It has been a year since the Ebola crisis hit Dallas and thrust little-known Fort Worth startup E-Mist Innovations into the national spotlight.
The company, launched with help from the Tech Fort Worth business incubator, had just come to market with a new electrostatically charged sprayer gun to disinfect surfaces and was in the right place at the right time. Images of the company’s product being used at the apartment of Ebola victim Thomas Duncan made national news, and sales took off.
Today, fear of Ebola has faded, but business remains strong for E-Mist, which recently introduced a new portable version of its cleaning system. The Advanced Surface Management System can be worn as backpack and packs more power, allowing it to cover bigger areas faster, CEO George Robertson said.
Ebola turned out to be more of a marketing event for E-Mist than a market itself, he said.
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“It got us on the map and brought awareness to the marketplace about the spread of diseases,” including MRSA, Robertson said.
While the company landed leads on sales to several west African nations where the Ebola crisis was concentrated, most never closed because of funding problems in those countries, he said.
Instead, E-Mist’s biggest markets have become janitorial services, followed by food transportation and nursing homes and hospitals. American Airlines continues to show interest in the company’s product for cleaning airplanes, Robertson said, including the new portable system.
The company is on target to ship about 2,500 units in 2015 and has added a second manufacturer in Plano so it can produce as many as 2,000 units a month, he said. This week it hopes to drum up more business when it attends the International Sanitation and Safety Association convention in Las Vegas, expected to draw 16,000 attendees from 40 countries.
“We’re confident that we’re going to ramp up,” Robertson said.
Breaking bread in Dallas
Amon G. Carter Sr. likely rolled over in his grave Tuesday.
Carter was famously known for taking a sack lunch to Dallas whenever he had business meetings east of Fort Worth so he didn’t have to spend money in the rival city. So he might have been shocked at recent remarks from the mayor of his beloved city.
“The old joke that Fort Worthians packed a sack lunch to Dallas — that just isn’t the case anymore,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said at a Dallas/Fort Worth Airport luncheon Tuesday.
Price was on stage with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings discussing the importance of the airport and efforts by local leaders to market the region to international tourists and businesses. The mayors both sit on the DFW Airport board and have made several trips together to Europe, Australia and China to promote the Metroplex and DFW Airport.
The love fest between the mayors continued when Rawlings said that he enjoyed working with Price and that “I feel like I’m a Fort Worth citizen.”
Carter would definitely not recognize these two as leaders of Fort Worth and Dallas.