Senior Vice President Rick Gillespie says the soil and groundwater remediation product manufacturer is aiming for aggressive growth as the environmental spotlight shifts to PFAS contamination.
“REGENESIS has a unique story,” Gillespie says. “We were founded by a gentleman named Gavin Herbert. Gavin is the founder and chairman emeritus of Allergan Pharmaceuticals. He brought a lot of the things that made him successful in the pharmaceutical industry to REGENESIS, including a focus on technical credibility and developing industry-leading technologies.”
REGENESIS launched with the development of a technology known as oxygen release compound, or ORC. “It was the first commercially available product to slow release oxygen to treat petroleum hydrocarbons in situ,” Gillespie says. “But REGENESIS didn’t rest on that success. We’ve had a long track record of developing new technologies for a whole host of environmental challenges in soil and groundwater.”
Gillespie joined the company the 1999, drawn to the people and the culture REGENESIS has fostered since its inception. “Innovation and technical credibility were just part of the DNA,” he says. “And that’s the same reason I’m still here today. We’ve never lost the drive to develop new technologies and bring new solutions.”
Though still headquartered in San Clemente, REGENESIS has grown into a global business with operations throughout the U.S., United Kingdom, and Western Europe. The company’s remediation products are used around the globe, and most of them are manufactured in Nashville, Tennessee.
“We selected Nashville [for manufacturing] for its central location from the standpoint of distribution to all the major markets,” Gillespie says. “I think it’s like 70 percent of the population [of the U.S.] is within a one-day ship point of Nashville. There’s also abundant power, which is a requirement. And it’s also just a good place. Our employees have enjoyed being there.”
REGENESIS’ commitment to innovation extends beyond its extensive portfolio of soil and groundwater remediation technologies and products and into its manufacturing processes. “Our manufacturing group is staffed with PhD scientists that are constantly looking for ways to innovate how our production is done,” Gillespie says. “As an example, we invested early in automation, which allows us to manufacture 24 hours a day and seven days a week. And we’ve done it in a way that allows us to take advantage of off-peak energy time so we can run our facilities in a way that is most optimal from an energy utilization standpoint.”
Where and how are REGENESIS products used? “Since 1994, we’ve been involved with application at over 30,000 sites worldwide,” Gillespie says. “Without getting bogged down in the technology speak of it, we really focus on aerobic degradation, chemical oxidation, in situ chemical reduction, and utilize colloidal carbon for capturing contaminants.”
Manufacturing facilities are a common site for the application of REGENSIS technologies. “That can be anything from chemical manufacturing, consumer products, aerospace, transportation, really any type of manufacturing facility that utilizes chemicals as part of the process,” Gillespie explains. “Those legacy sites often have had some sort of environmental issue that needs to be addressed. We work a lot on those from Fortune 500 all the way down to individual site owners. It’s a big area for us.”
REGENESIS products are also used on Department of Defense sites. “The Army, Air Force, Navy,” Gillespie continues. “Generally, within those facilities, there are former fire training areas, former landfills, and underground storage tanks that may have leaked from operations.”
And finally, REGENESIS remediation technologies are often used on “petroleum hydrocarbon sites,” Gillespie says. “That ranges from everything from corner gas stations all the way to upstream facilities. So, bulk storage facilities, processing, really anyone that may containerize or store petroleum hydrocarbons and had a release over time.”
Challenges: “This will sound cliché, but our company really tries to see the opportunities in the challenges,” Gillespie says. “I think that’s because innovation is such a part of who we are. Challenges are usually just an unmet need that is waiting to be solved, and our track record of innovation on those types of challenges serve us well.”
That said, Gillespie notes that the environmental industry as a whole faces a challenge of where to invest resources in the clean up of contaminated sites. He points specifically to PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a complex group of synthetic chemicals that have been found in water, air, fish, and soil around the world.
“PFAS is an emerging contaminant,” he continues. “It’s in the news a lot, and rightfully so. PFAS chemicals are everywhere. There are some estimates that there may be up to 40,000 PFAS-contaminated sites in the U.S. alone. The industry needs to protect against PFAS, starting with sites where people are being exposed to contaminated drinking water. That should be the highest priority. And then for the remaining PFAS sites, we really have to deploy cost-effective solutions that mitigate risk by limiting exposure. PlumeStop, our colloidal activate carbon technology, is being widely deployed for this.”
Opportunities: Gillespie says that REGENESIS has been profitable every year since 1994, and though he cannot share specific numbers, the company has doubled in size over the last seven years. “We have aggressive growth targets and a strategy to expand our global footprint,” he adds.
Where will that growth come from? PFAS treatment is one of several big opportunities, and Gillespie notes that the EPA is expected to release regulatory guidance for the forever chemicals sometime this year. “We expect that to grow demand for our cost-effective, sustainable solutions for PFAS treatment — that’s PlumeStop and SourceStop.”
The company also expects significant growth in demand for the advanced composite membranes it manufactures in its Land Science division for the vapor intrusion mitigation market. “That [market includes] everything from large logistical warehouses to multifamily housing to quick-service restaurants,” Gillespie explains. “We take a lot of pride in that part of our business. By using our composite barriers, people are able to redevelop former brownfield sites and former contaminated properties to bring them into beneficial use.”
Needs: Gillespie says the industry as a whole, including REGENESIS, is in need of people. “We’re always looking for talented people,” he continues. “We’re unique in the industry in that we hire engineers and scientists, folks with technical backgrounds, and look to identify people that have that experience and also have a heart for innovation.”