#21: Ontario-based businesses and the innovation born as a result of COVID-19
The Spark: Tell us about Trusscore.
Dave Caputo, CEO: Trusscore is a material science company focused on developing sustainable building materials for the commercial, agricultural, healthcare and residential markets. We’re starting a journey to change the way people build buildings and the environmental footprint left behind when they do. We’re investing in research and development and bringing material science to our formulations — making it even more functional and beautiful. Trusscore evolved from MSW Plastics; the company was founded in 2007 by Steve Bosman and Joel Koops and is recognized as a world-class extrusion manufacturing company. We are now shifting to a world-class polymer formulation and advanced manufacturing company.
The Spark: What were you and your team working on prior to March 2020?
DC: We were focused on manufacturing and transitioning from MSW Plastics to Trusscore. We were investing heavily in research and development to discover new materials and formulations to add to our existing products, designing a recyclable, easy to install, durable, modular, green alternative to existing wallboard solutions. As we transition from agricultural and commercial spaces into residential locations, we are focusing on “TrusscoreWall&CeilingBoard” and “TrusscoreSlatWall.” The unanticipated arrival of COVID-19 launched us into our official rebrand earlier than expected with the product launch of our
hospital-grade “TempWall” by Trusscore.
“This urgent pressure sensor requirement allowed us to come together and find ways to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
The Spark: We know you decided to pivot, and Trusscore was even lauded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on what you started doing to help fight the pandemic. When did you decide your business could change course, and how did you do it?
DC: It was the second week of March when we called a pandemic response meeting. This meeting quickly translated from how we can keep the Trusscore team safe — and if the plant was able to remain open during this time — to how can we help in response to the coronavirus outbreak. When one of the team mentioned they were more likely to Google “how to fix a broken arm and use duct tape to fix it” rather than going to a hospital emergency department waiting room and risk being exposed, the answer seemed so obvious as to how we could help. When the African swine flu outbreak hit, NorLock by Trusscore was used to separate hogs in pig barns to stop the spread. Of course, pigs are much shorter and heavier than humans, but the same concept was used in the design process. This idea led to the development of four prototypes of TempWall. Dr. Jay Green, chief of emergency medicine at Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener, Ont., assisted in the development of TempWall by Trusscore, by providing useful feedback and determining what would be best to fit the current situation. One week after the idea was conceived, on March 23, the first 10 TempWall panels were installed at Grand River Hospital. From there, we started calling other hospitals and donating walls. One week following this, on his morning announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a humbling statement about the Trusscore team’s efforts. From that moment on, we’ve been able to help and send TempWall by Trusscore to hospitals, long-term care homes, grocery stores, dental clinics and other businesses across the continent.
The Spark: Tell us more about the TempWall.
DC: The main differentiator of TempWall by Trusscore and other temporary wall solutions on the market is Microban Aegis Microbe Shield — an antimicrobial surface treatment molecularly bonds to the surface of TempWall, making it inhospitable to germs. The antimicrobial treatment has demonstrated a 99.99 percent reduction of a broad range of bacteria, moulds, yeast and fungi on treated surfaces. Other benefits include: a modular system that allows easy, clean and rapid deployment and installation; hospital-grade, non-porous surface; lightweight and durable panels for easier transport, assembly and re-configuration; and it’s environmentally sustainable — 100-percent recyclable with zero cut-off waste and UV stabilizers to prevent discolouring and cracking.
TempWall by Trusscore
The Spark: What have you learned from pivoting?
DC: The most important lesson I have learned as a leader during this time is how our team — and the community — was able to quickly innovate and mobilize; everyone was willing to help. Whether it be staff from the building across the street, local Kinsmen Club and volunteer firefighters, family and friends, everyone knew that to survive this outbreak, we had to work together. It was great to see the community come together. We were able to bring on board employees from the factory across the street rather than be furloughed. The most significant change in my day-to-day, was that my phone started ringing at 7 a.m. and stopped at 2 a.m., many of those calls came from residents in the communities surrounding Palmerston and they sounded like this: “Hey Dave, I can drive a forklift. Do you need help?”
The Spark: What has business been like since making the change?
DC: Since making the change, business at Trusscore has been focused on increasing efficiency and focusing on our products’ formulations. We never anticipated entering the healthcare industry, but we suspect that TempWall is here to stay, given the response we’ve received. Trusscore has now manufactured thousands of hospital-grade TempWall systems, operating at maximum production efficiency of 400 per day. The entire Team at Trusscore is thrilled to have done our small part to help slow the pandemic’s spread.