CLEAN TECH STOCK
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With One Technology Now in the Marketplace for Water Remediation, Creating Good Water out of Wastewater While Creating Products for Reuse and Another Technology that will Allow You to Remove Smokestacks from Coal Plants that is Progressing to Commercialization, ThermoEnergy Corporation is Well Positioned for Future Growth
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Founded in 1988,
ThermoEnergy Corporation (OTCBB: TMEN) is a diversified technologies company
engaged in the worldwide development, sales and commercialization of
patented and/or proprietary municipal and industrial wastewater treatment
and power generation technologies. Additional information on the Company and
its technologies can be found on its website at www.thermoenergy.com.
Mr. Bullock has written and spoken extensively on energy and cleantech and has received numerous honors in the field. He has been a member of Business Week’s Energy & Environment Council (2007-8). In 2001, he was named one of the 50 top IT managers in the energy industry by Pratts Energy. In 2002 and 2007, Mr. Bullock was a finalist for the Ernst & Young New England Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2000, he was named one of the 100 most influential individuals in the gas and electric business in the 20th century by Harts Energy Markets in their special Century of Power retrospective on the industry for his contributions to the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol which defined methods of assessing energy savings for performance contracting (DOE, December 1997).
Companies where Bullock was a principal, founder and/or senior executive have also received numerous awards including Artemis Project™ Top 50 Water Company (Castion 2010), AlwaysOn Northeast Top 100 Companies, (GreenFuel 2008); SBANE’s New England Innovation Award (Finalist) (GreenFuel, 2007); Red Herring Top 100, recognizing the top private and publicly held companies (Excelergy: 2001, 2002, 2003, GreenFuel: 2006); Platts Energy, Global award for “Emissions Energy Project of the Year”, jointly with Arizona Public Service (GreenFuel: 2006) for project making biodiesel and ethanol from power plant emissions; American Society for Competitiveness (ASC), Medallion for “Energy Business Competitiveness through Financial Prowess and Global Environmental and Technology Leadership in Industrial Power Markets” (Greenfuel: 2005, 2006, 2007); Frost & Sullivan, Award for “Technology Innovation of the Year” (Greenfuel: 2006); GoGreen Award (GreenFuel 2005); Forbes B2B, best of the web (Excelergy: 2002, 2003); Upside Magazine, Upside Hot 100 (Excelergy: 2002); Utility CIS/CRM Consortium, Utility Award for CIS/CRM Excellence (Excelergy: CIS Initiative – Europe 2003); Power & Gas Marketing, Premium Product Award (Excelergy: 2002); Platts/BusinessWeek, Finalist for Global Energy Award (Excelergy: 2002).
Interview conducted by: Bud Wayne, Editorial Executive, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – February 17, 2012
Mr. Bullock: Our vision in our water business is to be the very best at providing resource recovery and reuse from municipal, industrial, and agricultural wastewater streams worldwide. Our vision in our power business is to provide the leading clean coal combustion technology for the power industry working with major industry partners.
CEOCFO: Would you explain the ThermoEnergy technologies?
Mr. Bullock: We have two technologies; one is for wastewater treatment from industrial municipal and agricultural streams. We take chemicals that are pollutants out of those streams so that we can reuse them. We use a platform technology that we call our Cast® Platform. It is a family of technologies that we can easily adapt to remove different components, whether it is sugar, ammonia or a transition metal that might be very valuable. What you also get usually is better water. Therefore, it is not only water remediation, but also the reclaiming of those elements that might otherwise have gone into the environment and been wasted, or even acted as a pollutant. On the power side, it is a developing technology. There is still a lot to be done to commercialize it for use. Effectively, what the technology does is remove the smokestacks from a coal plant. For example, it burns carbonaceous fuels like coal and we collect all the emissions.
Mr. Bullock: Absolutely. Our water technologies result in cleaner water and generally reusable products. We consider ourselves clean, green, to use those terms. Generally, what we do is very good for the environment.
The markets for our technologies are fairly large worldwide, but they are
emerging markets. The markets on the wastewater side span several different
areas, whether it is ammonia recovery, sugar recovery, or metals recovery.
In the United States those markets measure many hundreds of millions to
billions of dollars over the next several years, and certainly in China
where they are spending a tremendous amount of money to clean up the water,
there is a large market as well. We have a pilot project that we expect to
be shipping soon to China that will be for ammonia removal. Likewise,
Europe, who has done a lot in this area already, has regulations that make
our equipment useful there as well.
We were actually speaking at a Clean Coal Conference and we made contact
with groups over there. We worked with a group that was primarily interested
in the water area. Originally, we were going after markets that we thought
would have very fast payback to them like the metals market, where you
recover a valuable metal that may be discharged in the wastewater stream.
However, after they looked at that, they felt that actually there was
considerable interest in ammonia reduction in China. Therefore, we began to
go after that market, and that is how the pilot project developed. We will
be shipping that unit shortly.
Mr. Bullock: We do a fair amount of electronic outreach by way of emailing, writing articles on timely topics, and blogging to stimulate interest and leads. We also do traditional outreach such as attendance at shows, advertizing, giving talks, leveraging events to make commentary and giving ‘brown bag’ lunch talks for partners, such as major engineering firms. Leads also may be originated by a partner or a sales representative. In the US, we have as sales force and nine sales representative groups, and these groups have incentives to bring us projects. We have two sales representative groups in the UK and EU. We have a partnership with a group in China. Most of our leads come in via the internet but most often are originally stimulated by one of these sources.
Mr. Bullock: It was a large contract for us, at approximately $4M, and you are right it was for a potable drinking water system for a military base. It came about through a relationship with a large government contractor who was responsible for a much larger project at the base.
You would have to ask the Board of Directors, who recruited me as to what
they say, but they were in the process of doing a management change for
several reasons. They talked to me about coming in, taking the company and
trying to realize the vision that they had for the technology. I joined
about two years ago, and there were a number of structural issues with the
company. There was debt that was overdue, so I had to renegotiate and
restructure that debt to essentially turn it into equity. There was also an
issue with the IRS, which we were behind with at that point and a number of
other problems like that. That just took time to work through. Once we
resolved those issues, we began to grow the business again. Our sales for
this year as indicated in our press releases are up considerably from last
year and we are expecting to be up again next year.
Mr. Bullock: We do have some business development agreements. Certain parts of the developing world like Brazil have tremendous needs for water remediation technology. Therefore, we have some business development relationships there, which we hope will bring projects forward. We are also developing deeper relationships in the Canadian market. The Asian markets, European markets, Canada and certain parts of Latin America will be our primary focus going forward.
Mr. Bullock: We are looking at technologies that ally with ours. A lot of times when our equipment is deployed, often there are other technologies that if they are deployed simultaneously offer a bigger value for the host or the customer. So, we are looking at combining technologies, with some consideration for acquisitions, and we are just making the strategic partnerships to do that. We also have a number of our own ideas to improve our own technology to make it even more competitive and versatile. We are also investing in automated sales tools to allow our partners who are engineering firms, sales representatives, and things like that, to be able to understand how to apply our products very quickly. Therefore, once they see an opportunity they can quickly determine whether it is appropriate for our technology.
Our model is to partner with people who have pretty strong in-depth skills
technically. In Europe, for example sales representatives have very good
skills in terms of both selling equipment but also providing service for it.
First of all, we are starting with representatives and partners that we feel
can be very good for us, whose skills and channels we can lever. Certainly,
when we send systems over initially, we have to be there and we have
training regimen that we have that we can share with our partners. The
intention is that ultimately when we are sending something overseas, t
initially we will support it, but we are also working to train our partners
to be able to do that too -- essentially be us in another geography.
We actually needed the extra space to do the necessary manufacturing for our
New York project. Now that we have it, we are able to handle much larger
sales. For example before we expanded, we were limited to roughly $10M of
business per year. Now we believe we can support up to roughly $25M per
year. It is a great facility. Has what we need to grow, reasonable rent and
a supportive city.
Mr. Bullock: It has been a struggle because we had very little capital to start with. We had to raise money to solve some of these issues, and having solved them, we have had to raise money to move forward. We are hoping to get to a point where soon we may have raised all the capital we need except for just pure growth capital.
Not right now, but we are beginning to do more. I do try to be responsive to
investors when they call. We do have an IR firm, and I will go out on an
investor conferences. I share that with my CFO.
Mr. Bullock: We have the technology for the times. ThermoEnergy’s portfolio of technologies addresses four major global mega-trends. The decreasing availability of clean water is an issue everywhere today. Environmentally friendly technologies and products are in high demand. Growing population and increasing standards of living are increasing the demand for fertilizer. Finally, the world is becoming much more carbon conscious, with or without carbon regulation. ThermoEnergy’s portfolio of technology addresses all of these.
We have the markets. The markets our technologies play into are very large. The wastewater industry is measured in billions of dollars. Repowering or replacing our existing electric generation with cleaner sources, including ThermoEnergy is zero emissions boiler, is measured in trillions over the next twenty years. Not all of it will be ours, but even a small piece is still very large.
We have an exceptionally talented group of people who have deep experience in the industry.
We have increased our revenues dramatically. Revenues in 2011 were almost double what they were in 2010. And we expect them to be dramatically higher in 2012 than they were in 2011.
Finally, we have improved our balance sheet and capitalization structure. In the past two years, we have extinguished roughly $14M of liabilities from our balance. We have reduced debt by more than $8M. We now have a relatively clean balance sheet, and we have significantly improved our capitalization structure by dramatically reducing warrant overhang.
We believe it is a good value for investors because after having done all of this the stock trades a little under where it was when we started. We believe before long the market will begin to recognize what we’ve done and begin recognizing it by affording us a higher price.
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We have two technologies; one is for wastewater treatment from industrial municipal and agricultural streams. We take chemicals that are pollutants out of those streams so that we can reuse them. We use a platform technology that we call our Cast® Platform. It is a family of technologies that we can easily adapt to remove different components, whether it is sugar, ammonia or a transition metal that might be very valuable. What you also get usually is better water. Therefore, it is not only water remediation, but also the reclaiming of those elements that might otherwise have gone into the environment and been wasted, or even acted as a a pollutant. On the power side, it is a developing technology. There e is still a lot to be done to commercialize it for use. Effectively, what the technology does is remove the smokestacks from a coal plant. For example, it burns carbonaceous fuels like coal and we collect all the emissions. - Cary G. Bullock
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