Shrewsbury Firm Goes Mano-A-Mano With Germs

February 13, 2018
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Thomas French is the CEO and president of Zoono USA, which sells an antimicrobrial technology to stop the spread of germs. Photo by John Sorce

By John Sorce |

SHREWSBURY – During the worst flu season in recent memory, a borough company is offering a product featuring antimicrobial technology that it hopes can change the way people deal with germs.

The product, Zoono, acts like an “invisible glove,” leaving behind a protective barrier when it dries. It is especially useful as a hand sanitizer. It lasts up to 24 hours on the skin and 30 days on a hard surface, according to the company.

“The way I like to look at this is we are changing the world one hand at a time,” said Thomas French, president and CEO of Zoono USA, headquartered in the Revmont Park complex at 1151 Broad St. The five-person office oversees U.S. distribution of the product manufactured in South Carolina and packaged in Monroe.

When Zoono is applied to surfaces and dries, the micro-thin coating firmly bonds to the surface.

The company likens it to putting down a layer of a million “pins” that attach to the surface and attract, puncture and either kill or inactivate germs on impact. The process is called “lysis” but the company says it can be understood like a “pin popping a balloon.”

“By putting a barrier between you and germs, either on surfaces or on hands, you’ve materially reduced what is the cycle of infection of sharing germs,” French said, explaining the barrier eliminates the possibility of bacteria building up an immunity, like so-called “super bugs.”

French, a resident of Rumson with a background in sales and marketing, first got involved with Zoono two years ago when local investors approached him with the idea of launching the New Zealand product in the U.S. He was skeptical at first, but the idea really grew on him. “I didn’t know anything about chemistry when they asked me but the more I looked at their idea… you can tell how excited I am about hand sanitizer,” French said. “It is truly that exciting to me even now, two years later.”

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In order for a hand sanitizer to be compliant with the Food and Drug Administration, it needs to kill 99.9 percent of germs in 60 seconds and must include either ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or benzalkonium chloride. Zoono uses the latter, because it does not require alcohol and it dissolves in water, French said. It is safe for people, pets and plants, according to the company.

Zoono products are sold online and in some local pharmacies. A hand sanitizer twin-set costs $9.99.

“The way an alcohol sanitizer works is it will dehydrate the germ,” French said. “It extracts all of the water from the cell that is the germ and it shrivels up and can no longer function. It kills the germ by dehydrating it, but that’s only good as long as the alcohol is still wet on your hand, which is a matter of seconds, then it goes away. Your hands may be germ-free at that point, but as soon as the alcohol dries and you touch the next thing, you’ve started the process of recontamination.”

Zoono is going after the $1.2 billion U.S. disinfectant market. Although focused primarily on their hand sanitizer, the company also produces various other products, including an aerosol to contain odor-causing germs, wound cleanser and acne medication, and surface products that can be sprayed on tables, walls and devices. A 20-item Zoono product line is available for purchase on Amazon.com, ranging from $9.99 for a set of two 50 ml GermFree24 foam hand sanitizers to $74.99 for the GermFree24 1000 ml two-pack hand sanitizer plus touch-free dispenser.

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“If you get a scrape or something, you spray this on there,” French said about the GermFree24 nonstinging wound cleansers, which are sold as a set of two for $9.99 on Amazon. “It will kill the germs, but it will also set up this barrier so that more germs won’t get onto that broken skin.”

The product is also sold online at Walmart.com and CVS, under the co-branded name CVS Health Advanced Antiseptic. Locally, it can be purchased at Rumson Pharmacy, Little Silver Family Pharmacy and Red Bank Family Pharmacy.

One place you might be surprised to find Zoono is the Shrewsbury Car Wash.

“They love the product because the aerosol is a beautiful way of treating the car,” said French. Detailers have discovered that if they spray the product and blast the air conditioning, it gets rid of bad odors, like spilled milk. “It actually kills the germs that cause the odor, and it doesn’t have an odor. It just smells fresh and clean, instead of piney or ocean breezy,” French said.

He said it also works on moldy basements, kitchen odors, stinky cleats and goalie gloves. With three boys who play lacrosse, French said he can verify this claim from personal experience.


This article was first published in the Feb. 8-15, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.

 

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