Colorado Fire Suppression Company Expands to California
How a 2011 natural disaster resulted in a life-saving business idea
On the morning of March 24, 2011, news broke of a wildfire burning in Franktown, Colorado. As the report detailed the specifics, Randy Lang and his wife Darlene realized the fire was threatening the Colorado Horse Park. They hopped in their truck and drove from their home in Castle Rock to help. As they reached the destination, they witnessed mayhem as families tried to get their children and pets into vehicles and trailers simultaneously, frantically attempting to evacuate as quickly as they could. With smoke and fire blanketing the area, Randy noticed several homeowners with hoses on their roofs, risking their lives to protect their homes. He couldn't help but think there had to be a better way.
Thus, the Exterior Wildfire Defense System was born.
Successful entrepreneur typically begin their process with product development.
Randy's instincts were to draw from his 30 years in the landscaping and irrigation business. In the late 1990s, he owned a landscape design firm in Arizona, which he sold before moving back to Denver in 2009. He went to work for Hydrosystems-KDI, an organization that provided him invaluable experience and relationships as he pursued entrepreneurship.
BUILDING THE TEAM
The next goal was to gather the appropriate experience and assemble a small, but functional team. Randy's hope was to build something the market had never seen. The goal was to get the water on the roof all at once. Therefore, his product couldn't be a standard irrigation system. He didn't want to leave areas waiting to cycle while exposing that space to fire and embers.
So, he shared his idea with his boss at the time, Ken DiPaolo, a 40-year irrigation design and development veteran, who possessed the ability to calculate distance, coverage and pump size necessary to dispense all the water at the same time from the roof.
As Randy shared his idea with DiPaolo, it became obvious they needed a technical engineer. Michael Smith had previously worked for DiPaolo before starting his own business, Control Tech USA. With him, he brought decades of electronic repair and design experience, in addition to servicing and installing fire and security systems.
In the coming year, Smith crafted the first HMC-400 Control Panel – the heart of the Exterior Wildfire Defense System.
TRIAL + ERROR
Over the next few years, ideas were drawn up, tested, failed and finally, succeeded.
With years of experimenting. thousands of hours of development, changes and soliciting feedback from fire chiefs, firefighters and hotshots, came a finished system.
With a patent on the system, the team felt confident they were ready to launch in spring 2015.
During the past three years, Randy added financial expertise, marketing and product development to round out the team and bring the waveGUARD™ to the world.
The company is expanding in to California in light of the recent devastation from statewide wildfires. Working with builders and architects, the goal is to help rebuild homes that were lost and protect homes and businesses that remain. With new installations comes new ideas and products to protect and defend property owners from further devastation.
Kathleen Courier is the sales and marketing manager with waveGUARD Corporation.