Brighton firm capitalizes on near disaster
Remember the Miracle on the Hudson? Everybody recalls that day in January, 2009, when Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his U.S. Airways jet safely in the Hudson River, in the heart of New York City, after birds got sucked into the engine upon takeoff.
But Joe Miskovich might be the only person who has been able to use Sullenberger’s challenge to help his business. His Brighton, Mich.-based Triton Stormwater Solutions builds underground water-retention and –management systems across the United States and around the world.
They help alleviate airliner “bird strikes” by allowing airports to meet the stormwater mandates without building water-retention ponds on the premises, which harbor geese and other fowl that aren’t compatible with the intakes of airline engines.
“We’re getting more and more inquiries about how we can help meet the stormwater standards mandated for airports and get rid of the potential hazards of these open ponds which attract large birds and geese ,” said the 41-year-old Miskovich.
Many other large building projects also have requirements for on-premises management of stormwater runoff, such as retail developments and apartment complexes. Triton makes and installs underground “chamber systems” out of environmentally friendly reinforced soy resins material that makes their products 10 times stronger than other like products while it is less expensive and provides a safer alternative to traditional retention ponds and other underground systems.
The first step to install the Triton system is to dig a trench, install a layer of crushed stone at the bottom of the trench and then install the individual chambers – which range up to 36 inches tall by 59 inches wide – like interlocking Lincoln logs, then the chambers are backfilled with crushed stone or recycled concrete to create an underground water-retention system that allows the water to slowly infiltrate back through the stone base and the soil column or it can be reused for irrigation purposes. Many of the systems can be as large as several football fields depending on the requirements. To view some of Triton’s installations please visit this website link: http://www.tritonsws.com/video
The company has grown steadily since its founding in 2007 and now employs 45 people.
Miskovich was an auto-industry design engineer when he leapt into this business. He encountered a water-runoff problem with his own house and, when he tried to solve it using other underground products Miskovich was told that they would not work because of issues like they cannot be maintained and that the strength of the products were questionable. That is when Miskovich relying on his design engineering background designed a system that addressed all these issues and formed Triton Stormwater Solutions.
“I saw where the auto industry was going,” he recalled. “And when I had the [runoff] problem with my house, that’s when the light bulb went off. I knew that with my background I could make a better product.”
Miskovich raised money from family members, investors and friends by presenting them with detailed, data-driven investment presentations about his plans for Triton and how they addressed new government regulations and other dynamics that were shaping the market.
He brought in civil engineers to attest to the direction of the marketplace. He made the same presentation to potential manufacturing partners. “It’s pretty easy to see where the market was going and the merits of my approach,” Miskovich said. “We can live much longer without oil than we can without water.”
Miskovich is happy that he has been able to build Triton quickly and steadily in the area. “You look at the talent and the engineering and manufacturing capabilities in Michigan, and – though we’ve taken it on the chin – you’d be hard-pressed to find that level of talent and capability anywhere else,” he said. “In order for Michigan to get back on its feet it is vital for those business that are still here to band together and do business together so we can show the rest of country how innovative and progressive Michigan is by implementing state of art products to solve very serious issues along with water runoff and water shortage issues in our communities and around the world”.
Triton Stormwater Solutions founder's stormwater problems spurred invention
When Joe Miskovich moved into a new house five years ago, he quickly realized he had a drainage problem when a torrential downpour wreaked havoc on his property.
“It looked like someone was pouring chocolate milk into my lake,” he said.
Miskovich, an automotive engineer at the time, decided against looking into existing commercial stormwater management systems. Instead, he designed his own.
In August 2007, Miskovich’s new company, Triton Stormwater Solutions, started selling his new stormwater management system. The Brighton-based firm has completed 16 commercial projects and 10 residential projects.
Miskovich’s engineering background with local auto suppliers such as Hella North America gave him the experience necessary to design his new system.
It’s the kind of entrepreneurial transition that Michigan is hoping its strong base of engineers can make.
“It really didn’t matter if I was making a stormwater chamber or if I was making an accelerator pedal or a truck bed box,” he said. “It really doesn’t matter as long as you know what the parameters need to be and what is required of the product in the field.”
Triton is supported by a sales team in Brighton with a manufacturing operation in Ohio. Miskovich declined to reveal revenue figures, but one published report indicated the figure could reach $1 million over a 12-month period. Miskovich said he’s expecting growth of between 20 percent to 25 percent this year.
Miskovich started experimenting with a new design for his system after experiencing his own run-off problems. Over the course of three years, he developed a system that stores water in underground chambers, which allow collected water to seep through the ground in a controlled process. His system – which costs about $5 per installed cubic foot – eliminates the need for retention ponds.
Retention ponds offer a cheap option to developers of commercial or residential projects. But Miskovich said the cost of cleaning retention ponds every five years can range from $5,000 to $25,000 per acre. The added cost of yearly maintenance activities and the ponds’ cultivation of mosquitoes are additional reasons to reconsider retention ponds, he said.
The stormwater chambers are delivered to project contractors, which handle the actual installation.
Miskovich said he decided it was important to develop environmentally friendly products. His stormwater chambers “use a soy resin to offset the petroleum that’s in our product.”
“That way our price is more stable,” he said. “It’s less expensive and it’s not tied to the fluctuation in the price of oil.”
Triton Stormwater Solutions Achieves Carbon Neutral Certification
Eco-friendly company provides up to 18 LEED points due to reduced energy costs and CO2 emissions
BRIGHTON, MICH. – July 29, 2008 – Triton Stormwater Solutions (Triton), a manufacturer of eco-friendly and highly efficient stormwater chambers, has been approved as a carbon neutral product through third party certification.“At Triton we want to be environmental leaders and take stormwater production to a whole new level,” explains Joe Miskovich, president, Triton Stormwater Solutions. “Reusing stormwater itself is a strong environmental effort, but what good is it if you are producing it in a factory that is emitting more greenhouse gasses and that your product adds more to the problem than to the solution? You’re just trading one environmental concern for another. “
The cradle-to-consumer life cycle study showed that the total co2 reduction by using the Triton system provided a 15-30% reduction in Energy/Greenhouse gas year after year. The carbon neutral certification gives Triton products an additional two LEED points, the U.S. Green Building Council’s nationally-accepted benchmark for green building, bringing the potential points for using a Triton product up to 18 points.
“This certification will help companies like Wal-Mart and Lowe’s, which have accepted Triton as an approved product for contractors and engineers, to become even more environmentally friendly,” explains Miskovich.
In addition to being a good corporate citizen, there are business advantages for property owners as well. States such as California are mandating the need for companies to reduce co2 emissions and energy needs by using carbon neutral products such as Triton and to not exceed their carbon credit allotment. In addition, Triton is now registered as a federally approved green carbon neutral product and approved for use in all government owned or leased buildings and properties.
To obtain certification, Triton underwent a complete life cycle analysis per ISO 14044:2006 standards in which the certification team went through every facet of the manufacturing process from the farming of the soy bean used to harvest the soy oil to the manufacturing of the raw material into the product all the way to the energy used to ship and install it to how the end user will use the finished product itself.
“This product was one of the best products I’ve seen,” says Mike Dolkowski, president of Carbon Credit Environmental Services, which tested the product. “The Triton material itself is made out of bio-plastics not petroleum. It takes less time to install so it uses less of the diesel construction equipment that emits greenhouse gas. It can be carried by two people rather than a machine. Once installed, the system itself is used to collect water and reuse it to water plants or flush toilets, saving energy by not sending water to a wastewater treatment plant. This product actually improves its carbon footprint.”
Carbon Credit Environmental Services is part of a growing trend towards companies monitoring their carbon footprint and offsetting co2 emissions to utilize monies for environmentally-friendly projects. Last year, the company helped the Detroit Lions football team hold a carbon neutral game by calculating the emissions from all activities that went into making the stadium active for the game, ranging from the team traveling to the site to the electricity used to power the concession stands. The team offset that emission by doing an offstudy to plant trees in Ecuador to reforest the rainforest.
About Triton Stormwater Solutions
Established in 2007 and headquartered in Brighton, Mich., Triton Stormwater Solutions manufactures the next generation of stormwater chamber management systems. In virtually every metric that matters to developers, municipal planners and engineers, Triton’s stormwater chambers offer greater advantages and design flexibility over traditional systems. Triton’s proprietary design and patented construction offers larger-capacity, lighter-weight, easier-to-install stormwater chambers that are more than 50 percent stronger than traditional products. Triton is also environmentally friendly, manufacturing materials from the same soy-based resin that has been in use for more than 50 years in the heavy equipment and automotive industries. For more information, please visit www.tritonsws.com