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The “Coco World Tour”!

Geneviève Desjardins, Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Among the many technologies developed at Premier Tech, there is notably Ecoflo®, a compact system for autonomous wastewater treatment. A few years ago, amongst a global aim toward this technology, Henri Ouellet, president of the Environmental Technologies Group, and his team, found that in certain regions of the world, especially Europe, peat was not easily accessible nor economical. Therefore, it was necessary to find a substitute for the filter media which became the heart of Ecoflo®.

Team member Pierre Talbot, now Senior Vice President of Innovation, who had completed his doctoral studies in Mexico, had heard about the use of coconut husk fragments as a growing medium in the horticulture industry. This led to Premier Tech launching its research and development work on the coconut. The more the process progressed, the more we needed to start thinking about how to furnish it, given the amount of coconut needed. An extensive undertaking had begun!

We embarked on the "Coco World Tour", a trip around the world to find the best place where the coconut industry was fairly developed and organized. The goal was to find a partner in a country already in trade with Europe, that was economically stable, peaceful, and where transport would be possible. Was there a perfect place to meet all our criteria?

Henri Ouellet and his team members traveled around the world visiting companies that were processing coconut husk fragments: Mexico, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India... but nothing fit their criteria. At the end of their visit to the Dominican companies, they met an Italian businessman who was planning to invent machinery for processing coconut fragments, which then brought them to Italy. Unfortunately, just before the end of the process and after many negotiations, they were unable to reach an agreement, which ultimately brought the team back to square one.

After that setback, the team continued to look further, and an account from the late 1990s resurfaced. Even before Premier Tech Aqua began their big project, in around 1995, a young Sri Lankan businessman named Dinesh Fernando had bought used packaging equipment for his company to manufacture coconut fragments. What a coincidence! Fernando had a lot of vision, and a lot of ambition, but little means. After successfully convincing Premier Tech to get on board, he managed to repay all the cost of his equipment with the success of his company.

This story is proof that a simple action from the past can have impact several years later. It was finally in Sri Lanka that the business partnership was established with Dinesh and his company Tropicoir Lanka who had bought equipment from Premier Tech several years before. As he had promised, his business was flourishing, and he had even become a prominent business figure in Asia and Europe. This leader, respected around the world, had succeeded in setting up a world-class factory in terms of quality, respect for the environment, and working conditions. What could be better?

Premier Tech bought the majority of shares in this company, securing their supply of coconut, which then led to the development of partnerships with companies in India in the same field. Ecoflo® Coco Filter is a technology developed in Rivière-du-Loup, which is integrated in rotomolded tanks with molds and machines that have been designed and manufactured by the team members of Premier Tech Aqua in France, and whose coco husk fragments are produced in Asia. All thanks to the expertise of our teams spread over three continents! Like an orchestra conductor, Premier Tech's team members directed each group of instruments around the world, and it all ended in harmony! After all, with a specific project, ambition and a lot of hard work, it's possible to reach our goals, whether small or on an international scale!

For a virtual trip to Sri Lanka, watch this video filmed at one of our coconut processing plants in the northwest of this province!

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Geneviève Desjardins

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