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Entrepreneurs

CEA Manufacturing & Distribution Winner: Partners Generate Powerful Solution

By Randall Kirkpatrick, posted May 3, 2024
MANUFACTURING & DISTRIBUTION | Greenfield Energy | Floyd Price, CEO & COO & Robin Spinks, Co-Founder & CFO | Year Founded: 2007 | Employees: 5 (Photo By Madeline Gray)
Greenfield Energy officials want their company to address the challenges of an unpredictable coastal climate.

As a result, they tested their new product – the HERO (Heat Exchanger Reliable Output) generator system – in Southeastern North Carolina.

“This product is a result of the innovations formulated by our CEO Floyd Price as a solution to the problems common to coastal locations,” said Robin Spinks, CFO and co-founder of Greenfield Energy.

Salt air intrusion and limited installation space have been long-term issues for users. Spinks said that Price found a simple but “engineering-centric” way to mitigate issues the industry had insufficiently addressed for decades.

The solution starts with adapting the water-cooled process of a marine generator (used in large boat hulls) for homes, bringing advantages over traditional air-cooled systems, including those with radiators, Spinks said. This adaptation solved the common internal corrosion issues from salt air circulating through air-cooled generators and the space issues generally faced by homeowners needing minimum distances from a house for an air-cooled unit.

The space challenges had previously been tricky to solve, explained Spinks, who added that heat from a HERO is “carried away in water, by a heat exchanger, and can be supplied by a pool, utility service or creek and piped away.”

Even after the successful first installations in 2021, the company faced some initial pushback from vendors and contractors, who were skeptical about the use of diesel fuel, reflecting the sticky perception that “diesel was dirty.”

In fact, said Spinks, “Diesel is safer than gasoline, is low-cost and reliable, and during a storm we can go out and refill it. Our generators are amazingly quiet, with a well-insulated fiberglass enclosure. The aesthetics are appealing, which our higher-end homeowner clients value. Further, these generators’ mobility means they can be easily replaced in the middle of a long hurricane outage.”

Most of Greenfield’s customers are commercial, such as businesses and organizations operating in critical infrastructure, health care, government and military applications. Their primary market extends from Texas along the Gulf Coast up through the Carolinas, although they’re still developing a dealer network.

Spinks and Price, partners in work and life, have strong, complementary skills, Spinks said. Price is a “natural inventor, pilot, mechanic and self-taught engineer,” according to the company’s website. Spinks’ energy-focused experience includes 10 years as vice president of project development for Cogentrix Energy, where she developed gas- and coal-fired power plant projects.She still consults in the economic development arena.

“I know megawatts and transmission; Floyd knows kilowatts and usage,” said Spinks with a chuckle.

They’re working on a trademark and a third-party certification for HERO. That certification is not legally required but greatly helps in terms of market acceptance, Spinks said.

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