Thursday, March 27, 2003

Local firm aids troops over there



By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Chemical operator Steve Landrum of H&S Chemical Co. Inc. fills pouches with potassium iodide at the company's Covington headquarters.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
A small Covington chemical company is playing a big role in keeping the troops in Iraq germ-free.

Privately held H&S Chemical Co. is supplying the U.S. military powdered sanitizer used by troops in the field to disinfect fresh fruits and vegetables and cooking utensils.

"We've been working six days a week, 10 hours a day. We've been getting orders on top of orders," said Michael Schneider, operations manager for the family-owned business.

The company is wrapping up production of 5,000 boxes of the sanitizer ordered since last fall.

Michael operates the business with his brothers, David, vice president, and Chuck, head of sales. He estimates that the company has packaged more than 7 tons of the product since last fall.

Each box contains a dozen applications of the chlorine-and-iodine disinfectant.

The company employs 15 but has added a few temporary workers to handle the extra workload.

H&S, a 20-year-old specialty chemical supplier created by Dr. Charles A. Schneider, father of the brothers, thinks that it is the only lab registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to formulate trichloromelamine, the active ingredient in the food sanitizer.

ON HOME FRONT
H&S Chemical Co. is just one of a number of Tristate defense suppliers. Among them:
• Wornick Co.: A Texas-based food service company that produces Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs) at its Blue Ash plant. The company has won $69 million in military contracts since January.
• Keco Industries Inc., Florence: Supplier of heating and cooling equipment used by troops in the Middle East.
• KDI Precision Products, Clermont County: Supplier of munitions fuses.
• GE Aircraft Engines, Evendale: Jet engine maker that supplies engines powering the Stealth fighters, B-2 bombers and F-16 fighters, among other aircraft.
Each application of the sanitizer consists of twin pouches. One contains 3.4 ounces of the trichloromelamine, and the other contains 1.34 ounces of potassium iodine.

In the field, mess crews rip open the twin pouches and dump the mix into about 25 gallons of water.

"The beauty of the product is that it's low toxicity," Michael said. And the sanitizer works in cold water, so troops on the move don't have to heat water to use the product.

Unlike more toxic disinfectants, the trichloromelamine formulation doesn't need to be rinsed off. Once rinsed in the solution, utensils and food can be air dried.

Some military units, disembarking for the Middle East, have contacted the company directly to obtain supplies of the disinfectant.

"I had one sergeant from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, (home of the 101st Airborne) call four times," Chuck said. "I couldn't help him because all our inventory was committed."

As a major in the Kentucky National Guard, Chuck has seen the sanitizer in use in the field.

The company is negotiating with the Defense Logistics Agency for a new supply requirement that could involve delivery of thousands more boxes in the next five years.

The company thinks that some of those supplies could end up as part of the humanitarian effort after the war ends.

H&S, which moved from Cincinnati to Northern Kentucky in 1997, has been supplying the Defense Department with the food service disinfectant under a military specification for several years.

The company, which doesn't disclose revenues, makes a variety of disinfectants and cleansing products used by restaurants and bars as well as chemicals for other uses.

The company initially started as a joint venture between HVC Chemical and Dr. Schneider. In 1992, Dr. Schneider acquired all of the company.

E-mail mboyer@enquirer.com



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