides. Many pond owners rely on chemical treatments; however, these chemicals are expensive, require state and local permits, and have to be applied annually. Most troubling of all, the safety data sheets for these compounds revealed that dumping herbicides into a pond 50 feet from a well could be harmful to the environment and the local groundwater - because of this, aquatic herbicides are banned in most of the rest of the world outside the United States. The cost of treating a one-acre pond legally with chemicals is about $2,000 or more per year and can pump hazardous manmade chemicals into local ecosystems. Clearly, there had to be a better way.
Out of the desire to legally and safely clear the beautiful pond of these floating aquatic weeds, ProSkim was created. The early prototypes were wooden, clunky contraptions. Gasoline-powered and electric pumps were tested, and while the units would suck up weeds, each new prototype revealed yet another problem to be addressed. After several years of research and testing, these many problems were resolved and a working proof of concept was in place, but the size needed to be reduced so it was easier to manufacture. This was a long and arduous process: more building of prototypes, transporting them, driving them down to the pond, unloading them, putting on waders, getting the unit into the water, testing it, identifying problems, getting the unit out of the pond and back into the garage, and working on it again.
Over time, the unit became relatively easy to manufacture and could be shipped on a standard pallet. With the help of an industrial designer, the unit was then converted into a mold to form ten plastic prototypes. After another year of extensive testing, and slight modifications, ProSkim committed to purchase full production tooling for use in a thermoforming factory, and did an initial run of 50 units for 2004. The initial goal of producing a very robust, professional grade product that would last for years had been realized. ProSkim was then introduced at various trade shows, and the company eventually forged an alliance with Audubon International, a leader in environmental education. ProSkim then decided to dedicate part of each sale to Audubon, and to encourage Audubon’s membership to consider a green alternative to watercourses.
By 2007 ProSkim had worked out and streamlined many manufacturing details and switched to a better pump, partially made in Taiwan. (Every other part of the ProSkimmer is made in the U.S.A.) This new pump was more powerful, lighter weight, and was available in voltages which would allow ProSkim to reach a world market. System tweaks followed, including a new configuration for the flotation foam. Finally, after a decade of hard work, ProSkim was ready for wide release. Requiring few modifications since then, it has over the past decade years offered pond owners a clean and simple alternative to annual chemical treatments.
ProSkim is now widely accepted in Canada as there is little access to aquatic herbicides. Where there is access, in Ontario, for example, there are strict guidelines around the uses and how to apply such chemicals. Even some states within the US, including Washington, impose additional constraints on their use. There’s a clear correlation between the use of chemical solutions and water pollution. Luckily, the ProSkimmer System gives pond owners a clean and simple alternative to the use of aquatic herbicides, and savvy pond owners realize that the upfront investment in a ProSkimmer System is a far greater value than purchasing and applying chemicals year after year. ProSkim remains a case study in the start up of an environmental manufacturing business dedicated to production in the U.S. and solving the increasing problems of clean water in an evolving world.
For more information on ProSkim, please visit www.proskim.com.