GSB News and Notes: 3 Innovative Companies Become Green-Sports All Stars


One of my favorite parts of any Green Sports Alliance Summit—I’ve attended four—is to walk the exhibit floors to see the start-ups, post start-ups and growth companies that are helping to build the Green Sports movement. A month ago in Houston, finding innovative companies whose stories were worth telling was easy; the challenge was choosing only three to highlight. The chosen three are PathoSans, an environmentally-responsible cleaning product that is produced on-site (i.e. at arenas, stadiums), Recover Brands, an apparel company that aspires to produce the most environmentally friendly and socially responsible products possible, and TREDAGAIN, the first upcycled tire shoe.

“If I was playing in the NBA today, I would go to my team management and demand that our arena be cleaned by PathoSans! I need to be protected in the locker room from bacteria and other disease agents. And the team should do it as they have huge sums of money invested in the players. It’s cleaner, safer and less expensive.”
So said NBA Hall of Famer and PathoSans spokesperson Rick Barry at the PathoSans booth in Houston.
I was intrigued. OK, I got the notion that locker rooms (and, as Barry enthusiastically pointed out, “every building of any type!”) harbor germs, bacteria, mold and viruses. I also know there are environmentally friendly cleaning products out there. The question I wanted to have answered was: What is the PathoSans “special sauce”? Is there a special sauce?
Richard Kampas, a distributor for PathoSans (and other “green cleaning” products), based in Syracuse, NY, who manned the booth with Barry, took that on.

Rick Barry (l), PathoSans spokesperson, and Richard Kampas, PathoSans distributor. (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)

“PathoSans is the greenest cleaning product I’ve ever come across, as well as the most effective,” said Kampas, “It is easily made and mixed on-site, which dramatically lowers its carbon footprint as the transportation goes close to zero and, since it uses a refillable dispenser, there’s no container disposal. These savings are passed on to the customer so it’s also low cost, with savings as much as 90% vs. the competition—most green cleaning products cost $4/gallon while PathoSans costs 30¢/gallon.”
According to Barry, the sporting venues that have switched to PathoSans are now PathoSans evangelists: “The Facilities Manager at the Yum Center [home of University of Louisville basketball] told me that ‘in 20 years in the business, I’ve never seen a better product.’ We got a similar reaction from his counterpart at the Consol Center in Pittsburgh [home of the 2016 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins].”
Despite having a product with what seems like several significant competitive advantages, Barry seemed antsy.
Because the conversion rate by arenas, stadiums and other public buildings isn’t going fast enough to suit him or Kampas. More Rick Barry: “Look, the facilities industry is 80% reactive/20% proactive. Meaning they react to a disaster like MRSA or E Coli. Then they’ll consider switching. Well we need to change that to 50-50. And the way we do that is education, education, education. And that’s why we’re here at the GSA, to educate teams and venues to the opportunity to improve their bottom line, their environmental friendliness and, perhaps their team. Because study after study shows a healthy environment leads to better performance.”
And the final word goes to Rick Kampas: “I’ve been a distributor in upstate New York in the green cleaning space for the last 10 years. PathoSans is such a breakthrough product on performance and on carbon footprint that I’m focusing all of my attention on it.
Statistics are the lifeblood of many sports fans, especially in this Fantasy Sports era. So here are some interesting numbers provided me by Bill Johnston, President and Co-Founder of Recover Sustainable Apparel and Ron Hawk, National Accounts Director for Drive, the exclusive distributor for Recover:

  • 100%: All Recover Brand apparel is made from 100% recycled materials.
  • 95%: The percentage of Recover Brands business that is B-to-B. Non-sports corporate partners include Sierra Nevada and National Geographic.
  • 8: The number of plastic (PET) bottles in every Recover Brand shirt.
  • 9X: The amount of water the Recover Brand manufacturing process saves vs. conventionally dyed shirts.
  • 50%: Year-over-year growth rate for the six-year old Charlotte, NC based company.
  • 1: The company’s lone retail store is in Charlotte.

The best selling items are 50% recycled PET, 50% recycled cotton scrap. “That combination makes the product unique in terms of color and softness.” Recover Brands also sells a 100% recycled PET line that, at the end of life, can easily be put back into the supply chain or be upcycled into something else.
Recover NBA Green

Recover Brand NBA Green t-shirt to celebrate NBA Green Week. (Photo credit: Julia Steele)

Sports, says Johnston, represents “10-15% of total sales and we’re looking to grow that number dramatically. Our first big sports involvement was a New York Yankees promotional item we made on behalf of Yankees sponsor BASF.” Added Hawk, “This is only our second year at the GSA Summit and we expect the connections we make here to help us build our sports business for our t-shirts, hoodies, and polos.”

Ron Hawk of Drive (l) and Bill Johnston (r) of Recover Brands at the Green Sports Alliance in Houston (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)

165 miles due west of Houston sits the capital, not only of Texas, but of Green Texas. That would be Austin, home of a burgeoning green startup culture. An example of that culture was on display at the GSA with TREDAGAIN, a startup born at Earth Day Texas 2015 that upcycles tire rubber into shoes.
As TREDAGAIN Head of Operations Ilya Kuperman tells it, “TREDAGAIN’s mission is to leave a better footprint than when we started. We do this by upcycling tires in a unique chemical process that was developed to create APX, a new rubber compound by sister company Austin Rubber. Basically the process ‘unbakes’ the tire rubber into a reusable virgin rubber substitute, which then can be ‘re-baked’ into a molded rubber product like shoe outsoles.”

Ilya Kuperman (l), Head of Operations, and Sam Drew, Logistical and Customer Success Coordinator for TredAgain. (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)

The first TREDAGAIN product is a flip flop line; urban rain boots will launch this fall. TREDAGAIN has moved all manufacturing to the Americas and is looking to have products Made in the USA soon. Rapid growth is expected, said Kuperman, as 2017 will see “the launch of 15+ womens shoe styles and 10 mens styles.” That growth is incubated by Green Source Holdings is an Austin based company that builds and invests in sustainable businesses and technologies.
Tred Again Red Sandal - downtown austin

TREDAGAIN’s flip flop, made from upcycled tires, with hometown Austin, TX skyline in the background. (Photo credit: TREDAGAIN)

The motor sports world is a ready supplier of TREDAGAIN raw materials: tire rubber. “We know there are great partnership opportunities with NASCAR, Formula 1, and Moto GP. And, it’s clear through their research that many motor sports fans are interested in green products.”

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