Since Steve Parker and a group of investors took over Coco Products in 2015, business has increased about 20 percent, largely as a result of adding products to the company's lines of CocoAbsorb and CocoDry absorbents.
The company's patented manufacturing process allows the coconut fiber its products are made from to encapsulate and retain hazardous fluids of varying viscosities and will not leach or release them back into the environment.
"It floats on water because it absorbs hydrocarbons, encapsulates them and pushes water out," says co-owner Richard Schornack, Parker's nephew and the company's head of sales. "After time, it breaks down to neutral."
CocoAbsorb works well on oils, chemicals, paint, and grease. It absorbs up to nine times its weight in any liquid spill, which makes for a fast and easy cleanup. CocoDry is a natural paint hardener for all types of acrylic, oil-based and water-based paints. The products are organic, non-abrasive and non-carcinogenic. "Other products may cause lung issues, so their labels say you have to wear masks," Schornack says.
Schornack says his company's products are cheaper than others because they go farther and cleanup is faster. It also works when it's wet, which other absorbents such as clay don't. "It will even absorb radiator fluid," he says.
Coco Products serves a variety of industries, including oil and gas; emergency response; marine; aviation; automotive; mining; and waste management companies such as Waste Management and Republic Services. The city of San Diego is using the company's products, which have been approved by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, for oil absorption and cleanup.
Since the new ownership group took over in 2015, the business has grown by about 20 percent, mainly through beefing up its product line.
The company recently invested $40,000 in new machinery that processes and packages its products. The investment is expected to help Coco Products speed up production so it can keep up with the increase the company has seen in its business.
Challenges: While working with municipalities and states is among the biggest opportunities for Coco Products, it's also among the biggest challenges because the absorbent is a one-of-a-kind product, Schornack says. "You need three other products to compete with, which is virtually impossible to do," he says. "We have to go through other companies that already have contracts with the city so they can show it to them. It makes it difficult, but I made it work. Signing up as a vendor is a waste of time."
Opportunities: Schornack says the opportunities for Coco Products are unlimited because the company can work with cities, states, fire departments and waste disposal services to absorb spills of all types.
Canada also is an enormous opportunity because CocoAbsorb has been certified under the country's ECOLOGO Program, which indicates that a product has undergone rigorous scientific testing, exhaustive auditing or both, to prove its compliance with stringent, third-party, environmental-performance standards.
Needs: Coco Products needs more exposure and for more people to be educated about the product, says Schornack, noting that the product usually sells itself after people use it. "Once they try it, nine times out of 10, they buy it."