More opposition has emerged to AB 1824, a controversial California bill that would ban the use of holding tank products containing six specific chemicals – bronopol, dowicil, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, paraformaldehyde and paradichlorobenzene.
To date, Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thetford Corp., a manufacturer of holding tank chemicals for both the marine and RV markets, had been the only vocal opponent to the proposed legislation.
Now, Dometic Corp., Elkhart, Ind., a Thetford competitor, would specifically like the inclusion of bronopol pulled from the bill, and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has stepped up to oppose the bill in its entirety.
RVIA’s position is apparently similar to that of Thetford’s in that both are asking the state of California for better science – more proof – that these chemicals are fouling up septic systems in the state. Thetford contends that use patterns – the fact that many people often dump holding tanks in a short period of time – is a more serious root cause of septic system problems.
“We do not feel that we have been shown any science that shows that the six chemicals that are being banned are going to address the problem,” said Diane Farrell, RVIA vice president of government affairs. “It seems like a remedy and yet we have not seen the right data pointing us to the problem at hand. California is a leader in the green movement, and one of the premises of that is to get chemicals into the hands of the scientists and this seems to be avoiding that process.”
The bill is moving swiftly, having passed out of both the Senate Toxics and Environmental Quality and Appropriations committees in the last two weeks. Next it goes to the full Senate and then, if it passes, to the California governor’s desk for a signature. Estimates are that that could happen by August or September at the latest.
Meanwhile, one of the most ardent proponents of the bill, the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC), is unswayed by RVIA’s opposition and Dometic’s request to pull bronopol from the bill.
“Dometic has put a letter in opposition suggesting that bronopol be pulled from the bill and that is when we had to dig deeper into the science,” explained Debbie Sipe, executive director for CalARVC.
According to Sipe, the California Department of Toxics and Substance Control has looked into this question, but is coming up with inconclusive results. So, CalARVC will continue to support the bill as it stands.
“Fundamentally all chemicals, even green chemicals, have a risk associated with them,” explained Ed McKiernan, Dometic director of development for product sanitation at Dometic’s plant in Big Prairie, Ohio. “When you ban chemicals and just say ‘this is banned,’ you don’t know what all the consequences could be. In the case of this law, one of my biggest fears is that it is going to cause more difficulty and more harm to campground septic systems than if the law didn’t happen.”
In fact, McKiernan claims banning these chemicals, which come from a list assembled 10 years ago by Dr. Katherine Farrell-Poe, PhD, of the University of Arizona, will have virtually no positive effect on the environment.
“The level of bronopol that is used in a 40-gallon tank will virtually have no impact on a septic system based on studies that have been done at sewage treatment plants,” McKiernan explained. “At the time the list was put together it was thought that bronopol was another name for formaldehyde, and it’s not. There has been a lot of research done and it is clearly a different product. Bronopol is a good chemical because it is cost-effective, does a good job of odor control at high temperatures and has very minimal environmental impact.”
McKiernan said RV owners can – and often do – use alternative products that contain ammonium compounds, calcium nitrates or enzymes/bacteriological kinds of additives.
“The difficulty with those three alternatives is there are issues with biodegradability and odor control,” he said. “Nitrates are not removed when they go to the septic tank. They go into the leach field. You are going to be adding more nitrates and causing a bigger problem for the environment.”
Some of the greener products generally don’t work at high temperatures, according to McKiernan, and in the state of California where high temperatures are the norm, he maintained, fighting bad odors could become a way of life for the RV enthusiast.
When you take away products containing bronopol, McKiernan maintained, RV owners will likely start using homemade concoctions containing things like Drano or bleach, which kill all the bacteria in a septic system. “This will have a very negative environmental effect,” he said.
“We want to do the right thing environmentally, but we want to do the right thing by giving the RV owner products that work in high temperatures,” McKiernan added.
McKiernan would like to see California do an in-depth study on bronopol to gain a clearer understanding before passing the bill as it stands.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson announced today (June 21) Dometic Corp. will relocate its Americas headquarters operation from Elkhart, Ind., to Louisville, Ky., according to a release from the Governor’s office posted to the WHAS11.com website.
Dometic, a leading U.S. manufacturer of marine, RV and medical refrigeration products, climate control systems, awnings, sanitation systems and other accessory products, plans to locate its new Louisville corporate office — which will house executive leadership, mid-level and key support teams — to serve both the North and South American markets.
“Kentucky is fast becoming the top choice location for many corporate headquarter operations and the relocation of Dometic’s Americas corporate office is yet another success to celebrate,” said Gov. Beshear. “The creation of nearly 100 new high-paying jobs and an investment of more than $4.1 million will provide a significant economic boost to the region. It is the very reason why it is so important for state and local governments to partner with the private sector to bring these opportunities to fruition.”
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Dometic for tax incentives up to $3 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The incentive can be earned over a 10-year period through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments.
“The Dometic Group board of directors is pleased to announce Louisville as our new Dometic Americas headquarters location,” said Doug Whyte, company president, in the release. “Our leadership team is excited about the opportunity to commence our business operations in Louisville as soon as possible.”
Today’s Featured Video comes from WSBT-TV, South Bend, Ind., reporting on the possibility that Dometic Corp. may move its corporate headquarters from Elkhart, Ind., to Louisville, Ky.
Dometic Corp. today (June 16) received preliminary approval for state and local tax incentives worth up to $3 million if it moves its North and South American headquarters from Elkhart, Ind., to Louisville, Ky., the Louisville Courier-Journal reports today.
The approval came in a special video conference meeting of the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA).
The authority’s next regular meeting is June 24 in Frankfort, but the company could not wait that long to obtain assurance it was eligible for the incentives, according to Mandy Lambert, spokeswoman for the finance authority.
She said Dometic has internal deadlines that needed to be met in order for them to continue their decision-making process.
Dometic, a subsidiary of Sweden-based Dometic Group, makes air conditioners, refrigerators, toilets and other products for boats, RVs, trucks and hotel rooms.
The company is considering moving its North and South American headquarters from Elkhart in Northern Indiana to Louisville, bringing 98 jobs to the area with an average salary of about $60,000.
Dometic would invest more than $4.1 million to secure a 25,000-square-foot corporate office in Louisville, according to KEDFA documents.
Barkley Garrett, economic development director for the city of Elkhart, said he was surprised by the announcement, especially after the city and state of Indiana authorities worked last year to provide tax incentives to Dometic to move certain production operations from the company’s home base in Sweden and a plant in Mexico to Elkhart and nearby LaGrange, Ind.
He told RVBUSINESS.com he had not been contacted by Dometic but added, “I will look into this and see what’s going on.”
Doug Whyte, president of Dometic Corp., was recently appointed to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) board of directors in representation of industry suppliers.
“It’s a great honor to be appointed by the RVIA board of directors to represent Dometic and the association’s best interests,” said Whyte in a news release. “I take the responsibilities and importance of this position very seriously, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve on the board.”
Board members fill seats from a variety of categories in the RV industry and serve three-year terms to effectively manage the affairs of the association.
“It will be a privilege to join with the other board members and RVIA executives to deal with current issues as well as long-range planning for the greater good of the industry,” Whyte stated. “I will do my utmost to continue the legacy of unification and market-viability for our industry’s well-being.”
Prior to his position at Dometic, Whyte held leadership positions with companies such as Ford Motor Co. and Ingersoll Rand, including serving as president of the Wenzel Co., where he was responsible for commercial and consumer products for outdoor leisure, home comfort, camping, hiking, hospitality and other applications.
Dometic Group is a customer-driven, global provider of leisure products for the RV, automotive, truck, marine, lodging and medical markets. Dometic supplies the industry with a complete range of air conditioners, refrigerators, awnings, cookers, sanitation systems, lighting, mobile power equipment, comfort and safety solutions, windows, doors and other equipment that make life more comfortable away from home. Dometic also provides specially designed refrigerators for hotel rooms, offices, wine storage and transport and storage of medical products. Dometic products are sold in almost 100 countries and are produced mainly in wholly-owned production facilities around the world.
Dometic Corp. introduced the Portable Ice Maker, which can make up to 33 pounds of fresh, clean ice every 24 hours. Easily transported, the ice maker can make a batch of ice in less than 15 minutes. It features a front-mount LED display for easy use, a selection of three cube sizes and a low-water and basket-full indicator. It holds 2 1/2 pounds of ice in the removable basket. It has an energy-saving clear window in the lid for easy viewing of the ice level, a convenient, self-storing drain fitting, stainless steel finish, 6-foot power cord and strong, recessed handles. For more information, contact Dometic at (574) 294-2511 or visit www.dometicusa.com.
Dometic Corp. introduces The Thermostat, a digital thermostat for smart climate management. The Thermostat features contemporary styling, set-and-forget operation and a large digital display for easy viewing. It works with air conditioners, heat strips, heat pumps and furnaces. The Thermostat is available in black or white. For more information, contact Dometic at (574) 294-2511 or visit www.dometicusa.com.
By Jan. 1, 2010, all Dometic RV air conditioners and heat pump models will use a new refrigerant called 410A, which does not affect the ozone or contribute to global warming, according to Brad Sargent, vice president of marketing.
The current refrigerant, R22, is being phased out by U.S. government law requiring its elimination and the use of “green” gases in such products beginning Jan. 1, 2010.
All DuoTherm, Brisk Air and Penguin brands will be affected. The new products using 410A will be identifiable by a green leaf label affixed to the shroud.
“In going to this new refrigerant we had to redesign our whole refrigerant system, all the way from new compressors, evaporator and condenser coils to the manufacturing process, in order to accommodate the transition to this eco-friendly refrigerant,” said Sargent. “We did a great deal of lab testing on each of our models to optimize performance before launching a significant field test late 2008. We’ve done our homework.”
“One thing that’s important for people to know,” he said, “is that the new law affects only new production of HVAC products beginning Jan. 1, 2010. If a dealer or OEM has inventory of R22 air conditioners or heat pump air conditioners, or RVs with R22 HVAC products built before the Jan. 1, 2010, deadline, the law allows the market to sell out of the R22 product without any penalties. For those who have existing inventory, it’s fine to go ahead and sell them after the deadline.”
Consumers needing warranty or service work on a R22 unit after the government mandated date will also see some changes. The cost of R22 will escalate until it is no longer economically feasible to repair the unit, so if a warrantied product loses its refrigerant charge, Dometic will replace the R22 system with the new 410A system.
Because the 410A refrigerant is characteristically less efficient than R22, each Dometic model went from low-pressure to a high-pressure system, which required design changes to rebalance the internal components in order to reach the proper comfort performance levels for each model.
“The new re-designed units will be more expensive due to a number of factors, including more costly compressors that are designed for the new refrigerant as well as new high-pressure tubing,” Sargent explained. “We are still evaluating the overall cost impact of these design changes. We’ve done the proper investment and testing to ensure wex’ll still be providing the high-quality product we’ve been known to provide, right out of the gate.”
Besides using a green refrigerant mandated by law, Dometic has done other things on its own during the re-design process to further extend the environmentally friendly nature of its products. Engineering teams evaluated the energy it takes to make the product and worked to reduce that as much as possible, in addition to using recyclable materials, in an effort to reduce the companyx2019;s carbon footprint.
Prior to this project, Dometic has taken on several initiatives to be more earth-conscious, such as using an eco-friendly blowing agent in its foam insulation in all absorption refrigerators with zero Global Warming Potential (GWP), recycling scrap aluminum and metal, prioritizing environmental programs and optimizing products for low-energy consumption.
For more information, contact Dometic at 574-294-2511 or visithttp://www.dometicusa.com/
He keeps coming back to northern Indiana, as if magnetically drawn to some ore of truth there.
For the fourth time in 15 months, President Obama will arrive in this blue-collar manufacturing area –this time the town of Wakarusa — to sample the mood of the heartland and bring a message of change. He returns today (Aug. 5) to a community that has been as hard hit as any in this recession, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Each time he comes here, I keep thinking things must get better,” said Rosalie Collins, 43, an unemployed recreational vehicle worker, as she waited in line at a local unemployment office.
Elkhart encapsulates a key part of the country’s industrial downturn. Unlike the great Midwestern auto towns that are locked with a single industry, the region occupies a slice of industrial America that encompasses a range of manufacturers from musical instruments to high-tech engines.
It is a place that Obama has also found attractive. Elkhart, locals say, is in a traditionally conservative region that has shown a willingness to tilt Democratic. The county backed Sen. John McCain in the last presidential election, but the state went to Obama.
The visit fits a pattern of high-level White House trips to states that are historic presidential battlegrounds. Obama is looking to hold the state in 2012 – and so Indiana is receiving a disproportionate share of his travel time.
Salvation won’t come soon enough for the nearly 16,000 people in a county of less than 200,000 who currently don’t have a job. More than 45% of the businesses in the area are in manufacturing, and one-quarter of those are tied to the RV industry. More than a dozen factories have shut down in the past 12 months.
People here say they have begun to see a slight turn in their world, small improvements and some hiring that hint that the worst may be over. But after so many months of grim news, they are still worried.
“We’ve all been scraping the bottom, and there’s not much left to scrape,” said Loren Begly Sr., 78, a retired truck driver whose six children have all had trouble either finding or keeping full-time work.
Since the late 1800s, when shops building medical products and brass machine fittings crowded along the rail line, the area’s backbone has been its diverse industries.
The region has grown accustomed to economic roller coasters.
It survived after many jobs making musical instruments were moved overseas. It bounced back after gas prices eased and interest in RVs resumed in the 1980s.
It recovered after the Miles Laboratories plant, where Alka-Seltzer and Flintstone vitamins were made, closed its doors in 2001.
“It’s a national icon for economic cyclicality,” said Ken Rosen, chair of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business.
The latest cycle is about the worst it has ever been.
No one here could have imagined such hardship was coming when then-Sen. Barack Obama first stopped here in early May of last year in his campaign for the presidency.
When Obama returned that August, he was leading in the polls, and factories across this northern stretch of Indiana were shedding jobs. People were so eager to hear what Obama had to say, they arrived 12 hours early to wait outside of Concord High School.
When Obama came for a third stop in February, he came as a president trying to put a human face on why the country needed to support his $787 billion stimulus package.
Collins had lost her job by then and was scared. Gas prices had soared. Credit had dried up. Unemployment in the city of Elkhart had skyrocketed to 18 percent.
In the months since, the area has poured its resources into searching for the next manufacturer to bring new jobs.
The area has banked on help from the president’s stimulus plan. The county has attracted its share — $38 million approved so far. Of that, the city of Elkhart has had $14 million approved.
Now, there are hints of recovery. Seven area manufacturing companies, ranging from auto-insulation parts and an office-chair maker to RV manufacturers, have announced plans to expand.
On Tuesday, Dometic Corp. said it would put more than 240 people back to work in Elkhart, when it moves a manufacturing here from a factory in Sweden.
Obama is scheduled to speak today at the shuttered Monaco RV plant in Wakarusa.
He will use the trip to announce grants for advanced battery and electric-vehicle production, according to the White House. He’ll also talk about what’s needed to build conditions for sustained growth.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is scheduled to visit Elkhart, Ind., on Tuesday to announce the state’s role in helping to create 241 jobs at a new Dometic Corp. operation moving there this summer.
The Republican governor’s visit comes one day before President Obama is scheduled to visit the area. The nature of his visit has yet to be completely revealed.
Daniels will be speaking at 9 a.m. at the Dometic campus on the city’s east side.
Tonight, the Elkhart City Council is expected to approve a 10-year tax abatement program to facilitate moving Dometic’s refrigerator plant operation from Sweden to Elkhart, setting the stage for Daniels’ visit.
A state grant will pay 50% of Dometic’s employee training costs over two years — up to $170,000, according to a letter from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to the company. Dometic also will receive $500,000 in tax credits over seven years for creating the new jobs.