By GREGORY ZELLER // Its focus – drying wood – isn’t sexy. Its fundraising – while promising – is so far nonexistent. Its patents are pending and its commercialization strategy is the definition of deliberate, what its CEO calls a “realistic pathway into the marketplace.”
But for everything it’s not yet, Triglia Technologies is a textbook case of how to win customers and influence investors, and one of Long Island’s best examples of diligence and dynamic thinking.
That’s according to Mark Lesko, executive director of the regional business booster Accelerate Long Island, who considers CEO Joseph Triglia’s approach to building his namesake firm nimble, steady and very impressive.
“From our perspective, this is a really great model for developing startup investment opportunities on Long Island,” Lesko told Innovate LI. “You’ve got a talented founder, an interesting idea and a program that can really provide the support to get them to the point where they’re investment-ready.”
The program is the Clean Energy Business Incubator Program at Stony Brook University, where Triglia Technologies is a member. The idea is a unique method for drying lumber that could cut drying time from months to hours – a gonzo prospect for several industries, including the critical construction trades.
And the talented founder is Triglia, who – when not challenging scientific dogma about the relationship between microwaves and radio frequencies – is busy cultivating friendships in high places: Lesko, CEBIP director David Hamilton, the Long Island Angel Network, even the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which is close to funding proof-of-concept tests that could fast-track Triglia Technologies’ commercial development.
The firm has not yet been awarded a $250,000 NYSERDA grant, though it’s close. A NYSERDA spokeswoman declined to comment, but Triglia said he was “at the contract stage” with authority officials and hopes to receive a check by the end of the summer.
The NYSERDA grant would fund 18 months of research and development focused on improving existing microwave-based methods for drying woodchips. Experimentation and data analysis will be conducted by Evoworld, a Troy-based manufacturer of high-efficiency biomass heating systems, which use wood pellets and chips as fuel.
“We’re going to drop off a few tons of our product after we dry it, to have it certified that these woodchips exceed standard moisture levels,” Triglia said.
The data accumulated by Ecoworld will be critical to Triglia Technologies’ master wood-drying plan, which combines microwave-based methods with radio frequency techniques to create a drying system that extends from woodchips to “dimensional lumber” – your standard two-by-four, for instance – and leaves conventional practices in the sawdust.
Triglia, who holds an associate’s degree in aeronautical engineering from SUNY Farmingdale, conceived the Triglia Method “just by being involved with microwaves and knowing what they like and dislike.” He already holds one U.S. patent for a method of bending wine barrel staves into flooring and decorative molding, and that early work led to his radio frequency epiphany.
“I was using microwaves to bend them straight or bend them into shapes,” Triglia said. “When I dug deeper and started doing research, I realized the microwaves were great for pre-drying and post-drying, and the same for radio frequencies, but neither was good for the entire drying method.
“They both have great individual attributes,” he added. “And when you combine them, you can dry dimensional lumber as a pure process. So I’m putting them together.”
According to Triglia, the combination could reduce drying times for dimensional lumber from the traditional 30 to 60 days to just one day. Such a titanic evolution could have global economic ramifications, but there’s one significant roadblock that’s so far prevented it: science.
“If you put them together in a chamber, microwaves and radio frequencies nullify each other,” Triglia noted. “No one has come up with a method to segregate the microwaves and radio frequencies and still be able to combine them.”
Until now, that is. Triglia Technologies will share Ecoworld’s data with a radio-frequency engineer, who will create computer models that “give us an arrangement of microwaves and radio frequencies in the same chamber,” according to Triglia, whose designs inside the chamber will “help them work together.”
With international patents pending, the inventor is hesitant to reveal much more. But if all goes according to plan, the Triglia Method will soon power a combination microwave-radio frequency machine that blasts the wood-drying universe into super-speed.
Though he’s still collating data and determining how to incorporate a “moisture monitoring system” into his phase-two tech, Triglia already has plenty of believers. The CEO noted an International Searching Authority – a body that helps companies through the Patent Cooperation Treaty process, basically an application for an international patent – has informed the company that “this will be a patent.”
And with Triglia Technologies looking to raise $400,000 in an opening funding round, the company has also found favor among Long Island’s angel investors. Triglia wouldn’t name names, but said “a few Long Island angels have committed” and he hopes to begin receiving funding this summer.
Triglia was scheduled to meet this week with a potential private investor – a highly regarded Long Island-based mulch and firewood distributor, he noted – and was planning to pitch the Long Island Contractors Association later this month.
But Triglia Technologies’ biggest fan may still be Lesko, who noted Triglia has pitched Accelerate Long Island and the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund. While the investment partners are still performing diligence, “it’s fair to say he’s a real investment opportunity,” according to Lesko.
“Joe definitely pivoted,” he noted. “The initial technology was different from his current version, which is a result of some real in-depth market analysis.
“We like that,” Lesko added. “You can’t just be a founder with an idea. Joe has a finance expert within his company, he’s worked to protect his intellectual property and he’s found industry partners.
“From our perspective, that’s checking all the boxes.”