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Transcript: Space4U podcast, Brad Poorman & Jim Hind

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

Hello. And thank you for listening to the Space4U podcast, where we tell the stories of, and have conversations with the people who continue to drive the space economy and make space exploration possible. My name is Kelly Kedis-Ogborn. And today I’m talking with Clean Textile Technology, which provides space-age tech for smart gear.

 

Their company is Space Certified through the Space Foundation and has a myriad of applications from clothing, outdoor gear, bedding, and footwear. Joining me for today’s podcast is Brad Poorman, who’s the CEO and owner, and Jim Hind, who’s the chief operating officer and also an owner. I am very excited to have you both join me for today’s conversation and a fun fact for our listeners, Brad and Jim had actually known each other for a very long time.

 

They were fraternity brothers together at Washington and Lee over 40 years ago. And curious, um, did you ever envision going into business with each other years later? No, no, definitely. Definitely not. We’ve kept up with each other though, involved in some other textile industries. And so was I, and we kind of kept up with each other’s career paths, but never, uh, we’d had the fortunate enough to get to work together.

 

We’ve been working together now since about 2004. That’s great. Well, it’s very fortuitous that your paths crossed again. So as a starting point, and since this is a space podcast, I’d like to begin by talking a bit about your origin story. So I know that your company uses a coding and particle technology that was developed by NASA to reduce the heat buildup of the station as it passes through atmospheres.

 

Can you expand a little bit more upon that technology and then tell us how you transferred it for application here on Earth. Sure. So the, the material is actually using the science that the emissivity and we came into contact with one of the world renowned scientists of emissivity Dr. Oliver at MSU.

 

And we asked him about applications going into textiles, particularly people out in the sun to reduce temperatures. So they wouldn’t have that buildup from the sun. And then also conversely in cold weather having another type of high emissivity application where we could actually keep people warmer longer.

 

And so when we first saw the technology and started to learn about it from Dr. Oliver, we were just fascinated with all the applications, not only in apparel, but also into bedding and industrial uses that we figured would be very lucrative and very large opportunities. And what would you say is the biggest problem that you solve here on Earth?

 

Using an emissivity as a base? One of the, the things that everybody’s looking for is warmth with less weight and in a lot of people that are doing high activity out tour climbing and skiing and things like that. They’re always trying to control that temperature, the microclimate inside their garments. And so one of the big things is, is if you overheat, you start to sweat.

 

And then for instance, if you’re going up on the chair chairlift, you get cold because that wet pulls away from your dry insulation. So by using our materials, it’s really reacting more to your body heat. And so by doing that, it can actually keep you warmer longer, and you’re not going to build up that huge amount of sweat.

 

And even if you do, you still are using your body to keep warm. That’s really interesting. And how did you even get into this business to begin with or know that this technology existed and could be used for the application you use it? We were at a, a large apparel manufacturer. And the person Dr. Oliver had been in there the day before, and they really talking about the materials, but didn’t have any clue as to how to get it into fibers.

 

And quite frankly, was working on some very large projects in the petrochemical industry and didn’t have the time. So we were very fortuitous in being at the right place at the right time. And God has information and Jim lives off of Lake Norman. So we scheduled a trip up there to just talk to him and see how it worked and whether there were applications in our industry.

 

And were the applications immediately obvious once you found out about the technology or was there a bit of trial and error and figuring out the right way to use it? Well, the application was obvious, but as Jim will tell you, putting the materials into fibers that are smaller than, than a strand of hair.

 

Was very difficult to do. It took us numerous iterations and struggles to get that product right. And up until probably about three months ago, we finally have been able to make continuously about 30 tons of material. So that we can start going after, you know, large brands with the product that’s yes. So, as Brad mentioned, the challenge was integrating the, the emissivity that asset technology into textile manufacturing processes.

 

You’ve got them sometimes trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, and you have to make some modifications and some temperature changes and some process changes to make it work. So we went through a lot of trial and error and a lot of experimentation till we, now we finally have a strong commercial product.

 

I want to talk a little bit about this trial and error that you mentioned, because I know for a lot of companies, you know, taking. One technology for one application use and moving it into another can produce some challenging and frustrating, but also somewhat comical stories in hindsight. So is there anything that really stands out in your mind that was a hurdle or obstacle that you uncovered that now looking back, you can laugh about.

 

Well, we don’t really laugh, but we had about three machines that we did a lot of damage to because you know, these particles can agglomerate. And when they do it shuts machines down and with a past technology, we had actually caught a machine on fire. So we were ready for some, some pretty big knowledges and doing what we do.

 

But because Jim and I are somewhat nimble and we’ve had experiences trying to do new things. We realized that it was going to take a little bit longer and, and it wasn’t as easy as people fought. So it was really the perseverance because we’ve been in other brand new greenfield ideas that we kept going at it, you know, larger companies would have given up pretty quickly.

 

Yeah. But you had the along enough lead way to be able to figure it out and get it right. And to, to trial and error essentially. Exactly. So switching a bit more into your client base. Is there a particular client story that excites you or inspires you? Yeah, I think the big one is a brand-new internet company.

 

That’s launching into the hunting market where they’re really trying to build the best gear. And one of our first commercial items was a $1,500 juice, ski jacket. And we really liked it. Not because it was a lot of volume for us. But it was really, you know, showing that this cutting-edge technology can be used efficiently and effectively.

 

And so our goal is to always try to start at the very top of the pyramid in making the best product. Because once we do that, we realize that a consumer is going to have a very good experience and then we can make other products where we go down the pyramid a little bit more and get into, you know, larger volumes.

 

Okay. So for the hunting gear, it would, what is it? Is it like base layers and gloves or what kind of stuff would be used for the hunting domain? Exactly. So they’re using our materials and base layers to keep you warmer longer. And then we also have a waterproof insert where we put the materials inside the insert and that insert has a moisture vapor rate of about 75,000, which is probably about double any product in the marketplace and keeping your hands dry or your extremities.

 

Is so important because your feet and your hands are what get cold first. And so we’re pretty excited about that application. And we also had gotten that same product into a couple of the mountaineering companies who really liked it. And, you know, we’ve sampled a whole bunch of ski industry customers. I can absolutely resonate with that.

 

I’m a skier. And whenever my toes and my fingertips get cold, it’s definitely when I have to go into warm up, even if the rest of my body isn’t, that is the first thing to go. And it’s miserable after that point, countless focus groups that Jim and I have been through in our career consumer believes that technologies can solve some of these issues and you’re paying a lot of money to be out on the slopes.

 

And you don’t want to cut off a couple hours. So the value of staying dry and warm, but something that people will pay money for, but also they’ll tell their friends about it when they have a good experience. So that’s how we really think that our company is going to grow. That’s great. Yeah. I, I absolutely believe that.

 

Cause I did the switch between mittens and gloves and inserts and trying to figure out the right combo. And I still don’t think I’ve cracked the code. So I should probably look for some gear that’s lined with your technology.

 

Thank you. I appreciate that. So I think an important lesson for any entrepreneur to learn and that they have learned is that even with the best preparation, unexpected things still happen in your company’s journey. So has your product performed in a way for a client that you didn’t expect either on the positive side or the negative side?

 

Yeah. Some of our first products were being tested by marks outdoor warehouse, and they provide a lot of products into the fracking industry and a lot of people that spend and work outdoors and they came back and told us that they had found a research Institute that actually could measure. Emissivity and that’s what Jim and I have been looking for to enable us to tell our story, to show the difference, you know, with them, without our materials into a fabric.

 

And so that was just something that came out of left field about two years ago. And Shannon Yani found this too. She was the engineer that found it. And it’s really helped us because now we can actually show test results about how much heat absorption our materials can actually absorb and be able to tell the story and also satisfy the lawyers when they have to write in, you know, the stamp of approval that there is an increase in heat retention.

 

That’s interesting. And I’m curious, how does your technology work through the different laundering process of clothing? So I imagine that, you know, a lot of outdoor gear gets pretty dirty and people need to keep it clean and just your washing machine cycles. So is there a sort of a shelf life on how long this lasts within the articles of clothing it’s put in?

 

Or is it somewhat indefinitely when we put it in the yarn it’s in there for the life of the product, because it’s actually embedded in the yarn. So it’s not going to wash out or wear out. When we print it onto materials, we always test it out 30 to 40 launderings. And the idea is, is that the materials on the surface are what is interacting with the infrared heat.

 

So even if you wash off a little bit of the material, there’s more material behind it. So it’s sort of like planned obsolescence. We’re putting more on need, but then some of it’s washing off and all these materials that we’re using, you know, are actually environmentally friendly. So there’s no problem with any of it being washed out and into the groundwater.

 

That’s great. So I want to switch gears slightly if you’ll indulge me and play a hypothetical game. So if all barriers and constraints were removed, are there any projects that you would pursue now and why would you pursue them? I think one of them, since I live in Florida now versus Boulder, Colorado.

 

What I see on the beach is a lot of people starting to wear long sleeve shirts and no matter what, you’re going to be hot on the beach, but at the same time, you know, your shirt picks up a lot of extra heat versus your skin. And so one of the things that Jim and I have been playing with is how we can load these shirts up.

 

So you say cooler out in the sun, you’re protected from the sun. We’re using materials that are sort of similar to sunblock. And initially we were all thinking that the big head is in the athletic arena. But what we’re finding is, is that just last year, there was a 450% increase of people looking for sun protective clothing because of the epidemic of skin cancer and things like that.

 

And down here, just like the people in Australia, people are looking for this type of gear. And I think that versus when we were young and we were using cotton that would get wet and go down to a five UPF, if you can keep things up in the 30 above the 30 range, I think there’s some real value for those type of products.

 

I agree. I grew up in Southern California and the versatility of clothing like that beyond just rash guards. Right. Which aren’t the most comfortable and are somewhat encumbering would be really, really beneficial for people. Yeah. And I’ve already had like a, almost a quarter size piece of skin removed and I’ll tell you what, I’m very cognizant now of when I go outside.

 

And that was, that was on my chest. So I always surfed a lot growing up in Brazil. And I didn’t realize that, you know, I was wearing shirts that had zero protection, even though they protected my chest from rubbing on the wax and the sand that was on the surfboard. Um, it wasn’t protecting me from the sun.

 

That’s a really good point. Does your fabric also have application with flame retardant type uses? It does. It’s one of those things though, Jim made up a bunch of product in that arena. And what we learned pretty quickly was it was a very slow industry just because of all the federal testing and all the testing that has to get involved.

 

And so we’ve pushed that one aside a little bit while we’re building the business and in the area that, you know, we’re getting a lot of demand for the product, but we feel like, particularly for firefighters, anything that’s going to disperse that heat or make it more comfortable for them as they’re doing their jobs.

 

You know, there’s huge value. It’s just that it’s going to take a lot of testing and going to the training centers and having firefighters use the product. So it’s a pretty long trip and we’re just not there yet. Absolutely application or the ability to apply something and actual market penetration are two different things.

 

You’ve just got my mind spinning a little bit, because thinking about how your technology is literally in the fabric of clothing, it could apply to a lot of different areas. It’s just whether that’s a good business case and whether there’s a market for it. Yep. So bringing it back to reality and present day.

 

So we’ll move out of the hypothetical, but what are you most curious about right now? And this can be product-wise. This could be technological evolution. It’s somewhat of an open-ended question. I think, I think that, um, you know, we talked about the outdoor clothing, the firefighters and the, uh, the athletic and the active, I think, you know how we can get our apparel into everyday wear to make it more comfortable every day.

 

That’s a challenge for us. There’s still with the global warming and the wide temperature swings and everything. Having apparel that makes everybody work every day is it could be a big plus. And the more we can integrate into the larger market and help people just like you and me every day is exciting for us like to tackle next on that vein.

 

Is it that avenue or are you looking for something else as your next entry point? Right now we have a big opportunity and denim jeans, which is beginners and everyday product. We have first coming to market as a Jean that will keep you warmer, uh, using our technology. And then we should follow it up in a couple of seasons with a jeans cooler.

 

So that’s one of the things that, you know, just every everyday apparel that people can have, there’ll be more comfortable and at a, at a relatively achievable price. Yeah. And the, the market for jeans, there’s 5 billion pairs of jeans sold a year. Absolutely. Pretty, pretty unbelievable. And for a whole bunch of use cases, right.

 

From everyday workers to fashion, it’s not, it’s like a, yeah, correct. Um, yeah. Work wear and things like that. I mean, it’s, they have flame retardant, blue jeans and, you know, people were using it for fracking, but there’s also blue jeans used for hunting where they’re putting activated carbon on it, you know, to keep down the scent.

 

And there’s all sorts of, uh, different applications within the denim market. That’s very exciting. Congratulations on that. I definitely want to be on the lookout for that press release when you’re able to announce it in more depth, correct? Because of the brands are very well-known brand gets into the non-disclosure we have with it, it comes to market, but they need to lodge at first.

 

Then we can be on the coattails. That’s fair. That’s fair. So we won’t, we won’t expose it on today’s podcast.

 

The follow-up podcast I’ll hold you to that. We’ll definitely do that into the future. Where do you envision your company to be 10 years from now? Well, um, yeah, I think Brian and I really enjoy it and we were both of the mind that we, you know, we stuck it out. We’ve been through a lot, a lot of ups and downs.

 

We’re definitely on an upswing now. And I think we both agree, like to stay involved in some way, integrate into a, you know, an investor group or some large textile mills where we really go global with the technology. I think it’s kind of our thought process. And one of the. Good things about our relationship, right?

 

And as we kind of been on the same page about that the whole time, and we stay on the same page and if, and if our kids don’t start behaving, they’re going to get dragged into the business as well. Yeah.

 

Moving on to the last question. And it’s my favorite question to ask, because I firmly believe that people are limited in their own knowledge sets, but what should I have asked you that I didn’t know to ask. Well, getting back to the principle of the emissivity that we talked about at first, one of the things that’s interesting is that Albert Einstein actually died writing a paper on emissivity.

 

It’s an intriguing concept of between absorption and reflection that’s been around for a while since Einstein initially proposed it. And then NASA took it one step further and actually put it into practice almost all the space shuttles. And then, you know, it’s, it’s fairly say simple, but the root of the technology is not to use a fun rocket science, but because NASA was able to take some basic principles and elements of nature.

 

And put it on the, on the space shuttle, and then other companies will take it into other technologies that we’ll do apparel in the construction business. People are using low emissivity or low E glass. To reflect heat out of buildings and saving energy. And then on the other side of the spectrum, you know, everything from petrochemicals and, and solar panels are using emissivity as well to try to manage the heat and produce energy more efficiently.

 

So there’s just a, a myriad of applications of the technology. In different areas, industrial areas, and also in energy areas. And so it’s something that’s growing because people are realizing that, you know, even baking bread, they can do it more efficiently by how they capture and reflect and absorb heat within these, those baking up.

 

Interesting. And if I remember correctly, the term Trizar is the formation of emissivity that you use as the basis of your technology, is that correct? Name? It, because we were thinking that it had three different types of applications that it was going to present three values back to the consumer, but it was sort of trying to modernize the name.

 

So it was more like a Kevlar-type, space-age name. It was sort of a blended name that we came up with that we were just thought it would be something that would catch people’s attention. Got it. I wanted to clarify that point for any of our listeners that come and look you guys up online. Cause Trizar is very prominent on your website.

 

So just understanding what that meant. That’s great. Well, Brad and Jim, I really appreciate your time today. I’ve certainly enjoyed our conversation and I’ve learned a lot about emissivity more than I thought that I ever would. So I really thank you for your time and for anybody that is listening, that wants to look you up.

 

What’s the best way to get in touch with you or your product? Our website is trizartechnology.com. And there’s contacts in that. And it also gives a lot of background and some of the stuff that we’re doing and more recent stuff like O’Neal snowboard jackets, and even TV commercials that are being done over in Korea with one of our partners as well.

 

So it’s starting to grow, so that’ll be pretty exciting. That’s great. Well, thank you again for your time. We really appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you, Kelly. And with that today’s podcast comes to a close. As always, thank you for listening and keep your eyes open for more Space4U episodes by checking out our social media outlets on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and you can always catch us on our website at www.space foundation.org.

 

Thanks again for listening and we’ll catch you next time.


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Space4U Podcast: Brad Poorman and Jim Hind — Clean Textile Technology