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  • Writer's pictureMichael McMahon

Our Story: From Idea to Innovation

Hecto Group partners with manufacturers and industry leaders to create exponential value through unique market solutions protected by intellectual property. We use first principles to tackle and solve global needs including cooling, air sanitation, energy storage, and water treatment.

Our origin story dates back to 2009 when our founder John Bergida was in his senior year and about to start the MBA program at Benedictine College. He entered the annual Big Idea Competition, hosted inside a trolley bus looping around campus, with the winning concept for a self-cooling beverage can that was activated at the push of a button. John used the funds from the 1st place award to file his first patent.

Invention runs in Bergida's DNA. John’s great-grandfather, Ralph T. Ross, invented the first car locks that were put on the Model-T Ford, as well the bobby pin hair clip. Grandpa Ross received patents but never commercialized them. This inspired John to have the determination to one day start his own business and to create a core team capable of designing and commercializing innovative products.

The company started out under the name of “Frosty Cold” with the goal of building and licensing the self-cooling can idea. The dean of the Business School at the time connected John with a Kansas City serial entrepreneur, Steve Sharpe, as well as the accomplished lawyer/engineer/environmentalist, David Leavitt.

Steve believed in what John wanted to accomplish and became the first investor and is Hecto Group’s current Executive Chairman. David was intrigued by the challenge presented to develop a non-toxic and low-cost instant cooling material and is now Hecto Group’s Chief Technology Officer.

David’s extensive background includes work as a chemical engineer with Farmland, Allied Signal, Honeywell, and GM. Later earning his law degree, he worked with the State of Oklahoma for University/Corporate partnerships overseeing 155+ startups. David continued on to become an entrepreneur and founded many of his own companies. Returning to the field of government, he worked as an attorney and later as the director for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry doing environmental work enforcing laws against waste and pollution. Appointed as an administrative law judge, David oversaw over 10,000 cases with the role of protecting human health and the environment.

Officially started in 2010 once John completed his MBA, the first five years of the young company’s life were focused on developing the instant cooling powder (just-add-water) with the US Patent 9,039,924 “Cooling Agent for Cold Packs and Food and Beverage Containers” finally being issued in 2015. That marked a real turning point from the company just being a part-time venture to both John and Steve jumping in full-time.

The brand name was updated to Frosty Tech with the first products finding commercialization in the cold-chain space for the shipping of perishable products and medications. The Enviro Ice line of gel packs powered by Frosty Tech helped to meet a growing market need for a drain-safe formula while also becoming the first to double as plant-food with independent field growth studies showing it’s excellent secondary use as a fertilizer.

University studies with the Colorado School of Mines using membranes to remove the Frosty Tech instant coolant for re-use in a continuous and closed-loop cooling system also sparked the genesis of another brand, Solute Smart. One application is the use of membrane distillation for handling brines and wastewater streams to enable the isolation and removal of radium as well as being able to concentrate and extract valuable minerals such as lithium and cobalt.

The base knowledge of thermodynamics and phase-change materials with Frosty Tech also led to the creation of our brand Eon Dynamic to deliver thermal and energy storage solutions. One example of this is capturing the waste heat thrown off by a diesel generator to keep it warm in arctic environments. This allows for the cycling of the unit instead of running 24/7 and translates into thousands of gallons of fuel saved every year off of just one generator.

In March of 2020 in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, David Leavitt sent a text to John Bergida which read “I have a new product for us. An air purifier technology that will destroy the coronavirus. I invented it 15 years ago but didn’t have the time and resources to commercialize it. Should be patentable since it uses a novel ----- Will send info by email. Stay safe!” Fast-forward less than 80 days and six prototypes later and independent lab testing shows that our latest brand, Micron Pure, achieves over 99.995% inactivation of airborne pathogens just 1/4 the size of the novel Coronavirus in a split second on a single pass through the machine.

With such an expanded scope of brands and technology platforms, the company officially became Hecto Group in the Summer of 2020. “Hecto-” is a prefix in the metric system that denotes a factor of one hundred, i.e. hectoliter, hectometer, and hectogram. References to a hundredfold are likewise seen throughout scripture and in a particular way in Mark 4:8 “Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold”. Our company is guided by both science and faith. We identify and attack problems that can yield 100x the time, energy, and financial resources we put into them. As stewards of the talents given to us, our mission is to develop solutions that protect both human health and the environment.

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