Product perspective: PennzSuppress D

Dust control is an issue in the mining industry, but also in agriculture, railways, roads and even the military. Bruce Coulthard, president of PZS Stabilization, talks about the revolutionary dust control product PennzSuppress D.

Dust is a problem in many industry sectors, but it has not been tackled seriously until relatively recently. This could be because the industries concerned had other priorities, or because the ‘solutions’ available were either not effective, or too expensive. PennzSuppress D removes all the obstacles to cost-effective dust control, says Bruce Coulthard, president of PZS Stabilization. “PennzSuppress D is patented technology. It’s structurally superior, it’s 30-40 percent less expensive, and it’s the only prime coat approved by the EPA. I have not been able to find a comparable product in the marketplace, anywhere.”

PennzSuppress D is based on water emulsified paraffin wax resin, which can be effortlessly applied using proprietary water trucks. It contains no damaging solvents or asphalts, so it is environmentally benign. It soaks into the surface layer where salts in the soil deactivate the oxygen, enabling the resin to dry and lock hard. “It does not wash away,” says Coulthard. “It has a crush rate of 600 to 700 tons which is exactly what is required for a mine road, compared to a crush rate of 30 tons for asphalt. It just requires a light maintenance application after 7000 vehicle passes.”

Although PennzSuppress D is patented technology, it’s not a brand new product. What is new is the marketing effort PZS Stabilization is putting into it. It was originally designed, invented and patented by Pennzoil in the early 1990s for mining applications, but a series of ownership changes conspired to limit its accessibility.

PennzSuppress D was eventually acquired by American Refining Group (ARG) in 2002 after a divestiture required of Royal Dutch Shell when it merged with Quaker State. ARG limited its sales and marketing of the product to the northeastern United States, but it was never more than a nominal percentage of revenues and was peripheral to its core business.

Coulthard was part of a small consortium that understood the product’s potential and believed it could offer a cost-effective solution to customers’ dust problems, delivering significant environmental benefits at the same time. PennzSuppress D is still manufactured by ARG in Bradford, Pennsylvania, but two years ago, PZS Stabilization was granted exclusive rights to market the product around the world by its new owners PennzSuppress Corporation. Chuck Johnson, President and Will Summers COO had the foresight and opportunity to acquire PennzSuppress in early 2011.

Potential customers exist everywhere, so managing a global expansion program needs a deliberate strategy. You can’t go everywhere at once, can you? “We’re concentrating on South America and Australia at the moment,” says Coulthard, “with large mining companies and farming companies. I’m also dealing with the largest railroads in the United States, and the largest paving contractors, to educate them about the product. We are also moving into some of the largest military training centers in the United States, where they are training with M1 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. We’ve given them a surface that is amazing.” These are the same industries we are concentrating on now in other countries.

Product education is an important component of the exercise. PZS provides the product, but the customer handles its application. “We teach customers or their contractors how to apply the product,” says Coulthard. “We sell the product for them to put into their water trucks, mix it four to one, and put it down properly. We don’t need to do the application ourselves. I’m focused on getting the product to the people, and educating them to apply it themselves.” However, there is an application division in the US for customers who ask for a turnkey operation when needed.

Shipping direct is a major cost saver for customers, says Coulthard. “It’s the most efficient way of dealing with it, logistically. We don’t want to have PZS Stabilization warehouses in every country, because it’s much more economical to ship direct. We can be anywhere in the world within 30 days, it is simple advance planning.”

Although the normal dilution rate is 4:1 (water to product), it can vary in different conditions. “There was a saying in Pennzoil when this was first invented,” says Coulthard. “‘Dilution is the solution’. If you have a very hard surface, you can go to 8:1 or 10:1 instead of the normal 4:1 dilution rate. That adds more water so it can penetrate more easily into the road surface, so the resin will follow the water down and agglomerate.” PZS asks for a soil sample from most customers, to understand what their conditions are. “That means that when we give them a recommendation, it’s spot on. Their comfort level is our success level.”

Success levels continue to break the sound barrier. Growth has been in multiples of five every month this year, and shows no sign of slowing down. It’s not a case of sell once and move on, however—far from it. Coulthard is determined to forge long-term relationships with customers. “I personally meet with every large company, wherever I have to fly to around the world,” he says. “When people sit down with me for three or four hours, they’re hooked. Then we try to build long-term relationships. I want to be able to look the guy in the eye a year after he started using PennzSuppress and have the same warm relationship that we had in the beginning. It’s the key to success in our business model, for repeat business with that customer in another location, or for maintenance materials in the future.”

The potential for further growth is limitless, he says, for something that actually works. “Dust control is coming to the forefront now because of the emphasis on corporate social responsibility,” he says. “People are tired of breathing dust. The mining industry is leading the way and the big mining companies in the US and Canada have dealt with this problem already, but there are people in other countries and sectors who do not have access to PennzSuppress D, and we want to make it available to them.

“PennzSuppress D is patented technology, plain and simple,” he concludes. “When a multinational company such as Pennzoil spends tens of millions of dollars developing a product such as this it makes our job much easier. Simply put, PennzSuppress sells itself!”