December 5, 2009
John Truscott runs a public relations firm in Lansing. He is working on a project to reduce the costs of wind power. He is starting a manufacturing company that will reduce the costs of producing windmills and make them more durable.
Kitts: Can you tell me a bit about your educational and professional background?
Truscott: I have a BA from MSU dual major with communications and political science. I worked full time in the state legislature as a senior and moved to the house of representatives after that for about a year and a half. I joined the Engler campaign for governor, and then went on to be his communications director for about 11 years, until I started my own public relations firm in 2001..
Kitts: Can you tell me a bit about the company that you are starting?
Truscott: We are doing two different parts. One part is the hub; the big heavy metal piece that they blades are put into. It’s a big machine part. We are working with a company called MAG that will build the machine that will take the time to make a hub from 20 hours to 4.5 hours. We are going to attack all sides at once to take out a lot of the costs and time it takes to manufacture. Right now, maunfacturers only build one side at a time, which makes labor costs a lot higher, and it takes a very long time to make. Right now all blades are made of fiberglass and by hand. We are in the process of negotiating with Dow to find a cheaper, stronger version of the blade. Right now, all of the blades break at about 5-7 years. Anyone who is financing them can no longer afford to replace them because they are so expensive. We hope to turn this into a totally automated process, in order to save on labor costs. MAG does a lot of carbon fiber airplane products right now. A blade is almost the same thing, the mold is different, but the machine and what it does is pretty much the same.
Kitts: What made you interested in starting up this company, and where do you and your partners want to take the company?
Truscott: I stumbled upon it because the guy with the main idea became a client. I helped him get publicity, articles, and interview and things like that, and he thought it could be a good partnership. There are actually three of us that are working on this project. Jeff is a really great salesman, who runs a manufacturing company and knows how things work. Roger has a lot of great contacts. I’m the guy who follows though and gets things done, legal work, and I help a lot with the government and regulations.
Kitts: What types of alternative energy sources do you expect that we will see in the future?
I ran across one the other day, a buddy of mine is looking into making ethanol machines that will make 50 gallons a day. He actually tried it on his car, and it was successful. They are working with Old Orchard, a juice maker. They are using the fruit parts that aren’t needed to make fruit juice, such as, seeds, peels, etc., and converting those parts into ethanol. You can buy these machines, and they will ship the fruit to you and after about a day of fermenting you will have about 50 gallons that you can use for your car. I also think that natural gas will make a big comeback. It is plentiful in the United States. Many buses are run on it, and people don’t realize that cars can run on natural gas too.
Kitts: Do you think that alternative sources of energy will eventually become the main sources of energy?
It depends on the cost, we need to bring down the cost. You can’t continue to subsidize it, since wind is very costly, it has to be subsidized. We plan to bring it down the price of wind power down to the price of a coal plant. With any alternative, you have to make it less expensive then what is there in order to gain general acceptance.
Kitts: Is there anyone in the legislature that might be against this type of company?
Truscott: Not that we have run into. They might be against the subsidizing of the tax credits. The legislatures are amazed when they see what they’ve got, and everyone seems ready for it.
Kitts: Is there anything that you would like to add about the company?
We think that the composites that what we will develop will be applicable to many other industries. Defense could use it, it seems like this new composite material will have a lot of military applications. German car companies use carbon fiber with is also expensive. This composite could revolutionize the car industry. The blade is the first thing we are doing, but these composites are just as strong as steel, and they are lighter, and don’t rust. This new composite material could revolutionize every industry.