by Carlos David Mogollón, Managing Editor
With an infectious laugh, Mike Stark rivets you with stories from his long career in the water industry. Since 1965, he's held a number of executive jobs at companies, including USFilter during its stock-leveraged buyout frenzy before Paris-based Vivendi bought it in 1999. He's been president of Mobley Environmental Services, Veolia Water North America – from which he retired in 2005 – and now Basin Water.
Stark came out of retirement in October 2006 to lead the Rancho Cucamonga, CA, business after its successful $50 million IPO that May, pulled away from Texas' tennis courts by Basin founder and then-CEO Peter Jensen to restructure the company for sustainable growth. He was familiar with it due to an interest in purchasing the company on behalf of Veolia at one point. He said Jensen realized he was a good entrepreneur, but not the best manager for a $19 million public company. Stark took on the challenge and spent a year putting good business systems in place as well as developing alliances to better project future revenues and diversify beyond a wellhead treatment firm specializing in ion exchange for potable water.
Last September, Basin bought Memphis' Mobile Process Technology Inc. for $11.8 million, giving it an ability to treat different size wellheads and for offsite resin regeneration, access to key industrial markets, and a foothold in the Southeast. In November, it announced a technology and revenue sharing alliance with Rohm & Haas giving it exclusive access to certain of the ion exchange resin-maker's technologies, including a carbon-competitive, steam-regenerable media for removal of synthetic organics such as MTBE, PCE, TCE and naturally occurring VOCs. And, in February, it signed a deal with Canada's Purifics ES Inc. for access to its photocatalysis organics destruction technology. These technologies also offer metals recovery services that enabled Basin to land a mine water treatment contract in May with Water & Earth Science Associates Ltd., its first large order in the industrial market following MPT's acquisition.
Stark, who became Basin's CEO as well as president in February, stresses the company has turned the corner, is growing its sales force and is headed forward with a new low lifecycle cost and pay-for-performance business model that underscores the nature of today's value-added business world. Click here to read "An Interview with Basin Water's Mike Stark" in full in Q&A format.