Editor’s note: I outsource the audio transcription, and unfortunately have not had enough time to finish editing the outcome yet! I apologize for any errors in the text below, and welcome any corrections.
David Noël: Hello and welcome to the Manitoba Business Podcast, featuring interviews with business leaders and entrepreneurs based in our wonderful province. I’m David Noël.
Today’s guest founded a company called HD Petroleum, which has developed a technology that can economically convert used motor oil into high quality diesel fuel. Our conversation ranged from practical to philosophical, with personal anecdotes mixed into the business stories. I hope it is as enjoyable to listen to as it was to record.
If you enjoy today’s episode, and I hope you do, please consider adding a review on iTunes. Positive reviews will have a big impact on the success of the show. Of course, please don’t be shy about sharing the show with your friends as well—the website is www.manitobabusinesspodcast.com
Without further ado, here is Todd Habicht.
[to Todd] Todd, thanks so much for coming on. If you wouldn’t mind just giving a bit of an introduction in terms of what your company does and what you do.
Todd Habicht: Fantastic, Dave. Well, certainly appreciate the privilege of being a part of this inaugural effort. So my name is Todd Habicht. I’m the founder of HD Petroleum, which is a company that’s been based and founded on a piece of technology that my grandfather brought to me back in the summer of 2006. And it was a project he’d been working on for many years, which quite simply, in its simplest form, takes waste motor oil out of cars and trucks and Jeeps and mopeds, and is able to convert it into a consumable diesel fuel. And subsequent to that, we’ve taken the technology, we have proven it out on a pilot project size, then full process size, and then we have redesigned, not so much the process, but the size and the shape and the scope of the equipment, to be able to be skid mounted to be transportable around the world to meet an international demand for the technology. And so there you go. There’s the summary of who we are and who I am.
Dave: Very cool. We’ll get back to your grandfather in a second, but I’m really curious what your background is as well. You said that your grandfather gave you the invention, basically, in 2006. What were you doing before that?
Todd: Yeah, just as a clarification. It’s not so much that my grandfather gave the invention, because he did have a partner in his efforts there. But he brought it to me in a ratted, old, beat up manila folder that had a bunch of thoughts and ideas and some of their experimentation in it. And the words that he said, [I’ve] repeated these often because of the irony of it, is he said, “Todd, I’ve got a project here I’d like you to take a look at. I don’t have the legs to see this one through.” And the irony of that is I’m the smallest in my family. As you can see, I’m not actually a small person. My gramps is about 6 foot 10. Yeah, 6’9″. He was a very, very, very tall man. And when he said he didn’t the legs to see something through, it was a… yeah. Standing in his cowboy boots, he was a very big man.
Dave: Sounds like it.
Todd: Yeah. He brought that to me as an effort that was an incomplete thing that had potential. And so that’s where it started from. At the time when he came to visit me I was in the midst of owning […] had partners in a bunch of cell phone stores. We had started with one partner in Saskatoon and we had a store that wasn’t a whole lot bigger than the office that we’re in right now. So it was a pretty small location. One of the smallest retail cell phone stores in western Canada.
Dave: You guys can’t see, but we’re in a room that, I think, is maybe 100 feet squared or something like that.
Todd: Yeah, I think we were… actually, we were 265 square feet. It was a pretty small, little office. And from that, we were sort of David that took on the giants. And we grew that over the course of the next three to four years. But ultimately, I guess I was in the cell phone industry for about eight and a half years. And had ownership of 10 stores. Ten locations. And yeah, life was good. We were doing well in the summer of 2006, so that was when Gramps came into my office. He was in town visiting a sister of his who was in the hospital at the time, and he wanders in and drops this old folder on my desk. And I looked at it, it was interesting, and I quite literally, I can clearly remember today putting it in the left hand drawer of my desk. I pulled it out and stuck it in there after reading it. Gramps is in town, so you have polite conversation and happy to see him and all that kind of good stuff. But he was also short for time because he wanted to see his sister. Grampa, he would have been about 88 at the time. Might have been 87, but was definitely getting up there in years. And so, just as the sands of time go, about three months following that, so we’re getting towards the fall of 2006 we had an opportunity to sell the last of our cell phone stores. And, for me, it was a good time. I had had a good run in the industry, but in that many years the industry had changed a significant amount and I was looking to do other things.
So yeah, sold that and was retained for a period of one year under a management transition contract piece. And two things happened. One, the buyer group that bought us out, bought me out, myself and my wife, they brought in a guy by the name of Ben Grant. And Ben actually did fantastic things. He was a fresh shot of energy into the locations and was really doing a wonderful job. And two, I would also like to think that the store and the customer base were well managed. So after about three months, I was doing nothing. And you coming from more of a tech background, if you think back chronologically, that’s about the beginning of YouTube. And so I sat in my corner office in the back of the stores, and after about two weeks, I had watched just about every video, every cat on a piano, every video that you could possibly imagine on YouTube, and realized I’m doing nothing here. And so I rang up the lead of the ownership group and made just a very simple proposal that look, they need my office space. The transition has happened smoothly.
Dave: The office space was worth more than you were to them.
Todd: Exactly. Buy me out and pay me out for half a year and I’m out of here. And it was a very, very pleasant, amicable way of wrapping things up. And so, yeah, took two weeks of so to wrap up a few items and then walked out unemployed, again in my life. But during that time, as I was cleaning out my desk, I pulled out that folder. And I just simply turned to Google and was kind of interested. And I started a Google business plan, if there’s such a thing, researching it and started to see that there was a very strong potential for this small, micro-refinery piece. So that sort of was the end of my cell phone experience. And it’s kind of funny. Here we are 8, 9, 10 years later…8…7, 8, 9…8 years later, and people still come to me, “Oh, you used to be in the industry. You helped me with a phone.” I struggle with my own phone these days. Things have changed so much.
Dave: Sure, they have.
Todd: But, so prior to the cell phone business, I had worked for a company that was young… basically, we called it a startup company. They were a startup technology company that was taking advantage of some deregulation in Saskatchewan. I was in Saskatoon at the time. Deregulation of the office phone system business, which is referred to as the interconnect in the telecommunications world. And came on as their sales guy. And to be part of sales, I really wanted to understand the mechanics of how office phone systems worked, how the wiring worked, and so I did that for about three months, and learned the basics. By no means, in three months, do you become an expert on all things telephone, but certainly had the basics down. And so then got into sales there. And, yeah, we had a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun because we were competing…
Dave: What time period was that, when you got into the sales gig?
Todd: Whew, well, when I got in the sales gig, I guess that started when I was about 14 years old, but.
Dave: We’ll get back to that.
Todd: Yeah. So, yeah, I’d have to run the clock backwards on that one, but that would have been late 1990s.
Dave: Okay, late 1990s. So you did sales in this interconnect company for a while.
Todd: Yeah, but really only for about 18 months. And it was from there that I actually started working on a phone system for a Rogers Wireless dealer. And through that connection was recruited to be part of the cell phone industry. And was in the cell phone industry as sales for a very short period of time, about three months, before I realized I kind of like this industry. And I saw where it was going, where I felt the potential was. And let’s be honest, it’s cell phones. It wasn’t that difficult of a thing. It’s not like I had some crystal ball visionary thing. It’s cell phones. It was going someplace.
Dave: It was a really good time to be getting into cell phones.
So, yeah, we took advantage of that and so that was kind of the transition into cell phones. And then prior to working for that interconnect, which if I think about it, short of cooking steaks at a Bonanza steak restaurant in Saskatoon, I think that was the only job I’ve ever had. But so, prior to that, I had just moved back to Saskatoon with a wife and young, two boys.
Dave: Did you grow up in Saskatoon?
Todd: I grew up in Saskatoon, yep. I grew up in Saskatoon and got married to a high school sweetheart, although she lived in Tisdale, I lived in Saskatoon. But we were grad escorts for each other and whatnot. And we actually lived in Tisdale, Saskatchewan for about a year and a half. The first year and a half we were married. And then moved to Kelowna, B.C. And we were in Kelowna for four years, and then back to Saskatoon. And when I came back to Saskatoon, we really came back because that’s where both her and my family were. My wife has one sister and husband and niece and nephew. They lived out in the Okanagan Valley at the time, but then they moved to northern British Columbia. And so it really was a family decision, to have our kids grow up with their cousins and as many aunt and uncles and grandparents and whatnot that was all back in Saskatoon. We loved living in Kelowna. But really the piece was, that made the decision is, one of the visits that my sister and brother-in-law came, and our two boys didn’t even know their own cousins. And it was, “Okay, we should…” It’s beautiful living here, but.
Dave: Family was more important.
Todd: Probably we should play the family card here for a little while. So we moved back to Saskatoon. And so that was the decision there. So I came back and I was helping the father-in-law, who’s a farmer, pick the crop off, so knew how to drive a grain truck and combine and all that sort of good stuff. But prior to going out to help there, my brother-in-law had taken over my father’s company, which was a company by the name of Prairie Graphics Industries, or PGI Industries is what he shortened the name up to. And they were a mid-size print shop that had some unique capabilities in the packaging industry to do custom made cardboard boxes. So jewelry boxes and things like that. So they would print them and die cut them, as well as the whole suite of printed material, professional printed material that someone might need.
So one night we were just sitting around after supper, chatting away, I was asking how things were going with him at work. And one thing that came up is he said he wished he had the ability to print corrugated cardboard boxes. And nobody can see this, but I’m pointing to that corrugated cardboard box that’s in this office here for the new printer we had to get for the engineers because they needed to print wide format. So a corrugated cardboard box…
Dave: I guess it doesn’t want to slide through a printer.
Todd: It doesn’t slide through a printer. It is printed prior to becoming a corrugated cardboard box. Now, in the industry, back in the day, in that era, if you owned a small ma and pa, say a custom computer shop, which was the thing back in the 1990s, people were doing white box computers, right? And you wanted to package your computer up. Say you sold 150 units a month. In order for you to have a box that would be Dave’s Custom Computers, DCC Inc. on there, you would have to ring up a Macmillan Bathurst, an Instabox, […] the big players. And their minimum order at the time would be, depending on the type of box, 2000 to 5000 boxes. And depending on the box, it could be $6, $7 a box. It could be $4…
Dave: That’s a lot of computers you’ve got to sell to do that.
Todd: Well, not only that, but you now have to warehouse. Although they don’t ship the boxes made into a box, because they’re still flat. But you’re looking at 8 to 10 pallets of boxes. And you’re looking at a $15,000 to $20,000 capital expenditure. And you’ve got yourself about a three or four year supply of boxes. And so I looked at that need that my brother-in-law just said just, “I wish I could print corrugated cardboard boxes. I think there would be a lot of orders.” A lot of business out there. So I was sitting out on the grain truck in the middle of the night in Saskatchewan, and got thinking about it. And long story short, invented is too big of a word, but I came up with a machine, a process, a way of printing a corrugated cardboard box after it was made into a box.
Then I purchased stock boxes from Macmillan Bathurst, I think, is where we got our first order from, so we ordered about 10,000 stock size boxes, then went around to all the ma and pa shops and started to sell just in time delivery in the range of 150 to 200. Our minimum run was 75, but typically 100, 150, 200 was a popular number of box sizes per month. Oh, one other piece. Your setup cost to be able to print through the big guys, a corrugated cardboard box, there was a per square inch, per color, full flap charge. So every one of the flaps needed a rubber die system. So not only did you have to buy the boxes, you had a very cost-burdensome upfront charge to carry, that was a one-time thing, but wore out, but you couldn’t change it. And for ourselves, my thing, I could do you a different color box, a different logo, a different whatever you wanted every month.
Dave: So let me get this straight. You’re sitting in your grain truck in Saskatchewan.
Dave: You figure out a way to print these boxes for your father-in-law’s print shop… or with your father-in-law’s…
Todd: No, my father-in-law was the farmer. It was my dad who had the…
Dave: Your dad.
Todd: Yeah, but he had sold it to my brother-in-law.
Dave: Okay, got you. Okay, so your brother-in-law’s print shop. You figure out a way…
Todd: We should at least have a whiteboard here.
Dave: Yeah, let’s diagram the whole thing out. So your brother-in-law’s print shop, you figure out a way to do the boxes. Now are you going around selling this to everyone as well?
Dave: Okay, so you figure out a way to do the boxes. You’re going around selling this, and then what happens?
Todd: Took me about three months to figure out the process. There’re multiple challenges. One, corrugated cardboard, if you run your finger over it, it’s not smooth. You’ve got a bumpy, bumpy, bumpy surface like waves on an ocean. And second thing, a box wants to spring open. So you have to have some way of having your substrate, your material flat, rigid. And then a method of printing that can accommodate a varying surface. So, yeah, it took about three months to get that figured out. Once I got that figured out, was absolutely inundated with orders. It was insane the hours that we were working. Hired a deaf guy to work at… not that the machine was loud, he was just a good guy. So I hired him, and it was kind of fun. He taught me sign language.
Dave: So you’re learning sign language while you’re printing boxes at your brother-in-law’s shop.
Todd: So you learn all the swear words first, right?
Dave: Of course, it’s like any language.
Todd: Well, that’s maybe painting him… Jim, he was a good guy, so it’s not fair to say that, but you pick up the fun pieces. And yeah, you learn your ABCs. A, B, C, D, I still know them today and can do them. Funny enough, last Wednesday, in Dili, East Timor, I was able to converse with somebody who was in the hotel lobby who was using sign language.
Dave: So you’re in this country where nobody speaks English and you’re able to communicate with a deaf guy using sign language.
Todd: Yep. They speak English. However, the primary language is Portuguese. Kind of a funny situation. You have to understand, which I learned here just recently, the history of the country. But this lady was actually a sign language teacher from Australia. Australia actually has a different sign language. They don’t use ASL, the American Sign Language. But she was teaching herself ASL from a computer so she could give the classes in ASL to the Portuguese deaf community.
Dave: This is a complicated story.
Todd: So I saw her signing in the lobby of the hotel. I signed across the room and she was quite excited, because hey, someone who could…
Dave: Yeah, that’s very cool.
Todd: But she wasn’t deaf, so we were able to have a conversation there. Anyhow, circle back to, so that’s how we learned how to sign language. So yeah, we were printing boxes like a son of a gun, running the phone, running the store from a cell phone in my back pocket. The store, the business, whatever you want to call it. And Thursday, it was a Thursday morning, I got the phone call and my Diamondtel DT20X phone, might have been the 22X phone, with the extended battery on the thing, we’re talking old-fashioned analog stuff here, rings and I answer it. And long story short, it was a buyer group from the industry that wanted to buy out the company. And fastest deal I think I’ve ever put together.
So you’ve actually had a couple of successes in your past…
Todd: Oh, success is a…
Dave: …in terms of sales.
Todd: …pretty big word. Just because you start and sell something doesn’t mean it’s a success. But yeah, so we sold that. And that one was wrapped up by the following day. Sold it in one day.
Dave: So let’s dig into that for a second. You wouldn’t necessarily call it a success. Do you not think of those business sales as successes or is there just something else… they’re just not the right flavor for you?
Todd: You know what? It’s a challenge. In hockey when you’ve hoisted the Stanley Cup, you’ve reached ta-da. You’re done, right? Depending on where you are in your career, you retire the next day or you go for two or three more, but we’ve all heard the interviews of the Crosbys, the Gretskys, the Lemieuxs, who have spoken of each time every one of them all speak of the first one. That was the sweetest. After that, the next Cup, they enjoy more the success that they are able to see in their younger teammates experiencing it for the first time. We’ve all read those interviews. We’ve all see those. So in business we don’t really have…
Dave: There’s no Stanley Cup.
Todd: Yeah, there’s no Stanley Cup.
Dave: Nobody tells you when you’re done.
Todd: There’s no Rose Bowl. There’s no… It’s just… and so I guess I’ve never really looked at, call is success, that way. I’m more interested in being happy. And try to run my life on two questions and my business principles on HFSCMM.
Todd: Have fun, satisfy customers, make money.
Dave: Sounds good.
Todd: So, the two questions that I like to ask myself on almost any decision, questions is maybe… they’re questions, but they’re… I like to think of them more as filters. And the filter that I first run things through is “at what cost?” And the second one is “and then what?” So you have to ask me a business decision, a business question, a something or another. Our International VP of Corporate Development says, “We have got to meet with the governor of East Timor. We have made all these overtures. They’ve sought us out. We’ve had this going back and forth. We have got to fit them in. I know the schedule is busy, but we’ve got to go.” “Okay, at what cost?” Well, at what cost? You can measure cost in many different ways. There’s the dollars and pennies. Got lunch from Taco Bell today. It cost $9. So at what cost? But I also ate at Taco Bell a hurried lunch, which maybe wasn’t the… no disrespect for Taco Bell, but it may not have been the healthiest choice.
Dave: I don’t think they’re going to listen to this podcast anyway.
Dave: You’re okay.
Todd: So there’re choices that a person has to make. So there’s the capital cost in any business decision. And you have to weigh that out. We’re going to allocate this capital to this thing, meaning we don’t have capital to go to this other thing, so it’s a bit of a prioritizing process. At what cost? And then you’re also going to say, “Well, wait a second. If I do this thing, I’m going to miss my kid’s first birthday.” Oops.
Dave: That’s a pretty big price.
Todd: If I am going to miss this thing, I’m going to have to work the next three nights with very little sleep in order to meet this deadline. Those are all costs that you pay. And then, I run it through the second filter, “and then what?” And the thing with “and then what?” is it really doesn’t have an end date on it. And if you run “and then what?” through to its ultimate conclusion, well one day you’re dead. But, not to take this into a dark and morbid place, that’s not really where I run every one. But you start to run it ahead and you go, “Okay, and then what?” Well, can we go on this trip and maybe we get more business. Okay, and then what? Well that’s a good thing. Who-hoo. We have to do this. I’m going to miss my kid’s first birthday. And then what? Oh, you know what? I’m not going to be in the pictures. That’s not going to be a very good thing. My kid, 10 years later, is going to wonder, why wasn’t Dad at the first birthday? You start to reevaluate the “at what cost?” And so the “and then what,” if you run it further ahead, you ultimately get to the point of where some day I’m done in business, and I’m going to retire, hopefully, all being well. And then you’re going to look back and you’re going to go… you’re going to kind of reevaluate some of those decisions that you made and say, “You know what? What a stupid fool I was for valuing this thing higher than the cost that I paid.”
And typically, those are not costs that are then monetary. Those are more family, friendship, those types of things. Because really, at the end of the day, what do we truly own of ourselves? We only really own our memories. That’s it. And so, yeah, you want to make certain that I take a little bit of a backwards approach to looking at the “at what cost?” and the “and then what?” to make certain that you just quickly… and it’s… when I do it, it’s not a long exercise. I can do it in three blinks of an eye. I can just “at what cost?” Some of it obviously… if we need to allocate $1.2 million towards this thing, probably best to do some analysis on that.
Dave: More than three seconds on that one.
Todd: Yeah, and run the more and the “and then what?” But some of the more simpler ones, just bang, bang, bang, you can just quickly think, for myself. It seems to be just a guiding filter that keeps me moving in the right direction. So we started on this tangent of what is success? Well, to me, success is have fun. Satisfy customers. Make money.
Dave: So it also sounds like you’re measuring success by a metric of your own happiness. And you’re measuring happiness by, in large part, the memories you can create. It sounds like family is really important in that equation. Do you feel like the previous… the sale of the cell phone stores and the sale of the printers is part of the reason that you’re not comfortable calling them successes, that you feel like there was a cost attached to them that you didn’t like? Or is it mostly just that you don’t feel like you’ve achieved the bar of success that you set for yourself?
Todd: That’s a very good question. And so I think it was something that I was sort of working towards. We struggle with this a lot, with this thing called HD Petroleum in that, six months ago, what we thought was a big task, by the time we get there and we’ve accomplished it, it has opened up broader, bigger, higher, further things. And in kindergarten, maybe grade 1, I don’t know where a person started to learn one plus one. But if you look at the grade 3ers’ homework, it’s a herculean task. You’re like, “How am I ever going to do… I don’t even know what to… I don’t even recognize what those little symbols are.” But by the time you get to grade 3, you look back and what you did in grade 1, and it really was simple math. Look ahead to what you’re doing in grade 10 and you go oh-ay-ay-ay. To a grade 3er, that’s overwhelming.
So as we grow in the company, and this has sort of been the case for myself in the multiple companies I’ve started and sold, is they just take me to a place where the next task is just bigger. It’s just you… and it’s maybe a part of capacity. And maybe it’s a part of… I like to use the word maturity, but that’s a really big word that I won’t bear the responsibility of that. But when I started my first thing, it was on an extremely small budget. The next one, we had some capital and so we did a bigger thing. After the cell phone stores, it was freedom at 35. We had exited from there and were quite comfortable and was 35 years old and needed to do something. But we built up a… for myself, it was, I guess… I don’t know if I was proud of the capital I had available at that point in time, but it was substantial, for myself, anyhow. And we started this thing. And it was just a bigger thing. So, yeah, it wouldn’t have been that I looked back at any one of those previous businesses that we started and sold as being something where I didn’t feel fulfilled.
Dave: You just feel like you’ve moved on to the next step.
Todd: Just moved on to the next step. Now I’m doing grade 10 math instead of grade 3 math and it’s just the way you go.
Dave: But that being said, you did a grade 3 math that not a lot of people do, right? Does that ever cross your mind? I guess what I’m trying to get at is I’ve realized that in myself, certainly, and in people that I know that hold themselves to a certain standard, there’s always a tendency not to celebrate your successes really. It’s like you’re describing. You’re always going on to the next thing, right? So does that ring true for you? Was it a constant next level or did you ever get a chance to stop at any point and be like, “Oh, man. I actually did something pretty cool?”
Todd: Yes, you could bring any one of the people in the office in and ask them that. And that same question. And it has been a topic of discussion. It’s something that I know I’m guilty of in that… yeah, I’m not great at celebrating the successes, the milestones, the achievements that we have had. It’s something that we subsequently try and look back and celebrate. I do hope that I do a respectable job of paying the respect due to each of the individual efforts that are a part of the whole when something is achieved. The challenge is, though, specifically in HD, but it’s the same in other things, say you need to complete a capital raise. And so say the goal is a million dollars. Big cap raise. Whew. You do it. The challenge is the people that invested in and put their trust and confidence in that million dollar capital raise…
Dave: So there the process is just starting. You don’t get to celebrate that yet.
Todd: Exactly. So I sum up HD this way. We are on the verge of commercializing our technology, which triggers a terrific amount of opportunity for us that is… we signed contracts and all that kind of good stuff. And I say it this way. “We have worked at HD very hard for seven years to get to the start line.” Think of how many times… go back to the Stanley Cup. How many games Wayne Gretzky. Extremely well documented, Sid Crosby, their childhood, the stories, the backyard ice, the Walter Gretzky of the world. How many pucks did Wayne shoot? How many… all of that stuff. An Olympic archer. How many arrows has he shot? Aurora, how many… where did they start canoeing? All that good stuff. You do 100,000 repetitions before the one that counts. And that really is where we are at, is we have done seven years of extremely hard work, taking risks and calculations and all that good stuff to get to the start line. And so how can you measure your success when you’re just at the start line?
Now, an Olympic sprinter, they have a start line. The thing is going to be over in 9.87 seconds or however fast Usain Bolt can run the thing in. I don’t know if he’s the fastest anymore. I guess it’s some guy in the United States, some guy in the college circle. I saw that in the news here, who’s beat his record twice. Yeah, he ran 9.6 or something like that, but it was in the NCA something qualifying thing, and so it wasn’t a fully sanctioned whatever. So should an Olympic sprinter celebrate and be immensely proud of the fact that they have got to the start line of the Olympic finals? Absolutely, that should be celebrated.
Dave: Yeah, but the race isn’t done yet.
Todd: But how long do they get to celebrate that moment?
Dave: Yeah, yeah.
Todd: Runners, ready? Take you mark. Bang, 9.8 seconds. It’s all over and that’s the outcome. Now, you finish 9th, you finish 10th, you still got…
Dave: You still go to the Olympics.
Todd: You still got to the Olympics. So, yeah, that’s a challenge, to make certain that we celebrate the success. And the one that I really enjoy is being able to celebrate the successes within the story of HD and the people who have come, formed part of the team, and all that sort of good stuff. But really, I guess, how do I measure it? HFSCMM. Have fun, satisfy customers, and then the final make money. And that was a slogan that we actually put up in bold, big lettering in each of my cell phone stores. Right out in… because it was a driving thing. Call it a mission statement. Call it a… whatever. Not really big on all that stuff.
Dave: I know what you mean.
Todd: But it was just HFSCMM. And really, the first two are guiding principles, and the last is a foundation that the first two function on. Each one cannot independently stand on their own as far as a business model goes, but each one must function relying on the other. And it’s hard to place a priority over any of them. However, the make money is a foundation. It must…
Dave: It’s the most important piece for business.
Todd: It must be there. It’s the foundation that the other two are able to function on. So, you and I, we have not produced on that. So far we’re having a good time. I came in to the meeting and I was having a good day. And you were having a good day. But here we are stuck in this 100 something square foot little office. If one of us was having a bad day, how is it going to affect the other?
Dave: Yeah, we’d both be feeling it.
Todd: We’re no longer having fun. And have fun is a very, very simple, two word sentence that can mean an awful lot. It’s tough to have fun when Old Yeller died. It’s tough to have fun when grandma’s sick in the hospital. It’s tough to have fun when this morning you got in a car accident and all that sort of good stuff. So have fun is a pretty holistic piece. It doesn’t mean that we’re all just a bunch of jokers and clowns around here. It means that you’re enjoying life.
And back in the ’80s, ’70s, ’80s, I don’t know, ’70s, whatever. Whoops, I was a kid in the ’70s and the ’80s, but ’90s there was keep your business life and your personal life separate. I never really bought into that. How are you supposed… it’s just life. It just falls under the umbrella of life. It’s difficult to enjoy the work that you’re doing if the work that you’re doing is not complemented by your home life, your outside of work life. It’s tough to be a criminal by night and a good guy by day. If you come home and the wife is unhappy because your work life doesn’t complement what that is, you’re not going to enjoy who you are. You can’t come to work the next day going, “Rah, rah, going to have a good time.” Because you’re not having any fun.
So the two must… it’s just life. There’s no such thing, as far as I’m concerned, as business life and home life and whatnot. It’s just life. And we spend a terrific amount of time at work with the people you work with. If your outside work life doesn’t complement your inside work life, how can you inside work life complement what the rest of the people you work with? So there’s going to be a lot of conflict there. And so that can’t be. You need to enjoy every day. That doesn’t mean there isn’t bad days and there’s days you have to deal with crappy things and whatnot, but that’s the reality of things.
So then the second piece was satisfied customers. And back in the ’90s there were car dealerships that came out with… I don’t want to say which one, but it was some national car dealership guys. They had their five star service rating and it was on top of all of their signs. And then there was the gold standard this, and there’s the prestige standard of that. And large corporations talk about this standard of service that they’re going to give. I quite simply just said, “Why don’t we just satisfy customers?” In a cell phone store, a customer may come in looking for a car charger. They want a good one for a decent price. Ta-da. There you go. There’s the car charger. Here’s our $39, out the door you go. They’re a satisfied customer. The next guy coming through may have a need for 200 phones and intricate stuff and international blah blah blah. And you spend a lot of time with that person, and they leave three weeks later, after a bunch of meetings and whatnot, a satisfied customer. Can you put forth the same effort for the one that you do for the other? Absolutely not. You just put forth the amount of effort until you have a satisfied customer. Now, if you’re in the business of being in business and you must have customers, because I don’t really know of many businesses that don’t have customers.
Dave: It’s difficult to imagine that business model.
Todd: So, I’m coming to Dave’s Computer Company, DCC Inc., for a computer. You’re having fun. You’re enjoying being in business. I come in to buy a computer. But you happen to be selling crappy computers. But I’m not smart enough to know it. I take it home, I plug it in, I turn it on. My 12-year old kid comes along and he tries to do something and says, “Dad, this computer is a piece of crap.” So I come back to you and I say, “Dave, this computer, it’s not what it should have been.” How much are you enjoying that?
Dave: I’m not having fun at all.
Todd: You just stopped having fun. Because you’re not satisfying customers. So you need to make certain that the product that you’re delivering is current and then the follow on service is what is needed to support the equipment. So we roll it back. I come in. I buy a computer. I take it home. My 12-year old kids jumps on, says, “Dad, this is a great computer.” I come back to you and I say, “Dave, thanks for the great computer.” My official 12-year old kid,”…my kids are much older than 12 years old … “says it’s a great computer.” You’ve just satisfied a customer. How much are you enjoying that transaction? You are now having fun. You cannot enjoy what you’re doing if you are not, in your business life, satisfying customers.
Dave: Yeah, and that makes the last part a lot easier, too.
Todd: You can’t satisfy customers if you are not enjoying what you’re doing. Say your passion is to be a motivation speaker or an Olympic runner or an opera singer, but you happen to be selling computers. You can fake it for a while. But at some point, you’re not having any fun anymore. If you’re not having any fun, you’re not going to be maintaining the same level of quality that you need to be in Dave’s Computer Company. Now, all of a sudden, you’re kind of selling schlock. And I’m going to start… you’re going to have customers buying something that a 12-year old kid says, “Dad, this thing is not what it should be.” You’re going to start having those customers coming back saying, “Dave, what’s up?” You are no longer going to be satisfying customers. You’re not going to be enjoying what you’re doing.
So the two absolutely go hand in hand. If you are enjoying what you’re doing and you’re satisfying customers, you will be enjoying what you’re doing. If you’re satisfying customers and you can see that it just… the two of them work absolutely in sync.
Dave: It’s like that flywheel concept of…
Todd: Yeah, absolutely.
Dave: …positive feedback.
Todd: Now you take any one of those two and throw them out of balance, at some point you are no longer going to be able to make money. Now I don’t talk about… make money, when it was up in the stores and big signs in the showrooms and whatnot, some people thought it was kind of vulgar, make money. Well, you would pull them aside and say, “Are you a satisfied customer? Do you enjoy doing business here?” “Yes.” “Would you like me to sell stuff to you at some insanely, ridiculously, low price that is below my cost of profit?” And if they answered, “Yes,” you say, “Okay, I can do that, but three months from now I’m no longer here. Now who are you going to go to for service that you enjoy and are satisfied with?” “Oh.” Yeah, we need to make money. Now, does that mean every one of us have a Ferrari parked in our driveway as our second car? We commute to work by helicopter? No.
Dave: That would be one hell of a cell phone store.
Todd: I don’t think they’ve done that well. If they did, I should have stayed in it. But it’s necessary that we make money. And so the founding principle of business is, we must make money. We need to make a profit. But that’s not the guiding piece of it.
Dave: No, and if you put it first, then it puts the other two at a lack, I would think, right?
Todd: Absolutely. You just figured it out. If you put making money first, you will not be able to satisfy customers. And if you are not able to satisfy customers, you are not going to enjoy what you’re doing, because you’re going to…
Dave: And the thing’s just not going to last. Right?
Todd: Absolutely. You will not. So yeah, that’s the…
Dave: Interesting. Now, I want to get…
Todd: I don’t know how we got there.
Dave: I don’t remember. I want to circle back to… or I mean, I want to get into HD Petroleum, but before I do, I want to circle back to one thing you said that I thought was interesting. When I asked you about the sales job that you had at the interconnect company, and you said that you had actually gotten into sales much earlier, when you were 14. Can you jump into that for us?
Todd: Yeah. Well, that would be my dad had the printing company.
Dave: Okay, so you were working for your dad from when you were 14?
Todd: Yeah. I started cleaning up, cleaning at a… I think I took the bus down to his shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays and cleaned. That’s where I started, I guess. And I look back at it now, I probably did a halfway effort and middling job, but yeah. Branched out from there, wanting to do some sales type stuff. When I say I started in sales, really it’s just been my career, if you will.
Dave: Who were you selling to at that early stage?
Todd: Well, remember I did say in high school. My high school years, my other job was cooking steaks at a Bonanza steakhouse restaurant. When I say I’ve been in sales, being in business, that’s kind of what you’re in.
Dave: Of course, you’re always selling the stuff.
Todd: You’re always selling, yeah. So that’s more what I meant by beginning, in the light of sales. I did go into the investment business and became a licensed broker and all that sort of good stuff when I was 21 years old. And that’s what I did for about four to five years. And that’s what took us out to Kelowna, B.C., and the two kids were born out there and life was good. But I became disillusioned with the industry a little bit.
Dave: With the investment industry.
Todd: Well, at the time, the fax machine and email and whatnot were starting to become a pretty standard thing in the industry. But just in the industry of business. And where I became disillusioned was some really smart individual, some analyst on Wall Street, on Young Street, somewhere would write some report. And it would get emailed out. And you’d walk up and down the hallways of the office and you would hear the other brokers speaking to their clients with a great deal of expertise on all of the analysis that they have looked at regarding the price of rice in China and the pig’s feet in… But they’re just reading off the thing that some guy had somewhere and it came out, and literally, 10 minutes later, everybody is phoning everybody as an expert. And I guess I became a little disillusioned with the industry…
Dave: It’s the idea if they’re selling expertise and they’re not delivering expertise, that’s concerning.
Todd: Yeah. And subsequent to that, I followed the industry to a certain degree. And that industry today has been forced into a much, much higher level of expertise because of the access to information that anyone can just turn it as… Google their B.S. And call it. Yeah. The level of expertise these days required by that industry is just so much higher. And so that, combined with the opportunity to move back to Saskatoon to have the family close, I sold out of my book of business there. And I think I was 26 or 27 years old and I didn’t have the gray hair and the hemorrhoids to be in that industry. I used to say that. The gray hair made it look like you knew what you were talking about. And the hemorrhoids, kind of a vulgar thing to say but anyway, gave you the look of concern that helped close the deal and get you paid.
Yeah. You looked uncomfortable while you were sitting there, so. Yeah, at that time, it was a bit of an old man’s game. But we did good. But subsequent to that, yeah, like I say, the level of expertise in that industry has really, really been heightened. And yeah, it’s actually transitioned to more of a… the youth of that industry is a lot more than what it was back two decades ago. Anyhow, there we go. Now, where are we heading here?
Dave: I just realized there was one more thing that I wanted to touch on before we dig into HD. And I know that we’ve talked about a lot of other stuff, but there’s a lot of interesting backstory here. So jumping back a little bit to your family, it sounds like your father was an entrepreneur, your grandfather was an entrepreneur. You’ve got that in your DNA, it seems like. Did you have uncles as well growing up or siblings and are they also entrepreneurs?
Todd: Yeah. Entrepreneur is a word that’s been in the dictionary for years, right?
Dave: It’s one of those words, but.
Todd: It really has become a more commonly used word in the last, I don’t know, five, six, seven years, right? And in other media things I’ve been pegged as a serial entrepreneur. I just say I’m a guy who can’t get a job anywhere so I’ve…
Dave: Yeah, no one wants to hire you so you’ve got to make it happen.
Todd: Exactly. No one wants to hire me so I’ve got to figure out some way to get it done. Yeah. My father, he was a hard-working individual. I do know a piece of his story. And I know that when he was 32 years old, which I think puts him in 1972 or thereabouts, he had saved, from nothing, with no help, because he didn’t come from an overly wealthy background, he had saved $100,000 in 1972.
Dave: 1972, and he was 32 years old.
Dave: That’s a lot of money.
Todd: That is a lot of cash at that time. Roll that forward using the rule of 72 and inflation, you’re around a million dollars saved by the time you’re 32. That’s working two, three jobs and everything you could to save. Yeah, he was extremely diligent that way. And the thing that he speaks of is whatever he was working at when he was 30 years old, he was just going to call it a day and say, “Well I guess that’s what I’m doing.” So at 32, he started a printing company. At 30, he had been working for a printing company. And so him and one of the other gentlemen that was working at the printing shop by the name of Jack Key, yeah, him and Jack started PGI, Prairie Graphics Industries, together. So then Dad was successful if you’re measuring things in monetary terms, and went on to do some development and things like that, but ultimately sold that company to my brother-in-law who was working for the company.
And Dad and I, we, at the time, couldn’t successfully dig a hole in the ground without wanting to ball peen one or the other. Yeah, we just weren’t compatible to work together. Maybe a balance between his… and we’ve never had this conversation, but maybe his excitement might be to have me work for the company combined with my youthful I-know-how-to-do-it-my-way kind of thing, not being valued in any way, shape, or form sort of thing, like being very dismissed. So I’d like to think that here I am in my career and I guess I wasn’t a complete idiot. I’ve made a… a couple of my ideas…
Dave: You’ve made some good decisions.
Todd: Yeah, a couple of them had to be good. And that really wasn’t… and I don’t really fault my father for that. Because he taught me how to use a spoon. And presumably changed my diapers. So really, what would I know about anything? So I think there was a little bit of those two things going on, and we really never worked together. So, but anyhow, that’s why I went off on my own ways. And then to roll back to my grandfather, Gramps was more of an inventor than an entrepreneur.
Dave: And just to jump in here, I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet, your grandfather invented the rotary combine. Is that correct?
Todd: Yeah. Grandpa’s the… yeah. Well he passed away November of 2011, 2012. I don’t know if you ever saw… I think it’s on our webpage and whatnot.
Dave: Yeah, yeah. No, I did a bit of research.
Todd: The National Post, Globe Mail…
Dave: Yeah, well actually, well Global Mail certainly had an article and I found a…
Todd: Yeah, they did a…
Dave: …couple other good write-ups about your grandfather.
Todd: Yeah, they did a… basically, it was a front page… not on the front, but on the business section, it was a full page obituary on my grandfather, which the gist of it was you didn’t know this man. But he…
Dave: He changed farming.
Todd: He changed what you ate for breakfast, dinner, and lunch. And really changed the farming, the process. And it is a neat story. It’s a neat story because Gramps was working for a company that was in the asphalt, in the road business. And he invented and was the shop man. And Gramps was a World War II vet and all that kind of good stuff. Had a heart defect that limited him from front line service, but he was a brilliant musician. He could play anything. Literally anything. I watched him, one time, play a toilet plunger with a piano wire strung on the thing.
Dave: You’re kidding.
Todd: Nope. And a bow made out of a straightened out coat hanger. Yeah. The guy could play anything. And I inherited his music ability in the fact that I can run an iPod. I can run my iPhone, got 5000 songs on there. And you should see how I can select music. Beyond that, I can’t successfully play a whistle, but anyhow, yeah. So Gramps, he was working for this company, and the combine problem really… if we take a step back, inventing something, there’s a process. The very first step is recognizing the problem. If you don’t know that you’re drowning in water, you’re not really going to invent swimming, because you haven’t recognized the problem. If you recognize quite quickly that I am drowning, you’re going to start trying to figure stuff out pretty quick on how to stay afloat. And that is really the beginning of invention and that is, in many ways, the brilliance. You look at Thomas Edison and all that he invented. You look at all the… Ben Franklin. Look at all the famous inventors. And the fact that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, in my opinion, is nowhere near as impressive as recognizing that there’s a need for this thing that does not exist. That there is no…
Dave: Seeing a future that no one else can see.
Todd: You’ve got no clues. You’ve got fire. You’ve got a candle. You’ve got a wax thing and a little whatever they’re called, little oil lamps. There you go. An oil lamp. Thanks for the help, Dave. Just for those… my arms are flailing here creating pictures. But he invented a light bulb. While he should be, and is, celebrated for the invention of the light bulb, but what about the fact that recognizing that there should be a light bulb? And so that’s, to me, where brilliance starts, is recognizing the problem. And in business, if you can recognize a need that isn’t there, then trying to figure out how to fill that need, if you’ve only got the brain power and the capacity to figure out 80% of it, you’re doing 100% better than anyone else, because you’re actually filling the need. You may figure the rest out in time. Someone may come along and invent a better light bulb. But you got the head start. And so what my grandpa was really good at was recognizing the ways of adapting things. However, the story… there’s been a book written about the…
Dave: What’s the book called? That’s fine. You can get back to me on it…
Todd: I’ll have to get to you on that.
Dave: …and we’ll make sure we link it on the website. [Editor’s note: Sorry…]
Todd: Yeah. The title of that. But anyhow, yeah, it’s been a book written on the history of that. And the interesting piece is the recognition of the problem actually has its roots in Manitoba. So Manitoba was the invention the swather. They had that one. And a little known fact is the actual problem of coming up with a better way of having a combine operate came from Manitoba. Two brothers down near the Souris area, the southwest corner of the province, can’t remember their names, but they experimented with a thing that they had come up with for multiples of years. Two or three, four years. And they didn’t get any further with it. But they thought they, maybe, had something so they took it to University of Saskatchewan. What was at the time called? I think, the PAMI, Prairie Agriculture Machine Industry or something, which was a division of U of S, which ultimately got spun out and is still a going concern. PAMI is still a thing in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. And had office in Humboldt, Manitoba… Humboldt, Saskatchewan, pardon me.
But the Dean of the University Ag Engineering had this problem brought to him. And they, their engineering staff in PAMI, took a couple years of trying to figure this thing out. And somewhere along the line somebody was brought in on it and he said, “I know a guy you need to talk to. He’ll figure this thing out faster than you could imagine.” And it was my grandfather. And they actually chased him for quite some time to come and take a look at this. He was working for this Asphalt Services Limited, ASL. Still a going concern in…
Dave: And so someone out there just knew that your grandfather was this guy who was incredibly gifted mechanically.
Dave: And that he was the guy who was going to be able to solve the problem.
Todd: Yep. So fast forward, fast forward 30 some years later, I was in Saskatoon, and just the way it happened is the way it worked out. It was about six weeks before my grandfather passed away. And I was visiting with him. And he was healthy right up until two days before he died. He had a heart attack and didn’t tell anybody. But yeah, the surgeon told him what the options were. He would have been 94 at the time. And the options were he needed to have surgery to salvage things or his hours were limited. And I wasn’t there but my dad was. And I was actually one of the… I believe I was the last to be able to speak to Grandpa on the phone. Yeah. So anyhow, he phoned me and wished me good luck on the project, and I was probably going through this stuff.
Anyhow, but yeah, he was able to lie back on his pillow, my dad said, and then he kind of took sort of a burst of energy and he said to the surgeon, he said, and to my dad, he said, “You better call the family. We’re going to ride her out.” And he only had about 18 hours or so left after that. However, six weeks prior to that I was visiting him. And he was 100% lucid and healthy and all that kind of good stuff. And I asked him, I said, “Gramps, the whole rotary combine thing, how long did it take you to invent it?” And he answered me this, he said, “One night.” I sort of did the same thing you did. I kind of got this look and was, “You’ve got to be kidding me. One night?” And he said, “Yeah. I looked at all that they had done. I went home. I slept on it. I woke up in the morning and I knew what the solution was. But,” he said, “it took me two and a half years to prove it.” “But I knew how I was going to do it.”
Two and a half years later they had a full-scale production thing that was commercialized and all that sort of good stuff. But yeah, he said to just… but that was the mechanical genius that he had. He just had a way of looking at things and simplifying them in a mechanical way that others would look at and go, “Wow. That makes sense. How did we not see that?” And on the HD project, we have had some of the most renowned… one individual who’s written 30 some books on waste motor oil, the impact it has and the processing that should be, Dr. James Speight. He’s a worldwide known expert. He has 30 some books you can buy off amazon.com regarding waste motor oil, has toured our facility multiple times. And another gentleman by the name of Dr. Andrew Jenkins. And Dr. Jenkins, he said to me something that was very… it was sort of a proud moment for me to hear. And this would have been after a couple years of working alongside HD on the project.
And Dr. Jenkins said, “I used to think that your grandfather was an extremely lucky man,” when he first started on this project. He said, “After a few years, I realized that he was an incredibly observant man. And that he could see cause and effect and convert it into a mechanical process.” That is traditionally, in the petroleum industry, is tackled from a petrochemical standpoint. Grandpa would tackle it from a mechanical standpoint, because that’s the way he thought. And he said, “The genius behind the simplicity of what he has created is so amazing.” But it’s one of those things of recognizing the problem, seeing what’s not there, and then being able to mechanically put something around the problem. So therein lies the brilliance behind that, recognizing what isn’t there, what is the need, and then finding a way of solving that.
Dave: Absolutely fascinating. When I was researching for this interview and I started digging… by the way, Todd’s grandpa’s name is Barney Habicht, for those of you who are listening. When I was doing the research and I came across your grandfather’s story, I was mesmerized, because that’s really… what you’ve built is really his legacy in a way. You’ve taken a technology that as far as I understand, he basically had it on paper by the time you got it. He had never actually seen it built, right?
Todd: Him and his… to say business partner is maybe even too formal, but a good friend of his worked on the project together. Grandpa was working for the waste oil… for the road construction company. That part of what they needed was a contract for waste motor oil. Back in the 1970s they dumped waste motor oil on everything. The roads in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are environmental dumpsites. They just poured waste motor oil on everything.
Dave: Okay, I didn’t know that.
Todd: And a friend of his had the contract for supplying the waste motor oil. When they’d get done the contract, rather than hauling all the waste motor oil back, because they’d be doing a road in northern Saskatchewan, rather than hauling it back on a full truck, they’d just spray it in the ditch and just dump it. Just get rid of it. Well, it was justified back then. It keeps the dust down, keeps the weeds down, all that kind of stuff. Keeps the roads clean. So that’s what was done. So hey… I don’t know if your parents… I grew up in the era when none of us kids wore helmets on our head when we pedaled bike. We still survived. So it doesn’t change the fact that it was maybe not the best thing to do spraying waste motor oil on everything. And that’s where they got thinking there must be a better way.
Now, to be clear, they had tinkered with and had built some early stage pieces. And they had proven that they could do it. And so it’s not like I took just some scratches on the back of a napkin and turned it into this thing. We had a lot of work done. But…
Dave: Okay, so there were physical prototypes, at least for components of the system.
Todd: But there was no engineering. None. There was no safety, none. I was touring through, looking at some of the stuff that they had built, and I’m looking at 3 phase 600 volt motors that the cables are clamped onto the motors with vice grips. I said, “Gramps, if anybody touched any of this stuff, it would kill you instantly.” And he looked at me like I was the dumbest person on the face of the Earth.
Dave: Don’t touch it.
Todd: Why would I… it wasn’t don’t touch it, it was like why would you touch it? I remember standing there. I was like, “Well I didn’t say I was going to touch it.” He says, “I know you didn’t say you were going to touch it. I’m asking why would you touch it?” “Well I’m not saying what I’m going to do.” “Well,” he says, “why would you?” “Okay, forget it.” So we move on. And then there was some components that were outdoors and there was exposed electrical and stuff. And I said to Gramps, I said, “What do you do when it rains?” And he looked at me the same thing and he said, “Put on rubber boots.” Like, what else do you do when it rains? It was like, okay, forget it.
So there were a lot of environmental rig and all environmental. There was no permitting for nothing. They had nothing. There was no regulatory, no environmental, no anything, but they had definitely proven that they could fracture the hydrocarbon molecule, a 42 chain long hydrocarbon molecule that is the waste oil molecule and turn it into a range between C15 to C25, which is in the sweet spot of the diesel fuel range, and make a very good diesel fuel on a small scale prototype basis. So that’s where we started with and then ran forward. So just to be clear, it wasn’t just Gramps. Gramps brought the project to me. And I guess I breathed life into the start they had. But really, what he brought was, again, that recognition of the problem. And Grandpa hadn’t really recognized the global problem. That really wasn’t his gig. It wasn’t his thing. And when I first started flipping through the folder on the very first day when I pulled it out of my desk, I didn’t recognize the global problem. I didn’t even… I knew nothing. But by the end of the day, started to see that there was an opportunity here.
Over the course of the next year, I wrote a fairly comprehensive business plan involving a terrific amount of travel and research into this waste motor oil thing. And I started here in Manitoba. Because that’s where I lived. Hey, if it works here, I wonder if it’ll work in Saskatchewan. That’s where they were. Maybe it’ll work there. So I did my market research there. I went, “I guess it’ll work there.” Went to Alberta, did a bunch of research out there. I went, “Son of a gun, I think this thing will work there.” My sister and her husband and two kids live in Montana. Went from Alberta, not from Alberta, but we went there for a family vacation for Christmas or something. While I’m here I may as well do some research in Montana, so took a couple extra days and did some research there. Son of a gun, it’ll work there. Looked in North Dakota and then Minnesota. And by that time I had done Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota. I sort of did a loop. And so to a certain degree it’s a little bit embarrassing that I had covered so much ground and so much territory before I went, “Wait a second, if it’ll work in all of these places, I wonder if it’ll work on a broader scale.”
Dave: So what were you looking… like when you say that you did some research and figured out that it would work, are you talking about the economic viability? You’re checking how much is going to cost to get the oil? And how much money do I get for the diesel? And how much does it cost to build this?
Todd: Economic viability, regulatory environment, ensuring that there were no challenges from a technology standpoint, elevation-based, atmospheric pressure. Things like that. Those are base, rudimentary things, but really testing the business model to see if it’ll work here, will it work there? And there turned out to be wow, there is an opportunity all over the world.
Dave: Now, another thing that you mentioned a little bit earlier, was that when you… you had put the papers that your grandpa had given you in your desk and you came back to them later. And that day when you were looking at them, you did a series of Google searches and you called it a Google business plan. So at that point, you were, I guess, doing some kind of market validation just by searching. What were you looking for at that point?
Todd: Yeah, I was just looking to see if it could be done.
Dave: And so what were you looking for? Were you Googling “can I turn motor oil into diesel”?
Dave: And what did you find when you looked for that?
Todd: There wasn’t a lot.
Dave: Okay, so there was no one else doing it. Did you find people that wanted to do it? How did you identify the need?
Todd: I started to find out that… so then I started to branch into… Gramps said they could do it. So just because Google isn’t really supporting it at the time, people who trusted Gramps said he could do it. So what is the business case? So then I just started to pull on the loose thread on the sweater kind of thing and see if I can unravel this snarl of potential. I don’t know if that’s the most eloquent metaphor to paint the picture, but you just start…
Dave: I don’t know, it makes sense.
Todd: …pulling on… and you’re sitting at your desk and you can travel halfway around the world by Googling something and just find out what there is. Subsequent to that, over the course of the many years now, there’s a lot of information about waste motor oil to diesel. And there’s a lot of information about us and whatnot.
Dave: Okay, so you had done the initial search on Google and then you did some research in some different locales in North America, and you decided that this was a viable company everywhere. What were the first steps to actually… so you had these plans and some early prototypes of the different pieces. And you had a sense that the business was viable. What next?
Todd: Yep, so probably there would be some engineering. And some of the other pieces that were required.
Dave: So you hired in some engineers.
Todd: Yep, yep.
Dave: You showed them what you had and…
Todd: We brought in some engineering and then there was some prototype stuff that was done to create some samples that we could send off to federal, government recognized laboratories to do analyses.
Dave: Okay, were these standards associations?
Todd: Yeah. ASTM, ASDM, D975, CGSB. The Canadian and U.S. standards. And so we sent off to see where we were. We sent off this nice, little vial of fuel. And you’re waiting to hear back. You have no idea if they’re going to come back saying, “This stuff is complete crap,” or if it’s going to come back and you’re going to be, “Wow, this stuff is actually diesel.” And that’s what it came back as. Yes, there were areas of improvement. There were also… 95% of the individual tests that make up the whole test we were actually exceeding and were a superior quality petroleum product.
Dave: And this was in your initial samples, you were already…
Dave: …overshooting in several categories.
Todd: Now, there was some areas that we needed improvements in. And so those have been dealt with. So then it was…
Dave: Were you surprised? Sorry to interrupt. Were you surprised at that point? You basically took the plan that your grandpa and his friend had put together and, I assume, put some money into it, developing it to a point, right?
Todd: Oh, yeah.
Dave: And then you send it off, and you get these results back. Was that a happy surprise? Was that a relief?
Todd: Yeah. I bootstrapped the company for the first four years.
Dave: So it was you. You were funding it for the first…
Todd: Yeah, I funded the first four years of the company. And tell you what, I can answer your question by a phone call I had with my gramps. I rang him up to review the analyses with him. And try and guess what his response was.
Dave: “I told you so”?
Todd: His was, “Why did you send it away to get it tested?”
Dave: “Why would you do that?”
Todd: “How much did you spend?” So I told him how much I spent on it. He’s like, “Why? What? I told you it was good fuel.” “Well, yes, I know, but…”
Dave: Oh, your grandpa sounds like a fun man.
Todd: Just because you said it was good fuel doesn’t exactly mean that it’s going to meet BP Petroleum or ConocoPhillips or Shell Oil standards. I can’t just really write down, “My Gramps said so.” Signed it, stamped it, and that’s my new ASTM standard. The standard of Grandpa Barney. So anyhow, we… Yeah, we bootstrapped her the first four years. Engineering, revolving process. We took it to a point where the next step was to build, which we did in 2010, the HD Petroleum Research and Development Center, located down near Letellier, Manitoba, on a piece of property that the province of Manitoba owns, called the Manitoba Hazardous Waste Management Corporation, MHWMC. Basically it’s a section of land that the province owns that a terrific amount of research had been done as to where in the province would be the best place to locate a piece of property that it would be far enough away from civilization, but yet close enough that it would be convenient, that could have the express purpose of handling, transferring, and processing of Manitoba generated hazmat material. So we’re located on that site. And we share the site with… the lead tenant is Miller Environmental. They’re an environmental hazmat company in the city to deal with… or the province … they deal with just a whole host of things. In a hospital, it’d be kind of old-fashioned, but an old-fashioned thermometer gets dropped on the floor and it busts and the mercury comes out.
Dave: Someone has to…
Todd: These are the guys that come in with the suits and they clean that up. You’ve got a regular something or another thing that produces some sort of a byproduct that needs to be turned into a pH level inert something or another. And they’ve got the chemists and the blending, and so they come by and routinely pick up your stuff and take it down. They would process farmers’ leftover chemical bottles. Those all go to a depot. They get picked up. Miller Environmental manages the cleansing and the recycling of those plastics. So it’s a good fit. They were there and we built our brand new facility. That was supported from… it was actually our second capital that was debt. So we actually raised a lot of debt before… not before… equity because I bootstrapped the first four years of equity. But we had a business development bank, BDC. Lady by the name of Jana Schultz, who is now one of the senior managers in the Winnipeg region here for corporate work with BDC. Took me on as a challenge that was a long shot. And total coincidence, turned out that her and I went to the exact same high school in Saskatoon.
So I think there was a little bit of a common bond there. So she kind of gave it a little extra effort. And so we got our first loan from BDC and never missed a payment and life is good there. Then with support of the business develop… with Western Economic and Diversification. So the federal government helped us out with the building. And so now we have this research and development center built with nothing in it. So then I picked up all the scrap pieces. And at that point I purchased it from my gramps and his buddy. What they had cobbled together, what they had built. Not wanting to make light of what they had done, but none of it was certifiable, none of it met any code. But we brought it in there and assembled together and brought up to all of the codes that we could meet that were required, like your electrical codes and all your safety codes and whatnot. Those we… did that. And we had to operate it as a research and development thing. Because it wasn’t something that had been engineered and built in a code shop and met all of… it was a thing my grandpa and his buddy had welded together.
And some of the stuff that I subsequently invented… invented is such a big word, but there were areas that I knew that we needed to make improvements. I researched those, came up with some ideas, and took those to the engineering firm and said, “Hey, can you design this thing?” So they do all the code calcs and I got the framework sketched up. We built it, incorporated it into the process. And fired the sucker up. And lo and behold, didn’t take us too very long and we were making diesel fuel. We could never sell any of that diesel fuel because that would have put us extremely off-side with a lot of regulatory bodies because we would have then commercialized and we would no longer be falling under this thing of R&D. So we never sold any of the fuel. But we sent lots of it away for analyses and kept it as our processed fuel to just…more work. To run the machine more often. So that was a fairly expensive endeavor where you’re making hamburgers. We’re making beef. We’re making hamburgers.
Dave: You’re making beef and you’re throwing it out.
Todd: But we’re eating them all. We had to eat all of our finished products. So if you got a Chinese buffet and you’re having to eat all the food you’ve cooked, it’s a tough business model to run but we did. We ran that long enough…
Dave: What was the timeframe there when the Letellier R&D thing came up?
Todd: Well, it was a couple years, I suppose, from the time we built it to the start of the building. Then incorporated the equipment, brought it all up to the code that we could, operated it for quite some time. And operating it for some time, there were multiple moving parts, so some of the time we’d only be running one of the parts just to learn the balance point on that thing, because there was no manual for…
Dave: You were creating it.
Todd: We were figuring this sucker out as we went. So Jack Winram, our VP of Ops, he had duct tape pieces on the floor, little Xs on the floor, that he had written with Jiffy markers. Places that he would stand and that would be a point. And then you would have places on the equipment that he’d have a bulls-eye, that he would take thermal readings. So he’d walk around. So there’s pressure, temperatures, all these things and we’re wandering around. And so we would adjust a valve and then wait for a couple minutes for things to balance out and then take new readings from all these places throughout the machine to see what was the cause and effect. And we learned the process. We learned how it worked. And so ta-da. We were making diesel fuel.
Dave: And then what was the next step?
Todd: Well, concurrently, along that line, somewhere along the line there, we participated in the first Centrallia. At the same time that…
Dave: For those who don’t know, and I may be getting this wrong, so please correct me if I’m wrong, but Centrallia is a conference that allows you to do… it’s hosted here, am I right? And it’s B2B meetings with vendors and clients from around the world and it’s…
Todd: Yep. And it’s sort of a speed dating for businesses. So there was that and then there was an international trade magazine that rang me up and did an interview. Funny thing was, I didn’t know it was an international trade magazine. I didn’t know what it was. I just gave the interview. And overnight, after that Centrallia event and the interview came out… the interview would have been first, the publication would have been first and then Centrallia.
Dave: How did that publication find you, by the way? Do you know?
Todd: I don’t know how they… There had been a small article put in the newspaper because of the Western Economic Diversification money. So there was some… there was an announcement with… if I remember, Parliament Vic Toews. Vic, he was…
Dave: Member of Parliament…
Todd: …Minister of…
Dave: …for out by Lorette, right?
Todd: Yeah, he was the south Manitoba whatever they call that riding at the time. I think Ted Falk is now the MP there. But the, yeah, he was Minister of… he was the regional Minister. And so he made the announcement. And so that was it. Ta-da, there’s our press piece. And I think that was from there. And people were Googling just waste motor oil to diesel. What to do with waste motor oil challenge.
So we went to Centrallia. We really didn’t know what it was and, to be quite honest, I didn’t have the time. I was so busy. And we actually hired a third party consultant to go there, because thankfully, Mariette Mulaire, who is now the head of World Trade Center Winnipeg branch and Centrallia’s underneath her portfolio. And she stayed after us to be a part of that thing. And I had no idea what it was and I had no time. And I told her so. I said, “I don’t have time to… I don’t even know what this thing is, but I’m swamped.” And I don’t really want to afford the entrance fee to this thing. And I don’t really have time to go. I’m going to have to hire somebody who’s done some consulting work before for HD to go. I don’t have… it’s just a snowball effect here. And long story short, they cut me a deal that any money I spent on the consultant, they would knock off the admission fee.
So it was great, worked out great for me. And so we did. And I remember Bob Axford phoning me on a Wednesday at about 1:30 after he had picked up our packet of the speed dating thing. And with Centrallia, you have two meetings, seven meeting, two days. Pardon me. You have seven meetings per day, two days. Fourteen meetings. You put your profile up and then other people put their profile up and you can click and click and click, and if there’re any matches, then they get made. And there’s your schedule. Now, in the early days, if we can get 7 to 8 matches out of 14, absolute home run. If you’re a big name business, you’re going to get all 14. But for a young startup kind of thing if you can just get a few good matches, that’s a home run.
So anyhow, Bob rang me up and I was down at the plant. And he said, “I don’t know what you were planning on doing Thursday or Friday, but you have to be at this thing.” I said, “Bob, I can’t.” And he said, “We have 64 meetings.” He’s like, “There’s just no physical way that we can get these things done.” Oops. So, okay. Cancel whatever I was doing for Thursday or Friday down at the plant, and put on a suit and show up. And the Centrallia people did a wonderful job of managing and splitting Bob and my schedule up. And we basically tag teamed. And I remember one of the interviews, one of the meetings, whatever you want to call it, with a lovely Asian fellow. It was being translated and the translator was doing a wonderful job and all that sort of good stuff. And I just had to interrupt and say, “I am so sorry. Please apologize, but it has been seven hours since I’ve been able to go to the washroom, and I need…” or six hours. They were going right through lunch breaks, right through coffee breaks, everything. It’s like, “I have to go to the bathroom.” And I knew full well it was going to throw the whole schedule off. Or that guy’s time was basically… it was done.
So I just apologized, bowed, they took a picture and I went to the washroom, came back, sat at my table. And I started at 6 in the morning and went through until later in the evening. And Bob was doing the same thing. And so we came away from there with a little bit of a…
Dave: When was this, by the way?
Todd: Was that 2011? Centrallia 2011? Might have been. Yeah, we just came away with a blown mind at… I don’t like to say I always knew the potential because that does sound somewhat pretentious. But after my year of research, I was confident that there was a global demand, is maybe the way I like to phrase it. But to have…
Dave: To have them come to you.
Todd: And to be validated with the need from firsthand experience of people from all these different countries around the world telling you what their need is, okay, we knew we had something. That it was a worthy cause, it was a worthy effort. We had found and recognized the need that really wasn’t addressed before. And we were able to bring the equipment that Gramps and his buddy had started, plus the additions and the improvements that we had made to the challenge, which actually was a very monumental shift for the company because what started out me starting this one little micro-refinery, which we ultimately came to call it here in Manitoba, changed. It now became we need to build this thing for the world.
And at that time, Jack Winram, who was the VP of Ops, he was the one who said, “You know, we can continue down this road of making fuel here, but we need to really look at the process of reviewing the engineering to meet all of the global standards.” And I love Jack for it and I curse him all the same, because it was a really simple sentence to say and son of a gun, we’ve been working on it for four years. But we’re there. We’re in the final stages of commercializing. But that simple little sentence, “I think we need to review and meet the engineering standards around the world,” it was about a $5 million bill and four years of engineering. And there is no engineering firm anywhere in the world that specializes in what we do. You want to build a building, go to those guys. You want to build a bridge, go to those guys. You want to build an electrical, go to those guys. You want to build an airplane, go to those guys. You want to build a waste motor oil to diesel, there isn’t those guys. There are pockets of expertise that we found that had experience in another unrelated thing that we felt might be useful.
As we had to pull those guys, go visit with them, show them, present them, and say, “Do you think your thing, in your thinking, can actually help in this way?” And so the list of engineering firms that have collaborated with us on this is long. And so yeah, there was quite a while we just called Jack the engineer wrangler, because that was what he did. He just worked with the engineering firms. And yeah, we’ve crisscrossed North America and across the big pond as well, of engineering support on this thing. So it has become… That was a big challenge to maintain the value of the company that we were able to subsequently do the capital raises necessary to feed the machine of engineering. Professional service providers, they like to get paid. And so they should be. So yeah, making certain we had the capital necessary to be able to meet the needs was a big challenge.
Dave: No kidding. So you got all these engineers and you had to raise a bunch of capital for it. I apologize, I’m kind of jumping around but my brain just went there. So your first capital, you put in your own money.
Dave: And then there was BDC. And then there were some, if I understand correctly, some government grants and some government supported programs.
Dave: And then were you raising it from investors after that point or how did that go?
Todd: We did a convertible note, was our first public… It’s not really a public offering, but it’s a convertible note to venture. And then each time we raised capital, we never raised capital saying this is all we’re going to need. We raised capital with this is the goal and this is the next hurdles. And when we get to those hurdles, if we’re able to solve them, we believe we will have increased the value of. But until we get to the end, that’s really where we…
Dave: So you’re still in the building phase and at each phase you’re giving investors an incentive for investing in that phase because you’re going to be increasing the total value of the company. Now, with this most recent phase that you’ve completed… are you saying you’re almost completed or are completed?
Todd: The construction piece? Yeah, if I were to show you the pictures of what’s down there, we have all the major components are on-site with the exception of three that need to come in by crane through the roof of the building. And we’re just waiting on the concrete to finish curing so that they can support the load. It looks like a birthday cake right now with…
Dave: And so, when this one’s done, it’s going to be according to all the standards that you’ve been paying engineers around the world to…
Todd: Sure hope so. That’s the…
Dave: That’s the plan.
Todd: That’s what they tell me.
Dave: All right.
Todd: So yeah, we’ll be fully stamped, certified, ready to rock and roll. Be the first of what we’ve ever done here in the world, done in little, sleepy old Manitoba.
Todd: And the first refinery of its kind here in Manitoba, here anywhere. And so yeah, we’re pretty excited to begin the commission process.
Dave: As you should be. So you’ve described what happened until now and you’ve gone over the “at what cost?” to some extent.
Dave: Obvious question, “and what then?”
Todd: The “and then what?” So the “and then what” is the international demand has not slowed down at all. And there has been a… for myself anyhow, it’s been a privilege but it also is pretty… cost, capital-wise as well as takes a bit of a toll on the body. A lot of international travel, meeting with different levels of government, different interested parties around the world. And as we sit here right now, I’m struggling with a 14 hour time change, having just come back from meeting with the government of East Timor, which is in the southern Indonesian Islands. And so I just got back a couple days ago. And so right now, it’s whatever time it is. It’s maybe 4 in the afternoon.
Dave: It’s just after 4, yeah.
Todd: So that would be… 14 hours ahead is 2 o’clock in the morning or something like that.
Dave: Well you’re doing pretty good. You don’t seem like you’re fading yet.
Todd: No, it’d be 6 in the morning, I guess. So yeah. So it’s taken me all over the world. So the “and then what” is HD, through some absolutely brilliant work from a gentleman by the name of Doug Kroeker, who came to us through a presentation that we made to Manitoba Hydro International. MHI is a division of Manitoba Hydro that does two things: either gas or electrical transmission work, internationally. They’ve got a lot of expertise because of the work that Manitoba Hydro does. And Manitoba Hydro incorporated with a company by the name of Centra Gas, which was a natural gas company and all that sort of good stuff. And so this little offshoot of individuals worked for MHI. And MHI predominantly dealt with energy distribution that came from international sources, like international companies or countries that came from diesel generated electricity. And one of their biggest limitations was access to diesel.
And so we saw it as an opportunity to work with them as waste motor oil value-added to diesel, value-added to electrical distribution. Well why not take the double jump on your value add? So we made a presentation to that company probably three years ago. And just through the sands of time and whatnot, an opportunity came for Doug to… he actually rang us up and said, “Hey, I’ve got some ideas. I’d like to talk to this individual, Sheik somebody, about your thing. I’d like to talk to the head of this country about your thing.” Companies and individuals that he had dealings with prior to, from MHI. And so we said, “Well, sure. Have them sign an NDA and all that sort of good stuff. And so Rashid, in our office, will take care of that. He handles all of our intellectual property work.” Fantastic lawyer who emigrated from London, England to Winnipeg, to work for HD Petroleum and has done all of our…
Dave: He came here specifically for HD?
Todd: Yeah, crazy as… And the winters.
Dave: And the winters, that’s what he really wanted, yeah.
Todd: And the big backyards. Rashid and his wife and his two lovely, just the cutest little twins, Paolo and Maria, are… yeah, he came from living in a downtown London, England flat. And prospects of raising a family there and his wife is from Greece and they could see the horizons of that. And so, yeah, they wanted to move someplace. And he actually had some family connections in Winnipeg.
And so we met. I actually met him through his father’s restaurant. That’s how we met Rashid and he recognized that we had a need. I knew we had this need. And the problem is we really couldn’t afford to do the level of patent work that we needed through the traditional means. And he was looking for a way to emigrate here and brought just an amazing set of skills to the table for us. So Rashid would manage the NDAs with Doug. And Doug would go on and do this stuff. Now Doug was “representing” HD for probably a year before we sat down and said, “Maybe we should actually formalize this relationship.” And so we did and life was so busy that we… Doug was officially working with HD. And I bet you it was six months before him and I finally got around to actually signing the contract. And we did it in a hotel lobby in Washington D.C., because that was when we finally had time to sign it. So we were there on some very exciting business. But anyhow, yeah, that was when we finally had a chance to sit down and sign it. So we operated on a handshake and good faith for that first part of time.
So yeah, Doug has done some amazing work for the business development side. So the “and then what” is we now have a terrific amount of opportunity to joint venture with businesses and governments around the world on our technology. And all of that is triggered by our first unit, which the lead engineer group, our manufacturing partner, based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who Jack, doing his engineer wrangling… ultimately we were so fortunate to cross paths with a gentleman by the name of David Schmidt there, who has done a terrific amount to move the ball further down the field, so to speak. So yeah, so then working with our manufacturing partner down there, and then Doug doing his work, we have developed a joint venture model where we will be having an ownership position and operation and management of all of these facilities that come online. So yeah, it’s very exciting. The dollars and pennies, the make money associated to the have fun and satisfying customers that we’re doing is substantial. And we have a lot of shareholders in HD as an exempt market operating like a public company with a Board of Directors and auditing financials and meeting all of the securities laws that are required.
It’s going to be a very, very exciting finish to the year 2015. So as our unit comes online, it triggers the binding conditions of these contracts. So then we have to figure out how to build all of the things. And our manufacturing partner is… the entire Board of Directors of HD was down touring his facilities a couple weeks back and seeing the future plans on how we’ll meet the demand.
Dave: Sorry to rewind a bit. Maybe you said this and I just misunderstood, but are you saying that you already have contracts to actually build… it’s not just a question of an opportunity for joint ventures, but you actually have contracts to build in various locales? Is that right?
Todd: Yes. We… Doug had… to say a mandate isn’t really the right word. That sounds too formal for what it was. It was sort of a here’s how much manufacturing we think we can do in the next year or two. Go see if you can sell it. The problem is, Doug has come back and he’s actually oversold our manufacturing capacity by an order of about tenfold.
Dave: Oh my goodness. Well, that’s a good problem to have.
Todd: Well, yeah, it is, but it’s a challenge when we’re trying to figure out…
Dave: But it’s still a problem. Yeah.
Todd: …how are we going to meet the manufacturing demand that we have.
Todd: So we’re working on that.
Dave: Well, that’s really exciting.
Todd: Sort of building the runway as the airplane’s in the air. We’ll have the… we expect to have the capacity built in time that it takes to… when we need it. When we’ve got to land that plane, we’ll have the runway ready to go.
Todd: Yeah, so that’s sort of what we’re working on there. It’s definitely a big challenge.
Dave: That’s crazy. So I guess the next phase is just… of HD is just going to building in a bunch of different places, right?
Dave: And how long do you see that taking? Is that until the end of time? Is HD building out its empire or what are the next steps after that if there are any?
Todd: So telling a lie is maybe too big of a word. It’s maybe too dark of a place to go. But I’ve told my wife in all our married life, maybe three not-so-truths.
Dave: Not entirely truth.
Todd: Yeah. First one was I convinced her that I was good looking.
Dave: There you go.
Todd: Second one, I convinced her that we’ll be rich. So yeah, I didn’t turn out to be so good looking, middle-aged fat man and all. And maybe now that we really… we’ve had our lean days and we’ve had our times that we wondered how we were going to pay next month’s power bill, but at the same time we’ve never really struggled for food or a place to have a roof over our heads. So I guess we just told a little bit of a… stretched that there. The third one, is I told her this project would only take a couple years. And here we are six years later, but the problem is each time we were getting close to that place where we would celebrate a milestone, it’s grown so much larger, we’re not doing university math. We’re not doing kindergarten math anymore. And so the project just continued to grow. And it has been a bit of a source of frustration in that we’ve never really been able to stop and go, “Ta-da. We made it.”
Dave: Yeah, there’s no room to breathe.
Todd: When we ran the plant and we made diesel fuel, you’d think we’d be celebrating all over the place. Problem was, we now had international interest coming out of our ears. So then, well, the fact that we did it is great, but we now have to reengineer it so we can meet this demand. So we meet the demand, we meet the engineering. Problem is, then Doug when out and oversold. We laugh and joke about it like, “Slow down, Doug,” but it’s just the demand is there. So we don’t even get to really celebrate that part because now we have to figure out how we need to build a whole bunch more. Nice problems to have. No one’s complaining, but at the same time, they are real world problems. You can’t be making commitments and then not being able to deliver on them. So it definitely is a challenge, right?
So, the “and then what,” what happens after that? Well then it’s just, yeah, let’s start building these things. They’re very modular. They’re relatively easy to transport. They’re four or five shipping containers kind of thing. They’re more than you want falling on your toe. Each one weighs between 30,000 and 40,000 pounds. But transportable, go around the world, and then we do have other opportunities with slight adaptions of the technology that we’re all very well aware of. Our internal lead engineer, Heather Stone, who is one of, if not the only… I don’t know how many petrochemical engineers there are in Manitoba with the amount of process experience that she has in the small… comes from a biodiesel background. She’s a chemi, a petrochemical engineer. And working with Heather and some of the demands that Doug has been bringing back saying, “Hey, can we do this?” And Heather having to roll up her sleeves and dig into that challenge has been able to show that there is actually other opportunities to adapt the technology to other requirements, that it can be used in the environmental field of cleaning up problems in the petroleum industry. So there’s that. And that opportunity absolutely eclipses the original one.
Dave: Yeah, a whole other door just opened with a bunch of paths that go out from there.
Todd: It’s not a door. It’s such a rabbit hole. And it’s exciting. And the challenge is we’re actually not even able to say no to it. It’s coming at us. So we’re having to deal with it right now. But it is taking the manufacturing side that we thought we needed to meet, and potentially… we’re not there yet, we haven’t signed the deals but there is some good faith senior level discussions going on that would put us in a place where our manufacturing requirements could absolutely eclipse anything we thought we needed before. That said, the whole thing could fall apart and there’s nothing to do come next Tuesday. We’re not on that front as far as the other adaption potentials, we’re not there yet. But yeah, it looks very promising. And we’ll see where that takes us. So that will take the company into a height over the course of the next 12 to 18 months that is substantially different than what it is today. Even just the original process of doing these joint ventures on waste motor oil conversion to diesel fuel, the company is gearing up for some very substantial growth phase.
Earlier on in the discussion, the people listening probably won’t know that we had to pause and I had to jump out and take a phone call. That was to deal with some of those very important to the company, eminent things that are being done right now. And I had to be involved in a couple of left or right kind of decisions. And so those had to do with preparing us for this growth phase that we’re facing in the next couple months, starting. And it could be as early as about two weeks from now.
Dave: Well that’s very exciting. It sound like the sky is the limit for what you guys are doing. I’m very conscious of the clock right now. Just know this, I could talk about this for hours, but I’m sure that you’ve got things to do and places to be so thanks so much for your time, Todd. I really appreciate it.
Todd: It’s been an absolute pleasure, Dave.