OAKDALE — Safe Drain, an Oakdale business that makes drainage systems to control spills and protect stormwater systems, has served the area for a quarter center, but now it’s on the brink of bigger things.
“We’ve kept the company small, but the market and the potential are enormous, and it’s time to expand,” said Safe Drain CEO Marissa Lowe.
The company serves a range of businesses and organizations from airports, to fire stations to fast food restaurants with its trademarked Safe Drain system.
Lowe says the business is going to start marketing to cities and counties and has grown to the point where it needs to consolidate all its manufacturing at its 3,000-square-foot facility in Oakdale. Right now, some of that work is done in Manteca, but it will move to Oakdale over the next six months to year. That will mean a bigger building and more jobs.
“Safe Drain is eager to bring more manufacturing and a great many in-house jobs to Oakdale and then grow from there,” said Lowe.
Safe Drain is John Deming’s brainchild, invented 26 years ago to answer the question: how can I filter stormwater to prevent water pollution?
“My passion has always been design, development and the environment,” said Deming, who is also Safe Drain’s director and head of research and development. “Safe Drain combined my interests in developing a business and product that both preserves and gives back to the environment.”
Safe Drain designs and manufactures stainless steel storm drain spill containment inserts. The inserts provide 100 percent filtration that meets all EPA stormwater pollution prevention regulations.
The units are shipped to customers for installation in 47 states and three countries. Safe Drain units are installed on site with no permits required and no construction downtime.
The units are custom built to fit any size or shape storm drain from three-inches wide to 15 feet long. The system is scalable so it can filter any pollution capture need: sediment, oils, metals or trash.
When a spill occurs, the Safe Drain inlet closes in seconds, which allows pollutants to be trapped quickly. That provides a secondary containment system to protect against hazardous material spills and storm water pollutants.
Pollutants are then removed from the unit and the protection continues. Deming said the installations function effectively up to 40 years before needing replacement.
Safe Drain reduces a business’s risk of fines, liability and environmental damages as well as the negative publicity that results from a hazardous material discharge. The unit also helps analyze pollution and track its sources.
“For example, a truck transmission blew near a Safe Drain and gallons of transmission fluid were trapped by our drain and safely removed,” Deming said. “The cleanup was around $5,000 with no fines or penalties instead of a potential $300,000 cost including federal, state and local fines.”
The biggest challenge is convincing people to do something to protect themselves.
“Holding off is very dangerous considering the potential consequences,” said Lowe. “Safe Drain is insurance against the disaster of a spill for four decades. We’re continually working to get the word out, overcome resistance and get people covered and safe from the bad news and big dollars caused by pollutant spills.”
Airports, including Stockton’s, Modesto’s and San Francisco’s, have installed Safe Drains in their refilling areas. East coast airports use Safe Drain to protect fueling and deicing locations.
Atlantic Aviation at Stockton’s airport has been protected against aviation fuel spills for a decade.
“The Safe Drain system is located in our fueling facility and has functioned as advertised for the few spills we’ve had over the years,” said General Manager Angela Moniz. “It’s opened and closed as needed and no spills have escaped the system.”
“I’ve always thought that clean water is everybody’s business,” Deming said. “This has always been a real niche market, and we’ve always gone directly to the end user for sales and we still do.”
According to Lowe, the marketplace is vast and should remain full of opportunity, considering the array of regulations from every level of government regarding pollution and the businesses that could benefit from a Safe Drain installation. The company markets its product at trade shows, environmental organizations and word of mouth.
“Business is picking up and we’re looking forward to 2016,” Deming said. “Safe Drain pioneered the containment industry, and we’ve streamlined the manufacturing process, fine-tuned the product and have expanded production so we can meet any production needs any customer requires.”