It took years of research and development before Steve Hengsperger was able to bring his cleaning and sanitizing system to market, but now the Windsor-born product has a world-wide customer base.
Hengsperger, who is also Chief Executive Officer of sister company Advantage Engineering Inc., established Tersano Inc. in 2002 in order to fully develop and market an ozone-based system which turns ordinary tap water into a powerful sanitizing, deodorizing and cleaning agent.
“Ozone has been used as a disinfecting agent in water treatment plants for years,” explained Hengsperger. “We miniaturized it and developed patented technology which stretched out its life-cycle up to 24 hours.”
“Stabilized Aqueous Ozone (SAO) solution essentially replaces cleaning and sanitizing products by using regular tap water infused with ozone which not only cleans but kills up to 99.999% of the germs you would find on any surface,” he said.
Hengsperger said it also streamlines the cleaning process. All a client would need is virtually a single product to accomplish most of the cleaning tasks which typically required a dozen different cleaning agents.
The Lotus PRO Sanitizing System was launched in 2006 after approvals from the Canadian Standards Association and Underwriters Laboratory. The products Tersano manufactures are also regulated by the US EPA, Health Canada, NSF, FDA, USDA and many other global regulatory agencies.
Later that same year, Tersano was named one of 2006’s best inventions by Time Magazine.
In the early days, Hengsperger was selling between 500 and 600 units a week to consumers but after a 2007 appearance on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, a television show designed to showcase new products and inventions to a wider audience, sales jumped to more than 700 a day.
Now, with distribution centres in Canada, the United States, Latin America and Europe, the system is sold in virtually every country across the globe to customers in healthcare, hospitality, commercial office buildings, transportation and education.
Hengsperger declined to reveal sales figures but said that sales have increased four-fold in the past 12 months. Some of the increase can be attributed to COVID-19 cleaning protocols but a great deal of the increase is because of wider acceptance of the system.
In commercial and industrial settings, Hengsperger said the vast majority of clients simply bolt the unit to a wall in a janitor’s closet, hook it up to the cold water supply and then fill spray bottles, mop buckets and autoscrubbers for use around the building.
A smaller version – iClean Mini – can be used in residential settings and creates the solution instantaneously and on demand so it is always handy and ready to go for cleaning, sanitizing, and deodorizing.
Hengsperger, who has an engineering degree from the University of Waterloo, developed the SAO technology while working with industrial-strength chemicals. He realized that many of the chemicals he was using–and protected from by goggles and gloves–were found in many household cleaning agents.
“I brought a hygienist into my home to test the chemical levels under the kitchen sink and the levels went through the roof,” he said. “I decided right then to working on adapting existing ozone technology for cleaning, sanitizing, and deodorizing purposes.”
Clients now include most of the Fortune 500 companies around the world. Global rollouts are underway with companies like Microsoft, J&J, McDonald’s, Tetra Pak and many others. The iClean mini is currently available to consumers through digital marketing and social media platforms.
One of Tersano’s major clients is British Rail which uses the system to clean stations including King’s Cross in London U.K. and many others on the same commuter line. King’s Cross train station is where platform 9 ¾ from the famous Harry Potter series is located, and many of Tersano’s clients call the solution Harry Potter water, so very fitting to be cleaning that facility.
Others include some of the largest industrial and commercial cleaning companies in the world as well as large property management companies.
All of the large units are manufactured in Oldcastle, Ontario at the company’s plant on N. Tal. The smaller residential units are manufactured offshore.
“In some respects, we have stayed nice and quiet here in Windsor where not too many people know what we do and how many clients we supply across the world,” said Hengsperger.
Advantage Engineering, which was established in 1994 and operates from two adjoining plants on Regal, provides 3D printing, rapid prototyping, mold making and molding services to clients across North America.