Missoula company produces cost-effective road deicer
NBC Montana's entire viewing area continues to clean up from the major winter storm that hit last week. One Missoula company is doing its part to help clean the roadways while saving plowing operations money. MISSOULA, Mont. -
Jarod Bennett left his hometown of Missoula to pursue a career in finance. An unlikely job called him home a few years ago.
"I didn't think chemical distribution was going to be a super sexy business to get involved with," Bennett said. "As you have kids and you get older the things that attract you to Montana get stronger and stronger."
Bennett took over the family business, a chemical manufacturer and distributor, a few years ago. Their primary product used to be a chemical used in resins for plywood and particle board, but the wood product industry took a hit. Bennett came up with a new venture in road deicers.
"What we've done is we've created an alternative to magnesium chloride, designing it to be cheaper so we can make the liquid here close to where it's going to be used to reduce the cost by shipping water over land less," Bennett said.
His company, Green Griz, now pays royalties to manufacture AquaSalina+. It's about 20 cents a gallon less than magnesium chloride, which most street crews use on Montana roads.
This is the first full winter Green Griz has offered the product, and it's doing better than expected. Already, 15 commercial plowing outfits in Missoula use it. The city of Polson and Sanders County also picked it up.
Now Bennett's talking with Missoula County. Public Works officials say they haven't tried it yet but are considering it.
"The product works really well, and people seem to be happy with it," Bennett said.
One of the young company's biggest challenges comes with a dose of irony.
"Supply chain is difficult when your primary business is supposed to be for the worst time for roads and then you have to drive over passes," he laughed.
Bennett hopes to bring even more jobs to Montana. When our roads turn dry he plans to expand into agriculture and water treatment products.
Green Griz had one employee when it started two years ago. Now they employ seven people.
They also manufacture a basic salt brine deicer called Griz Whiz. That is used in Helena currently but hasn't yet been approved for Missoula County.