Antique Gas PumpBy Bill Blaire – Private Equity Investor

As told to John Jonelis

I’m sittin’ way in the back o’ this crowd so’s I can duck outa here fast. That’s just in case this meetin’ gets outa hand like the last time. It ain’t like I don’t enjoy mixin’ it up—you know I do. Thirty years in the Local #1 boilermakers don’t make a guy soft. But if they haul me off to the lockup again, maybe they throw away the key this time.


Da Stage

This is BNC Venture Capital where it’s all business, all the time. Every company’s gotta answer the Five Big Questions:

  1. What is it?
  2. Why the hell will anybody buy it?
  3. Who’s runnin’ da show?
  4. How does da company make money?
  5. How does da investor make money?

Answer all five o’ them and ya got yerself a business.


Solid Stuff

So lemme tell you ‘bout somethin’s been botherin’ me a long time. resized_hedex7jpg1366040091Mosta what we see at these events around town is high tech or mobile apps. It’s like all the mechanical engineers curled up ‘n’ died. But c’mon—doncha think there’s more to life than apps? I wanna hear about some solid stuff fer a change. Stuff made outa steel ‘n’ big bolts.

People don’t realize it, but there’s alotta technology in mechanical contraptions. Well, tonight we finally get to see summa that.


Da Problemo

All sorts o’ companies is payin’ a fortune t’ gas up their fleets o’ trucks. It don’t take much fer some sweaty Arabs to ram the price o’ gasoline up the whazoo. We’re talkin’ small companies here—plumbers, heatin’ ‘n’ air conditioning guys, landscapers, industrial contractors—lotsa little outfits runnin’ on real thin margins. Fuel prices go up, they start bleedin’ money and that’s a major pain fer the whole country.

So companies is convertin’ to natural gas bigtime. It’s cheap and made in the good old USA. Waste Mangement is a hunnert percent natgas already. AT&T is convertin’ to it. Busses run on it. Even natural gas companies is makin’ the switch! All three major automakers sell natgas worktrucks these days, too.

But small outfits is all up against the wall tryin’ to afford natgas refueling stations. These units is real expensive. And the equipment out there ain’t so pretty neither. These things leak somethin’ awful. Hoses strewn all over the place. And they’re forever freezing up. They’re whuch-yuh-call maintenance hogs. What’s more, there ain’t no natgas refueling infrastructure yet, which makes this a real important problemo.


Da Fix

So along comes HE System Technologies. These guys make a compressor. Now wait a sec! Before ya flip the page, this’s part o’ their HEDEX natural gas system refueling station. It fills a huge hole in the market.

The HEDEX is different: Ten pistons. Liquid cooled. Efficient. Modular. resized_crop2ventsideJPG1366049015If a compressor goes bad, just unbolt it and send it back. The whole works is completely enclosed in one neat package that looks somethin’ like that Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future or maybe C3PO from Star Wars.

The company makes these three claims about their fueling station:

  1. It’s safe—Hey we’re talkin’ high explosive gas here.
  2. It’s reliable and durable—Seen anything that fits that description lately?
  3. It’s affordable—The thing pays fer itself in a year and a half.

All o’ that makes the HEDEX perfect fer small fleets. There ain’t nothin’ else out there fer them kinda outfits and hey, there’s huge numbers o’ small companies smeared all across the map. Translation—this thing’s scalable. That oughta get the juices flowin’ among you deep-pocket investors out there. Yeah you know who you are.

resized_HEDEXlitupJPG1366049072All these little companies know a good thing when they find it. This HE Systems bunch is got paying customers beggin’ fer product AND THE THEY’RE ALREADY PROFITABLE. Dealers in 10 states wanna sign up as local reps. So all they gotta do is train the dealers ‘n’ they got a ready-made national sales force. Simple. And did I mention scalable? Well maybe I did, but ya can’t never say that word enough times.

Then there’s overseas. That’s an even bigger market than here at home. There’s other types o’ markets to consider too. Oil wells for example. They need a cheap way to capture all that natgas they’s burnin’ off as waste.


Da Team

Jim McSweeney is the business guy. His partner’s the inventor and worked for NASA. These two is on the committee to write the standards fer gas compressors in Canada. The Gas Technology Institute picked their system. How ‘bout them fer credentials?

Sure it’s capital intensive. So is building trucks. Did I mention scalable?

Here’s their website.




Photo credits – Wikipedia, HE System Technologies.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved


1 Comment

Filed under Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Low Tech, Startup Companies, Startups

One response to “GAS FOR THE MASSES

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