Innovation: Striking Gold and Striking Out
Let’s face it. Some ideas are better than others but it’s not always obvious which one is going to prevail. As an innovator, you must be comfortable with a batting average below that of a good baseball player. It takes some grit to know when to keep grinding and see your idea through and when to pull the plug and pivot. And then occasionally, you swing for it and knock it out of the park. That's exactly what happened with our Award-winning Safeshell.
While walnuts seemed to be hard nuts to crack (actually, the hardest nuts in the world), this solution actually stared at us in the face, through a window.
"The best product for the job was literally in our backyard," Adam Coleman, USGreentech General Manager says. "I had a large black walnut tree behind my garage who’s nut shells would stick around for what seemed like forever in my lawn.”
While creating Safeshell, the team certainly grinded it out for the first two years learning what they didn’t know about walnut shells, tree-nut allergens and synthetic turf systems. Progress didn't really take off until year three of development. The team gained some serious traction in creating Safeshell, an allergen-free infill crafted from of a blend of US-grown walnut shells. The product officially launched in early 2017. While other non-rubber infill materials do exist such as infill made of coconut fibers and cork, they cause extra maintenance for field caretakers such as annual top-off and irrigation. That's a lot of work, and really costly, and it just doesn't make sense to us. Safeshell takes care of all this with minimal maintenance, low cost and a low carbon footprint.
Another cool part about using walnut shells is that our product is made in America. Where coconut fibers and certainly crumb rubber is sourced from all over the world, black walnuts grow wild throughout the Midwest, are collected by hand, taken to nearby collection centers and then transported to a central processing facility in Missouri. There the walnut meat – the part of the walnut that contains allergens – is extracted for food products, while the shells are collected for industrial uses such as sandblasting and water filtration.
We set out to improve on the organic infills on the market and create a product that was sourced in the US, would not float, didn’t need additional irrigation for optimal play and would not be a maintenance headache for the field owner. All those attributes came together with Safeshell. And while our infills are well regarded in the industry, this is the first time one of them has been singled out for an award. Cincinnati Business Courier Innovation and Technology Awards gave the top prize in the Green Category to Safeshell. For more information about the award check out the full press release.
The most important part of all this is taking stock of what we learned. We learned the importance of failure and that sometimes the best solution is right there in front of you. At the end of the day, we have our amazing team to thank and are excited to come up with the next big thing, and ultimately
Building better turf together
From our team to yours,