With 1.1m firefighters in the US, the annual value of the workwear cleaning market is estimated to be US$330m – and a Rotherham company is well placed to meet demand.
Xeros – famous for its ‘almost’ waterless washing technology – has acquired Gloves Inc, a firm that cleans personal protection equipment from facilities in Atlanta and Miami.
Chief executive Mark Nichols said: “Development of our technology is completed. Now it’s about commercialisation and transforming those industries. We are aiming for some very significant milestones this year.”
This story is in ‘Rotherham Roars’, the Star’s celebration of the borough’s booming economy, published on Wednesday, March 28.
The Gloves deal represents a “key milestone” in achieving national coverage in 2019, he added.
The firm aims to then move into cleaning protective clothing in the petrochemicals, mining and construction industries.
Mr Nichols said: “Our acquisition of Gloves is the next step in bringing the transformational benefits of our technology to the entire US firefighter PPE market.
“The learning and competence which we are now acquiring will be the platform from which we can make our technology available on a global basis for a number of high-performance workwear markets.”
The Xeros process uses small nylon beads to knock dirt off clothes, using up to 90 per cent less water than conventional methods. Xorbs can also be used to apply colour .
As a result, the firm is taking the global laundry, tanning and dyeing sectors by storm.
It is also reporting strong interest from hot, dry countries including South Africa – which has brought in a countdown clock and rations in a bid to avoid ‘Day Zero’ – Dubai and Australia.
“We’re on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham because there’s a great eco-system of companies. The economy is very dynamic and there are many science and engineering developments here.
“The council is very helpful, we have no issues with officialdom. We get a lot of graduates and pHDs out of Sheffield universities.”
The first domestic washing machine using Xeros’ technology is likely to hit the shops in 2020, he added.