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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Friday, Jul. 6, 2018 1 week ago

Winter Park start up looks to offer green transportation solutions

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Walker Haymaker and Ari Davis’ new start up, The Soil Company, is hoping to make the world a greener place.
by: Troy Herring Associate Editor

In the heart of downtown Winter Park, two Rollins College alums have a plan — to help make the world green.

At their office — located at 101 S. New York Ave. — Walker Haymaker and Ari Davis are continuing their research that started at Rollins and putting it toward developing concepts to help clean up soil pollutants caused by cars and gas stations.

“We started as a MBA project at Rollins Crummer Graduate School of Business — basically a commercialization project to try and take one of NASA’s patented technologies and actually commercialize that and come up with a business model around it,” Davis said. “The big problem that we were trying to address was the issue of brown field sites — specifically pollution at old gas stations.

“A lot of the old gas stations that are out there have underground storage tanks that leak, and so we tried to come up with this commercialization program around solving that problem,” he said.

And the biggest issue, the two explained, was that going into the research for the project, neither quite grasped how large and dire the situation was.

“We knew the problem existed, but we really didn’t know how big it was, so when we started looking into the soil contamination pollution area we saw that there were over 450,000 brown field sites in the U.S.,” Haymaker said.

Through 12 months of research and trial-and-error the duo — who became friends while going through the MBA program — haven’t found the perfect solution, but said that the best bet may come through the use of enzymatic remediation technology.

The process requires pouring liquid over the polluted soil — mixing it into the soil so that it breaks down the pollutant, which releases oxygen and carbon dioxide on the other side, Davis said. 

“We’re taking an already existing technology and going to further develop it, so we actually haven’t developed that technology yet,” Davis said. “And that’s the whole mission of this company — to develop this.”

If the two can crack the code and develop their concept, the technology that is created could help make cleanup cheaper, less-intrusive and less-toxic than what it is now.

And the duo isn’t just stopping there — they’re also pushing a new electric bike for cleaner traveling that has been in the works for going on a year. Back in June of 2017, Haymaker and Davis began customer research as they looked to develop a clean energy bicycle that could be easily used for local commuting.

Called the “Soil Bike,” the startup’s foldable aluminum-bodied bicycle is an environmentally minded person’s best friend, and is currently looking for funding on Kickstarter. 

The 250W electric brushless motor can hit top speeds of around 15-18mph and has a 50-mile range (with pedal assist). And of course if the motor runs out of juice, riders can simply use the pedals to get around or take them to the nearest wall outlet to plug in and recharge.

The concept for the bike came from Haymaker and Davis’ want to add another dimension to their fight against soil pollution caused by cars. So far the startup has three bikes completed — one for each of them and one for their mentor John Rife, who founded the East End Market — that they’ve been using to showcase and promote the company.

“We also figured out that we wanted to sign something on the other end of the spectrum that could also be preventative for community pollution,” Davis said. “So we also designed an electric bike at the same time, that we could create some awareness for what we are doing, but also prevent people from utilizing their car for local trips.”

The passion these two conservationists have can easily be seen in these most recent projects, and in their backgrounds as well.

Haymaker, a Florida native, has a family history of conservation — with his father and two sisters playing roles in helping to make the environment around them a better place. Likewise Davis, a New Zealand native, has long had a passion for the outdoors — and his family too has been big into conservation.

The Soil Company and its current and future projects are just the next step in helping the world become a better place.

“There’s a really good quote by Bill Gates that we tell people and it kind of connects; ‘Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable,’” Davis said. “So on one end of the spectrum we are trying to develop a solution to fix it (soil pollution), then on the other end we are developing solutions to prevent it.”

Troy Herring is the associate editor at the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Mount Olive (BS '12) and the University of Alabama (MA '16)....

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