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At Michigan-based HVAC distributor Young Supply Co., nearly 10% of the workforce are veterans. So when Terry Tarantine, director of HVAC sales at Young Supply, was looking for a cool way to launch a new air purification product, his mind turned to local nonprofit Vets Returning Home. Located in Roseville, Michigan, the 11,000-square-foot, 43-bed facility provides a stable and sober living environment and helps transition an average of 250 veterans a year back into society as fully functioning community members. The nonprofit takes no government funding — and due to the pandemic, it hasn’t been able to hold fundraisers, meaning it’s now in serious trouble.

“I approached them when we took on Sterionizer,” Tarantine said. “It's a product line that we're really excited about, because they can mass-produce ions without producing ozone. So we thought that, how do we kick this off? And I thought, well, we can do a really good deed for veterans and launch the product at the same time. So it was really a win-win situation.”

Young Supply Co. media air cleaners along with four Sterionizers.

Young Supply Co. media air cleaners along with four Sterionizers. Staff photo

Young Supply Company, headquartered in Chesterfield Township with 18 branches in Michigan and northwest Ohio, has nearly 10% of its workforce comprised of veterans.

“We feel that it's really important for us to give back to the vet community, and our owner who just recently passed — Ron Vallan, Sr. — is also a veteran. So there's a tie-in for that for us as well,” Tarantine.

Young Supply donated four Sterionizers, humidifier pads, and media air cleaners. Partnering with them in the project was Brian Dube, president of Charter Home Comfort Heating and Air, a residential and commercial HVAC company located in Harrison Township.

Earlier this year, Charter Home Comfort heard about the plight of Vets Returning Home and started donating the nonprofit a portion of each residential maintenance agreement subscription. Recently they were able to give Sandy Bower, the director who started Vets Returning Home, a check for $2,000.

“People love that they’re able to give back to our veterans while making sure their comfort and indoor air quality systems are being kept at their peak performance,” Dube said.


An Upgrade for Vets

For the HVAC upgrade project, Charter installed the donated products and performed a full maintenance on the existing HVAC system.

The team from Charter Home Comfort, Young Supply, and Vets Returning Home poses outside the Roseville facility for a photo.

The team from Charter Home Comfort, Young Supply, and Vets Returning Home poses outside the Roseville facility for a photo. Staff photo

The Sterionizer needs no maintenance and is self-cleaning.

“There's a lot of bipolar ionizers out in the marketplace, and it's a fantastic, very effective technology. The limiting factor is, when you ramp up ion production, ozone tends to follow,” Tarantine said. “Sterionizer figured out how to mass-produce them without having ozone. These units put out 500 billion ions a second, and the ozone output is point .001 parts per million. And that's the differentiator … we can mass-produce ions and protect larger spaces with smaller equipment — without producing ozone.”

The technology was actually developed in Israel and originally intended for safe rooms in areas facing chemical blasts and bombings, where the air needed to be purified quickly. Tarantine compared the technology to “putting hydrogen peroxide in the air” to clean it, the way you would pour hydrogen peroxide on a cut to kill germs.

“With our sterilizer running, we're putting hydroperoxides into the space, and they don't like each other — as an ion, it is an unbalanced molecule. So the only way it can separate itself and go back to being just air and water vapor is to find a pathogen, rip the cell open, and then they balance it out; they take the hydrogen or the electrons that needs to balance.”

That pathogen is now inactive, and all that is left behind is air and water vapor.

“It's a proactive product,” he explained. “It goes out into the workspace, out into the home, out into the office, looking for surface germs, airborne germs, anything they can find … coagulate onto that bioparticulate and render it ineffective. It’s effective on flu. It's been tested on COVID, common cold, viruses, and mold spores.”


Sales Keep Soaring

Tarantine said Young Supply’s IAQ products have been selling at a record rate. Young Supply is focused largely on the commercial side with solutions that help people get back to work and school safely. Two of their contractors are getting stickers made that can be put on the front door of a building that say the air is sterilized.

“You still want to be cautious and observe protocols,” Tarantine said, “but you want to say, ‘Hey, it's safe, we're protected; we're looking out for our customers and our employees, keeping them as safe as humanly possible. We've installed these products in our workspace to keep you safe to keep you healthy.’”

Now that people have seen the severity of the pandemic, he believes society will be much more savvy about IAQ.

“I don't see the demand for this diminishing in the next several years. Maybe not at the pace that we've had this year, but I think the demand will still be there,” he said. “I mean, by the time the vaccine gets out effectively, we'll have over 400,000 people dead — and that's a conservative estimate. So yeah, I believe it's going to be top of mind for quite some time. And we want to do our best to let people know that there are technologies out there that can make their home safer. Even little things, like if the kids come home from school and they get everybody sick, you miss less time at work if you have an air purifier in your home. And now more people are not getting sick at work, more productivity comes, and people are protected. People are safe.”

At the veterans’ home, residents have been careful — and lucky. Even with 50-plus people at the facility, there have been zero COVID cases.

“We did 40 days of complete lockdown. But it wasn't healthy, being stuck in this facility like that,” said Bower. “This extra layer with our HVAC is going to allow them to breathe easier. We're going to save money on maintenance. We're going to give them a cleaner, safer, more sterilized environment. This is going to give everyone a lot more comfort and peace of mind.”