Everyone in yachting is welcome to join us, tour the place, and check out the different products they invented. (Please be aware that road work has closed Old Griffin Road west of Trac’s facility, so be sure to enter from US1 to the east.)
Until then, learn more about this 23-year-old business from company president Patrick Leclerc.
Q. Tell us about Trac Ecological.
Our original descaler was developed by my father in Montreal in 1981 and used in all types of industrial and commercial applications throughout Canada. Trac Ecological was started when he came to retire in Florida in 1996 and ended up creating Barnacle Buster, our flagship product.
My dad was out boating with a friend when the engine overheated due to what turned out to be calcium buildup in the seawater cooling system. When he found out that it was a major issue in the marine industry, he went to work for a year and after a lot of trial and error, Barnacle Buster was born.
When we first started, we were a service company, but we were receiving requests from end users and marine dealers to use our Barnacle Buster themselves, so we started bottling it in 1998.
My father has since retired and, in 2005, Trac welcomed Kevin Greene to the family as an equal partner. From then on, we switched our main focus from service to product sales, which have become the majority of our business. We still offer our descaling services but only to megayachts in Florida and near Savannah.
Our product line has also grown over the years to a full line of descalers for all types of water systems, as well as a tea tree oil air freshener, degreasers, boat soaps and a coil cleaner. All are, of course, non-toxic, biodegradable and safe for the environment.
Q. You introduced a new odor-eliminating product a couple years ago. Tell us about that.
That would be TEAgel, our latest product that is a tea tree oil-based air freshener that on average costs 70 percent less than the competition. Like the leading brand, we use 100 percent Australian tea tree oil imported from Australia with a concentration of 14 percent, the highest in the industry. We also add a lemon-infused tea tree oil that is also imported from Australia and what gives our TEAgel its unique fragrance.
The quality products we are known for producing at the price we are able to offer them is hard to compete with. We more than doubled our production each year since we’ve launched TEAgel in 2015. You could say we are taking some big chunks out of the tea tree oil air freshener market right now, and I love it.
Q. Yachts are only a piece of your business. Who else uses your products?
The marine industry is where all our efforts are concentrated. We pride ourselves on this as most of our competitors are not marine based like we are, so we have a great knowledge base and know what our customers need. With the success we’ve achieved in the megayacht industry, we’ve been able to develop a strong following in the 30- to 80-foot range of vessels and we are seeing a lot of growth in that market, so that’s been really fun.
Our descalers are, of course, used in commercial, institutional and industrial applications on chillers, cooling towers, boilers, and all types of heat exchangers all over the world. Our TEAgel is also used in restaurants, public bathrooms and even hospitals, so we are involved in multiple industries, but that’s a small percentage of what we do compared to marine.
Q. Do you sell these products from your office here in South Florida?
We started off with direct sales to the consumer but over the years our business has developed in such a way that we are now mostly business-to-business. Our products are available worldwide via a network of distributors and dealers, so it has become hard for us to sell direct as we do not want to compete with them. Now, any captain in the area who wants to deal with us directly can. Our staff and factory dogs will be happy to greet and serve them.
Q. Tell us about your staff and team.
Mike Marineau is our lead technician on service and he’s been with us for 12 years. He interacts directly with captains and engineers to coordinate and perform our flushing services for all types of water systems all over Florida and is often seen around the local shipyards with our newest tech, Ronald Smouthers.
Brian Bennett is our in-house sales representative and does all the trade shows nationwide for us. He’s been with us for years and in the industry for close to 15 years.
Matt Carroll is our office manager and is fairly new in the industry but he’s learning quickly. He’s the first person people see when they stop in for a visit, with the barking pooches, of course.
Q. What’s next for Trac Ecological?
After seeing 11 percent growth in 2017 and 19 percent in 2018, we figured it was time for a new website. To that end, we hired a new marketing team in late 2018 and launched a new website in mid-March that allows the end customers to easily find support documents such as instructions, technical data sheets and SDSs, as well as locate our products around the world via our dealer locator.
This year, we are working on improving our facility and internal systems to help us manage our growth. It’s a nice problem to have, I must admit. We are also always working on new accessories to make using our Barnacle Buster and other products easier, so keep a look out later for something new.
Q. Tell us a little about you.
I have worked in the family business of industrial descaling services since I was 18, so this business is in my blood. The marine industry was all new to me in 1997 when I moved to Florida. I had an industrial background, and how we approach things could not be further then how we do things in the marine industry. So I learned to descale boat systems the hard way, with lots of trial and error, you could say. Since then, and with Kevin’s help and designs, we’ve developed all sorts of flushing accessories and methods that allow us to descale almost every water system found on boats.
Triton Networking at Trac Ecological will be the first Wednesday in April (April 3) from 6-8 p.m. at Trac’s manufacturing facility at 1103 Old Griffin Road (33004). Be careful of road work that has the road closed to the west of the facility. The only way in is from US1 to the east. Hope to see you there.