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Air aid

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  • | 11:00 a.m. September 25, 2015
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One morning in early March, Alan Wozniak woke up to 100 orders for his $90 do-it-yourself kit to test air quality for formaldehyde.

He knew something must have happened to spur the unusual surge in orders. Turns out a “60 Minutes” episode that aired the previous night featured a segment that highlighted some hardwood floors from Lumber Liquidators that contained traces of formaldehyde.

A mere 100 orders was only the beginning of the deluge.

Within a few months, Lumber Liquidators ordered 5,000 kits, then 10,000 then 20,000 and then 45,000 kits, as customers began to request the tests, Wozniak says. His 40-employee, Clearwater-based air quality maintenance company, Pure Air Control Services, did whatever it could to keep up with the demand. Wozniak set up makeshift manufacturing space around the office and shifted employees to assembly. He quickly found three labs to partner with to assist with collecting test samples.

Overall, the quick jump in orders was a logistical mess, Wozniak admits. He had samples being returned that were difficult to track because Lumber Liquidators ordered kits, then passed to a contractor, then to a homeowner — which made contact information messy. “You can be prepared, but like a Category 5 hurricane, you can never really be ready for it,” he says.

Pure Air's annual revenues jumped from $3 million in 2014 to $7 million in the first eight months of 2015. Wozniak expects the company to reach $10 million by the end of the year.

But the test kit sales only account for about 20% of the company's business, Wozniak says. The additional uptick can be credited to the economy turning around and people investing in equipment again.

What saved Pure Air was not being concentrated in one industry, Wozniak says. Targeted markets include in health care, higher education and federal government. “If you can get through a bad economy, you'll become a better organization.”

Wozniak founded the company in 1984, initially as an air conditioning mechanical contractor. Competing with more than 600 contractors in Pinellas County alone, it quickly became obvious he needed a niche. He decided to focus on the health and environmental side of air quality.

Pure Air has multiple divisions. The list includes a building sciences division with an on-site lab to test air quality, a HVAC remediation division and Building Health Check, which produces 24 different kinds of do-it-yourself air test kits.

The company spreads the word about its services through monthly webinars and its weekly e-newsletter, “Indoor Quality (IQ) Review,” which has more than 12,000 subscribers. Though the newsletter may not turn a direct sale, it reminds people the company exists, Wozniak says. “I don't know why more companies don't do them,” he adds.

Now Pure Air seeks to find more ways to educate potential customers about its products and services. The company is investing nearly $20,000 in building a studio with a green screen and cameras to improve its webinars and product informational videos. “We're taking what we've learned and expanding,” Wozniak says, investing in the website, more tradeshows and presentations. “This is our new threshold.”


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