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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, November 17, 2008, 3:00 am

KriStar sees future for stormwater cubes

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    Santa Rosa company relocates, launches Cudo Stormwater

    SANTA ROSA — Water-quality regulators increasingly want property owners and builders to keep as much rainwater and sediment on site for as long as possible, and a longtime local manufacturer of stormwater- and erosion-management products is expanding and launching a new line of products to address the trend.

    KriStar Enterprises Inc. relocated to 360 Sutton Place in south Santa Rosa from 1219 Briggs Ave. The 15-year-old company needed more office space for its engineering and design staff and more yard space for finished products, according to CEO Doug Allard.

    The new site has 8,100 square feet of office space compared with 1,800 before. Storage under roof is about half as much at 17,000 square feet, but the new yard is five times as big at 5.25 acres.

    Some of KriStar’s new office space will be for Cudo Stormwater Products Inc., a company Mr. Allard launched in September to make and market the Cudo Cube modular catchment system. Measuring two feet on a side for the version made from injection-molded recycled plastic, the cube is designed to maximize storage capacity – 95 percent of its volume is available – strength and flexibility. Cube halves are assembled on site to limit transportation costs.

    With circular portals on each side, the cubes can be combined horizontally or stacked four high, with adapters to block or couple portals to hold water for reuse in irrigation or control water flow off a property. It’s needed for a maturing regulatory approach called low-impact development or green infrastructure. Those regulations often require that a developed site have similar runoff characteristics to those that exist in its natural state.

    “What really kills infill projects is when they have a half-acre site for building, but predevelopment flows need the surface area of the whole site,” Mr. Allard said. “They may have to put a lawn on the roof.”

    Filters and separators for stormwater or wastewater pollutants such as dirt, chemicals and organic material can fit into the modules. Cudo combined a Cudo Cube catchment system into newly launched products for pretreating parking lot or street runoff headed toward grass-lined swales. The cost can be a quarter of competing systems.

    For public works application or places where more structural strength is needed, Cudo offers a larger version made from concrete that allows workers to crawl inside for maintenance.

    In the past five years, annual revenue from sales of products increasingly designed and made in-house and from system maintenance contracts has been growing at about 20 percent a year to $15 million to $18 million now. The work force swells late in the year by a dozen and a half to 70 to prepare erosion-control products before the rainy season.

    At the height of the recent housing construction boom, KriStar had 40 percent of the market for fiber rolls, fabric bags and other products designed to keep dirt and other pollutants out of waterways during the project. The flow of sales to homebuilders has slowed to a trickle, but expansion of sediment-management requirements for projects as small as one acre has sustained sales growth for those products, according to Mr. Allard.

    In late summer, KriStar relocated manufacturing of sediment-control products from Bakersfield, where it has been for two years, to a farm south of Petaluma because of quality-control concerns. Dust generated during assembly isn’t compatible with an urban location, according to Mr. Allard.

    In recent years a number of products like KriStar’s have come on the market for managing rainwater runoff, and regulators are evaluating their effectiveness, according to John Short, senior engineer for the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

    For more information on KriStar, call 877-579-8819 or visit www.kristar.com. Get details on Cudo at 877-876-3345 or www.cudocube.com.

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