Take a parched economy, add dry ice blasting technologies, and the outcome can be pretty cool, to say the least.

For Cold Jet, the market has only heated up for its technologies. Founded in 1986 in Loveland to fix a gap in the industrial cleaning market, the company decided to specialize in environmentally-friendly dry ice blasting (solid carbon dioxide recaptured from CO2-generating sources) and dry ice production. Eugene Cooke III, Cold Jet’s current president and CEO, was one of the co-founders at the time, serving in a variety of roles.

Early on, the company experienced some bumps in the road. Before Cooke took over his current position, Cold Jet had been losing money, and the ownership group was looking to divest its interests.

"I lobbied the board for the role of president and chief operating officer," Cooke says. "I outlined a strategy for creating immediate value in the enterprise by focusing on profit generation, rather than revenue growth, based on my belief that the essential element of the strategy was a clear market focus on the application base Cold Jet should pursue."

The business strategy, along with personnel changes, was implemented in December 1999. As of March 2000 (and every quarter since) Cold Jet has been profitable and grown its revenue base.

To achieve this, Cold Jet has had to address several challenges related to its two-phase sales objective. This involved convincing global industrial gas companies to invest in the infrastructure for the production and distribution of solid CO2, and to make the same available in real time at cost-effective prices. Customers also needed to be persuaded to change their cleaning paradigm and processes.

"It was not until we were able to convince the global leaders in industrial gas, including Praxair, Linde, Air Liquide and Airgas, to make such investments, that our products gained traction in the global marketplace,” Cooke says.

In order to be successful, Cold Jet had to offer services internationally to its customers such as Coca Cola, Frito Lay, BMW and Goodyear. This was no insignificant venture for the small business.

"We now operate, through our proprietary network of offices and business partners, on each continent and truly provide the same solution in Shanghai as we do in Seattle," Cooke explains. "This same approach continues as we continue geographic expansion to expand our global footprint."

This development is even more impressive considering the economy, but Cold Jet has adapted to the changing landscape by altering business operations. The focus has shifted to eliminating unnecessary costs, reducing expenses and maintaining product quality while developing innovative technologies and exploring new industries.

"Industrial cleaning and preventative maintenance are still imperative, and companies are looking for more cost-effective ways to do these things," Cooke says. "Cold Jet can help companies reduce their cleaning costs, and as such we have been able to remain successful in the difficult economy." ■