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15 companies offer hurricane recovery goods, services

Swedes hop pond for trade mission to Madison County

Fifteen Swedish companies pitched their products and services to U.S. companies last week during a trade mission in Madison County.

The Swedes hope to have a hand in the massive cleanup and rebuilding following the hurricane disasters. The Swedish American Chamber of Commerce invited these companies to make the trip because all of them sell products, services or technologies that could be used by companies here that are involved in rebuilding. One company sells a mobile unit that can clean contaminated soil on site. Other specialties introduced during the day included mold remediation, water purification and flood protection systems — all of which are needed along the devastated coastline.

The trade mission was organized by the Swedish Inventors Association and the Swedish American Chamber’s South Central U.S. office based in Madison. It was supported by the Madison County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA), the World Trade Center and the Mississippi Manufacturers Association. The meeting was held at the CAVS Center in Canton, which is located across Interstate 55 from the Nissan auto assembly plant.

Soren Holmberg of the Swedish company FloorDry demonstrated how his company’s mechanically ventilated floor could speed up the rebuilding process and prevent what he called the “sick building syndrome” that occurs when occupants are sickened by poor air quality in a building. One dilemma for hurricane-stricken areas is wet concrete, which takes a long time to dry. Flooded floors are being ripped out now, but the wet concrete foundation remains.

FloorDry is a rigid material laid on top of the concrete foundation and topped by a regular floor. Because the concrete is constantly ventilated, it can continue to dry during reconstruction and after people move back into the building. The product sells for $5 to $7 per square foot.

Holmberg said FloorDry would like to authorize U.S. companies to install the flooring in buildings using FloorDry materials. If enough interest is generated, the company would consider producing FloorDry here.

Birger Ericson, president of Speedheater in Sweden, demonstrated how his $495 mobile device could dry out wet surfaces using infrared rays. The high heat of the concentrated rays evaporates the water and kills mold and fungi. Ericson’s goal in visiting Madison was to find companies that could import and distribute his product in the U.S.

Ron Colling traveled to Madison for the day as a representative of InterlinkSupply in Nashville, a supplier to cleaning and restoration businesses.

“We’ll see what we can use and what we can’t, but it’s always good to see new technology,” he said.

Steve Vassallo, president of the Swedish American Chamber’s South Central U.S. office, said this was the largest and most focused trade mission for the chamber since it opened in April. The Madison chamber is the country’s 19th regional Swedish American chamber and covers Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Sweden is a creative and innovative nation with products that could aid in the recovery, said Vassallo. Some of the Swedish companies who visited Madison last week are interested in establishing a U.S. subsidiary, others want a U.S. partner to distribute their products and still others want to manufacture their products in the U.S.

“We’re hoping that some of the American firms see the importance and want to embrace these products in their product lines,” said Vassallo.

Per-Erik Persson of the Swedish Inventors Association coordinated the mission with Vassallo, who he met about a year ago in Sweden. After the hurricanes, Persson sent out an inquiry to his association’s 3,000 members and got approximately 50 responses from companies that were interested in visiting Madison to establish partnerships with U.S. companies in the cleanup and rebuilding effort. The 15 companies who traveled here are small- to medium-sized businesses, all excited about the opportunities the U.S. could offer, said Persson.

“The Swedish market is always too small, and the U.S. is the biggest market in the world,” he said. “Our goal is to create a gateway using Madison, Mississippi, as the gateway.”

Before heading home, MCEDA executive director Tim Coursey took the Swedes on a tour of the Central Mississippi Industrial Center in Gluckstadt where 16th section land will be used for commercial and industrial companies. The group then traveled South to see the hurricane damage in person and to get an idea of what their products will be up against.

Contact MBJ Staff Writer Kelly Ingebretsen at kelly@msbusiness.com.


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