The Ebola outbreak may have eased, but the momentum it created for E-Mist Innovations continues.
The Fort Worth company had just begun selling its electrostatically charged sprayer guns, designed to disinfect surfaces, when the nation’s first Ebola case was confirmed in Dallas in October and the company’s product was used by cleaning crews at the victim’s apartment.
Images of the sprayer gun made national news, and orders for the company’s Touch Point Healthy Surface Management System started pouring in. By the end of the year, the company had sold or licensed more than 500 of the systems, said George Robertson, chief executive officer. This year, E-Mist expects to ship at least 2,500.
Overseas, the company has solidified deals with the governments of Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea, with each committing to buy 500 units. The West African nations connected with E-Mist after the product was featured on CNN.
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At home, the company has sold about 50 units to the Creative Solutions in Healthcare nursing home chain, based in Fort Worth, Robertson said. It’s pursuing a number of markets including hospitals, EMS crews, school districts, day care centers and fitness centers. It has even made a presentation to American Airlines, which is considering using the sprayer to clean airplanes.
“We want to strike while the iron is hot,” Robertson said. He said that while the Ebola crisis peaked and slowed quickly, “it gave us recognition.”
The company, launched with help from the Tech Fort Worth business incubator and funding from the Cowtown Angels investors group, has been adding to its sales team and now has 12 employees. The products are being made by QFC Plastics in Arlington, which is expanding production capacity.
In the U.S., the company licenses the devices to users for a monthly fee, which includes maintenance and upgrades.
Fort Worth staffers say they’ve found a master developer to help them with several vacant parcels along Lancaster Avenue on the south end of downtown that were left vacant when Interstate 30 was moved.
Jay Chapa, director of the city’s Housing and Economic Development Department, said the name of the developer and their plans will be presented to the City Council on Feb. 3. The announcement comes about a year after the staff began its search.
The property is on the north side of Lancaster, from Commerce to Lamar streets. The city has owned the land for a decade.
Chapa declined to name the developer but last week told a city board that development will likely happen from west to east. The larger tracts are on the west end of Lancaster, he said.
The city and the developer are working out sticking points, including how to hook into Oncor’s electric delivery system downtown.
The master developer will design, build, finance and manage the project. Whatever is built will have to fit in with the corridor’s historic features, a 130-unit apartment project that will begin soon, and planned changes at the Water Gardens.
The city has been revisiting a 2000 Water Gardens design plan that calls for opening access to the Water Gardens from Lancaster. Downtown Fort Worth Inc.’s strategic action plan also calls for better using the Water Gardens property.
Improved landscaping for the Lancaster Avenue median is also in the works.
“At some point in time, Lancaster is going to truly be a part of our downtown,” said Councilman Jungus Jordan, who chairs the Lancaster Avenue Tax Increment Finance District. The TIF board last week heard preliminary reports on the Water Gardens and the landscaping plans.
“We’ve built a walkable community that no one is walking,” he said.