Former Saultite Looks to Bring Manufacturing Operation Here

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At The Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship are (L to R) the SSMEDC’s John Febbraro, Scott Irwin from Purus Fuel Technologies, and the SSMEDC’s Dan Hollingsworth.

A former resident of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario is looking to expand his manufacturing company back to his hometown after opening an initial production facility in the United
States.

Purus Fuel Technologies, Inc. (PFT) was launched in January 2013 by Scott Irwin, a local entrepreneur now located in Peru, Illinois. Mr. Irwin has spent the last 15 years developing fuel system cleaning products and distributing automotive maintenance and repair products in the midwest U.S. PFT is a subsidiary of 3 Rivers Automotive Technologies, LLC and a sister company of Chi Personal Environment Services, LLC and Vehicle Service Partners, Inc.

The company’s American manufacturing facility is located in an old clock factory in Peru, Illinois. The assembly room for its machines is decorated with faux windows with views of Rock Lake, Ontario, located just north of Bruce Mines where Mr. Irwin’s parents reside. Mr. Irwin was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and graduated from Sir James Dunn C&VS (1985), the University of Western Ontario (Bsc. Economics and Finance 1988) and Lake Superior State University (MBA 1992).

PFT has developed a patent pending machine, the IC‐2, to deliver its proprietary cleaners to improve the ability for dealerships and repair facilities to maintain the efficiency of their customers’ gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines.

Gasoline direct injection (GDI) is now becoming the dominant engine design for the world’s car makers to meet more stringent corporate average fuel economy. In gasoline direct injection, the fuel injectors are located in the cylinders, instead of in the intake of the engine. This provides for greater efficiency and more power with smaller and lighter engines. It does create operating problems because the valves of engines were kept clean by the detergents in the fuel that was sprayed on the valves. The fuel spray in GDI is now after the valves, so valve deposits become a serious operating issue for customers and a warranty problem for the car makers.

“I spent virtually every day for 13 years in repair facilities with mechanics talking about and looking at deposit problems, especially in the new GDI engines, and thinking about how to address them better,” said Scott Irwin, Founder and President of PFT. “By 2013, I knew what needed to be done to address these issues and I decided it was time to take the risk and launch Purus Fuel Technologies.”

The company initiated sales of its machines in the U.S. and southern Ontario in June 2016. It was immediately obvious that supplying Canada from Illinois would be difficult in a period of fluctuating exchange rates between the U.S. and Canada. Mr. Irwin also wanted to provide an All Canadian product for the Canadian market and to have an opportunity to have a Canadian base to export from. He decided to build the beauty of the Sault Ste. Marie area into his marketing.

“Most of my U.S. customers are 20 to 50‐year‐old men who work as mechanics and shop owners and dream about a fishing or hunting trip in the Canadian north,” he said. “Having a facility in the Sault would allow us to host training events here before heading out for the outdoors. Our customers love the idea of being in the Canadian North any season of the year. I think a facility in the Sault will help us in our marketing and sales. Of course, our Canadian customers will look forward to training trips in Las Vegas and Florida.”

The company would initially employ five to begin production in the Sault, with the expectations of increasing employment to 18 ‐ 24 with the initiation of blending and packaging of its chemicals within 36 months.

Mr. Irwin is working with the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation to identify potential brown field sites for light industrial for its assembly facility, to identify potential venture capital partners for the Canadian company, to find local suppliers for its bill of materials for the equipment assembly, and for potential distribution partners in the Northern Ontario market. 3 Rivers Automotive Technologies is in the process of organizing a Canadian company and recruiting initial employees with automotive service abilities and is looking to develop relationships with the Sault College automotive technician apprenticeship program.

The initial set‐up in Sault Ste. Marie will be at The Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship.
“Supporting entrepreneurs in their start‐up and expansion initiatives is a key priority for our
organization,” said John Febbraro, Director of Business Development for the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “We have been working with Mr. Irwin for several months, and we look forward to continuing to work with him on establishing an operation here in Sault Ste. Marie.”

The 3 Rivers Automotive Technologies companies manufacture and distribute a full line of automotive service equipment and chemicals for all vehicle systems. The firm also has an operating company that supplies sanitizing and deodorizing products and services.
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