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Krevit, America's oldest bleach manufacturer, heads for greener … – Torrington Register Citizen

NEW HAVEN >> One would think that a manufacturer that has made the same product in more or less the same place for 94 years would be pretty much set in its ways.
But in the case of H. Krevit & Co. you’d be wrong.
So in a giant leap of faith into a newer, greener process based on more modern technology, Krevit is about to change the way it manufacturers its one product.
In doing so, it expects to pretty much overnight sell more and better bleach at a lower price, increase its workforce by 28 percent, create new business at the Port of New Haven, reduce truck traffic on Interstate 95 and become one of United Illuminating’s biggest electricity users.
Krevit, a fifth generation, family-owned operation, is the oldest bleach manufacturer in America. It has made its not-too-sexy product in New Haven since 1919, including for the past 67 years in the same facility at 67 Welton St., a block off State Street, backing up to the Cedar Hill rail yard.
You could drive by on State Street every day and never know it was a block away.
“We’ve been making bleach longer than anybody else,” said President and CEO Thomas Ross, whose late wife, Andrea, was the granddaughter of the late Allen Krevit, who started the business with $200 given to him by his father, Hyman Krevit, on the condition that H. Krevit be named for him.
Ross’ two children, Doug and Sarah, also work at the business, he said.
For much of the last century, Krevit has shipped in the heavy-duty chemicals used to make bleach from manufacturers in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Canada, which cooked them up from raw sodium hypochlorite — salt — Ross said.
But come May 2014, it will change its process to a greener, safer one. It will skip the chemicals and become the first bleach manufacturer in the Northeast to start making its bleach directly from what literally will be boatloads of pure, raw salt, Ross said.
“Salt is not hazardous to handle, but the chemicals we’re using now are hazardous to handle,” he said. “The product will be better. There will be less impurities in it. It’s also a greener process because it’s a much safer process.”
In advance of the change, Krevit also has created a new company called GreenChlor to operate the new plant. It has negotiated to buy the salt from Morton Salt, Ross said.
In doing so, it also has made a decision that rather than bring in the salt — which will come from distant places, such as Chile — by rail or truck it in from New Jersey, where salt deliveries often go, it will deliver and store it locally in the Port of New Haven, said Judi Sheiffele, the Port Authority’s executive director.
Krevit struck a deal with Gateway Terminal to store the anticipated two giant boatloads a year that will come into the port. Gateway is building a new storage building especially for Krevit’s salt and will deliver it — a truck or two a day — direct to the factory, Ross and Scheiffele said.
So besides just changing to a greener, more efficient process, the change will create new business for Gateway and take about 720 trucks a year off of I-95, said Sheiffele.
A Gateway official declined to be interviewed.
Krevit, meanwhile, has built a new building to house the new equipment on a portion of what previously was just a parking lot. Both Krevit and Gateway will end up paying high personal property tax bills to New Haven as part of the deal.
“It is a gamble,” said Ross. “It’s a big financial endeavor for us. … But we’ll be a safer facility and real modern.”
Krevit sells its bleach in bulk to customers that include New York City — which uses Krevit sodium hypoclorite to chlorinate all of its swimming pools. Other customers include the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority and the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority, which uses it in the East Shore sewage treatment plant.
Another effect of the change “is going to be a lower municipal cost,” Ross said. “We’re going to be selling more of it, and the way to do that is to lower the price. We’re going to be selling a higher-quality product at a lower price.”
The salt used in the new process will replace chemical derivatives of salt that Krevit buys from companies like Olin and Oxy (the latter is short for Occidental Petroleum.) It will be the first time Krevit has changed its manufacturing process since 1985, when it went from a batch process to a completely enclosed continuous flow machine, Ross said.
“Since 1985 we’ve been using that process, and all of our competitors still use the old process,” he said.
The change was made possible by new technology that miniaturized the process used by Krevit’s soon-to-be-former suppliers. It will allow Krevit to do the same thing that Olin and Oxy do, but “on a much smaller scale,” Ross said.
The new process also will turn Krevit overnight into one of United Illluminating’s largest electricity users, he said.
“We’re going to be one of their largest customers now,” Ross said.
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