Prior to meeting and forming a partnership with Steri-Green CEO and Founder, Ron Hankins, Rada Kleyman had a successful career in medical sales in the U.S. and Russia. After discovering Ron and learning about his vision, she was excited to get involved with a startup in the medical space. Kleyman, who serves as VP of Business Development, shared the story behind Steri-Green and how the medical waste disposal company she co-owns is saving clients money and time, while significantly reducing the impact of its service on the environment.
"Ron owns two other businesses," Kleyman said. "One is a pathology lab and the other manufactures pathology testing kits. Before founding Steri-Green, Ron was producing medical waste and paying a lot to have it safely disposed. The companies he used kept raising their prices. As a result, he sought out and found a better system. This search led him to the person that holds the patent to the technology behind the machines we now use. After discovering the technology, the patent holder become a silent partner and Ron and I, in December 2018, set out to build a new service-based business utilizing the new technology."
With Ron's background in operations and Kleyman's in sales, the two partners knew they could effectively penetrate a market controlled by large conglomerates. Although, as Kleyman shared, penetration is a tall order that certainly has its fair share of challenges.
"Medical waste disposal is a very monopolized market," she said. "Stericycle and Waste Management, the two big ones, are so large that through mergers and acquisitions they gobble everything up. They have all the municipality service contracts. Also, since Obamacare went into effect, provider networks have joined forces to make ends meet. This means you're no longer dealing with a local provider. You're dealing with a hospital whose corporate office is located in Chicago or New York. Everything is under a much larger network. Nothing is local. Another challenge is the mindset of the community and that of the healthcare providers. Most don't know there's a problem. We're literally running out of landfill space. Communicating our message takes a lot of dollars."
Regardless of competition, provider accessibility and communication challenges, with Steri-Green's earth-friendly solution and cost-effective approach to disposing of medical waste, the company is poised for tremendous future growth. They handle their clients disposal needs from end to end. This includes transporting the waste to the Steri-Green service center, shredding and/or recycling the waste and then transporting it to the landfill. Kleyman shared why this approach is so unique.
"We're a first of its kind type service center in Florida," she said. "There's not a single provider in the state that provides end-to-end service using alternative methods. We enable our clients to go green by safely disposing of their medical waste in a way that is both economical and environmentally-friendly. Our system and technology does not produce any by-products. Most standard processes, produce a very dangerous cocktail that is then absorbed by the ozone layer. With traditional technology, the impact on the environment is substantial. We're also 20-40% less than the traditional services. Our shredding reduces the amount of waste we produce and cuts down on our trips to the landfill. This saves us time and money. The savings are then passed on to our customers."
Looking ahead, Steri-Green would like to establish a presence from Texas to Florida and then eventually up the eastern seaboard. With a current inventory of 100+ machines, they're in a great position to scale. They're also working to get two major networks onboard.
What advice does Kleyman have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "A lot of people start a business and then quit because they don't see immediate results," she said. "We're very much an 'immediate results' society. Success takes time. You have to be willing to give it at least a year. Remember, if it doesn't work out, you can always go back to your medium wage job and complain about being unhappy."