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Sault truck-washing firm cleans up at Global Traders Awards
April 18, 2004


Friday, April 16, 2004 - 09:00

Local News - How do you wash 30 tractor trailers in an hour and use only about 380 litres of fresh water for each truck?

If you’re Jyrki Koro, you design a 90-metre tunnel that sprays the trucks with jets, pumping out around 4,500 litres of recycled water a minute.

Koro, 40, is president of Sault Ste. Marie-based Truck Wash Technologies Inc., which took home an honourable mention in the market expansion — service category at the Ontario government’s 6th Annual Ontario Global Traders Awards for the Northern region, handed out at Algoma’s Water Tower Inn on Thursday.

The first such truck washing facility was built in Torino, Italy, in October, but another should soon spring up in Ontario and the company plans to turn the idea into a franchise.

“Commercial truck washing has been done for years, in different ways ... everything from a brush and soap bucket, to all kinds of elaborate things. But to do the high-capacity cleaning like we’re doing there’s really only one way, which is a drive-through type that washes as they go,” said Koro, who was born and raised in the Sault.

The awards, handed out by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, recognize achievement by Ontario-based small- to medium-sized businesses employing 200 or fewer workers. They’ve all been in business for at least three fiscal years, have sales of $100 million a year or less, and have exports to one or more countries that make up at least 15 per cent of their total sales.

Regional award winners were:

n Sudbury’s Varis-Smart Underground Communications in the innovation category;

n Axiom (Colquhoun Audio Laboratories Ltd.), of Dwight;

n Tom C. Palangio, president of TOPEX Inc., based in Bonfield, in the individual category.

None of the Sault winners qualified to compete at the provincial awards, which take place next month in Toronto — only the regional winners move on.

But Sault-based business, Driving Force Internet Group, was given an award of merit in the innovation category, and Teleflex — Advanced Thermodynamics got a similar nod in the market expansion — product category.

Laurentian University student Zankhana Ughadpaga, who lives in the Sault, won an award of merit in the student category, while Algoma University College’s Stephanie Pearce received an honourable mention for her internship work with RAPIDSuccess Business Growth Association, helping small- and medium-sized businesses find export opportunities.

Ughadpaga, 23, was born and raised in India, and used her experience in her native country to help St. Marys Paper on a project to develop paper exports to India as part of her work with the RAPIDSuccess Business Growth Association.

“I think the first thing was the attitude of the business community there, the negotiations skills, because I worked at a bank in India before I came here, I know how things work there,” said Ughadpaga, who started her bachelor of commerce at Laurentian in Sudbury and finishes it at Algoma University College in June.

She plans to stay in Sault Ste. Marie, but hopes to be in international trade somewhere down the line.

“I think my future goal would be to have a business somewhere overseas with my family,” said Ughadpaga.
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