Shawnee water treatment manufacturing company a ‘star’ exporter
Much of Bob Rebori's life revolves around water — or, more specifically, the treatment of water.
Twenty years ago, the well-traveled entrepreneur started a small wastewater treatment development and manufacturing company called Bio-Microbics.
“I started Bio-Microbics in April of 1996 to address smaller treatment systems, to do something new,” said Rebori, who lives in Lake Quivira but was born and raised in the Bronx and then, later, New Jersey.
In 1982, Rebori moved to Kansas to join the family business, Smith & Loveless Inc., a Lenexa-based company that develops large wastewater treatment plants. So when he started his own company, he knew quite a lot about water treatment. And he took that knowledge and ran with it, growing his business from a handful of employees to three manufacturing facilities: the main headquarters located in Perimeter Park in Shawnee, a second facility located in St. Louis and a third in Maine.
But Bio-Microbics' waste and stormwater treatment systems don't stop at the country borders. There are now more than 60,000 systems in operation in more than 70 countries, including Nigeria, China and Lebanon, the first out-of-country location to which Bio-Microbics began exporting its water treatment systems years ago.
“I knew that if we were able to provide really good products for decentralized applications in our country ... they would be really good for the rest of the world,” Rebori said.
Traveling internationally is now a big part of the job for Rebori and a number of his staff members, who frequently travel across the globe to attend business meetings and about 40 trade shows a year.
“I'll be in Moscow the last week of April, Beijing, Shanghai and another city the first in May,” said Rebori earlier this year, listing out his itinerary as easily as if it were a grocery list.
The technology behind Bio-Microbics' innovative water treatment systems may be a bit confusing to the lay person, but inside the cavernous and dimly-lit warehouse behind the Shawnee headquarters one gets a clearer picture of the products the company offers. The place is filled with water treatment units in a range of sizes, from smaller systems designed for residential use up to those big enough to service small communities and commercial properties such as schools and office buildings. Water treatment systems developed by Bio-Microbics are meant to be an alternative to a conventional septic system or centralized wastewater plant. The goal, Rebori said, is to also keep them affordable, easy to install and as environmentally-friendly as possible.
“Our decentralized technologies keep the water on the property so you can use the water over and over again,” said Jennifer Cisneros, Bio-Microbics' director of marketing.
Rebori and his company's large-scale, international efforts have paid off. Earlier this year, Bio-Microbics was awarded with the President's “E” Star Award for Exports, the highest recognition any U.S. Company or organization can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. Exports. What's more, it was the only Kansas-based company to do so.
“Bio-Microbics has demonstrated a sustained commitment to export expansion. The "E" Awards Committee was very impressed with Bio-Microbics' utilization of multiple export markets to support growth and stability for the company,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in her congratulatory letter to the company announcing its selection as an award recipient. “The company's creative use of scholarly and graduate-level students’ skills to support market research was also particularly notable. Bio-Microbics' achievements have undoubtedly contributed to national export expansion efforts that support the U.S. economy and create American jobs.”
Rebori said he was honored to receive the award, which was presented during a ceremony in May in Washington, D.C.
“Most importantly, we are pleased to play an important role in providing environmental technologies and innovative wastewater treatment systems for homes, small communities, marine and commercial properties around the world,” he said in a press release. “With our global distributor network, Bio-Microbics has worked diligently to market creatively and help the businesses in these countries succeed with our products.”
While the “E” Star Award may be a major feather in the company's cap, the always-on-the-go Rebori has no plans to sit on his laurels. And that's no surprise for a man who has “since 1974 ... only had one sick day,” as Rebori said. He and Cisneros said future expansions are in the works, including to the size of the Shawnee headquarters.
“We're looking to triple the size of this building,” Rebori said. “We're working with the city of Shawnee.”
More information about Bio-Microbics and its products can be found at www.biomicrobics.com.