Seabrook business reinvents itself to survive, fight coronavirus

SEABROOK, Texas (KTRK) -- Businesses across the board are feeling the financial impacts of coronavirus, but when AK Wet Works in Seabrook began to see a downturn in their field, they quickly jumped on the opportunity to restructure their workflow.

Their new game plan has put them at the forefront of fighting this crisis, by sanitizing public areas in a short period of time.

"AK Wet Works is a three-year-old company, a small business and most importantly it's a family business. We set up this company as a coatings and sandblasting company," operations manager Dennis Hotz said.

They know most of their clientele that are generally at the chemical plants are not going to be using them right now because a lot of the contractors are being sent home.

"Therefore, we're not going to be working" manager Amber Riise said.

So, the company was faced with challenges: Figuring out how to survive this crisis while also working to help other neighboring businesses and families.

"We actually came to the idea of why can't we take our blast pots and actually create a vapor that can be mixed with a disinfectant, so we can actually sterilize things around us" said Hotz.

The idea was simple. Help local businesses, especially those who are essential right now like grocery stores and gas stations, by disinfecting their surfaces on larger scales.

They started looking into retrofitting their machines to spray a disinfecting vapor that's safe, but effective on viruses and bacteria.

"We can come in and just give it a good vapor blasting with the Corona killer, is what we're calling it," said employee Amy Doyle. "And just sanitize that for everyone."

The dustless blaster machines are manufactured by a local company, MMLJ. Blain LeCompte, the VP of production, said they're excited about the vapor conversions.

"This helps us all out doing these conversions, helps us to keep our employees employed as well" said LeCompte.

As AK Wet Works moves forward into this new workflow, they said they're going to need help, and soon.

"We're going to be able to hire lots of employee,s and make sure that we can go out and get all of these places disinfected" Riise said.

Their equipment will allow them to cover up to 20,000 feet an hour with one machine and four nozzles. While the company is happy to stay open during these times, they're proud of what they'll be able to do for the community moving forward.

"We know we've got to reach out and protect our families and stay in business so we can reach out to more families. Cause again, at the end of the day, there's, there's nothing left but family" said Hotz.

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