The world has become very familiar with the importance of disinfecting as of late, but long before the pandemic arrived, Montreal’s Unimanix Industry Company was busy perfecting clever technology to kill both germs and viruses, more quickly and more thoroughly.
Now Unimanix, through its unique Pax Innovations handheld electrostatic sprayers, is ensuring that a wide variety of the environments we use can be kept free of infection more effectively – and much more easily.
Unimanix has been manufacturing sanitizing and cleaning equipment since 1993, but its Pax handheld sprayers take the practice up a notch, employing electrostatic-charging technology that safely treats 4,000 to 6,000 square feet of surface area with each 600ml tank of water-based disinfectant fluid.
Manufacturing industrial pressure-washing systems and cleaning systems remain the company’s core business, although over the years it has added products such as industrial steamers – useful in many applications, including de-icing pipes and sanitising surfaces in the food processing industry, for instance.
“You need cleaning and sanitizing across the board really,” says President Nazareth Tankarian. “In general, all of our products in terms of our pressure washers and cleaning systems lend themselves to different applications in different Industries.”
The precursor to Unimanix’s electrostatic sprayers was born in niche areas of soap and detergent application, he says, with clients looking for a way to achieve a very uniform surface coverage with the highest quality of mist.
“We took that request and put it in this compact handheld unit version, using the technology and adding the electrostatic technology components. The pandemic really was the main driver of taking existing systems that already existed, adding the electrostatic components, and packaging everything into a compact, handheld version.”
Unimanix had been manufacturing sanitizing equipment for more than 27 years by the time they moved to electrostatic sprayers, which seemed like a natural extension of the products they were already offering, says Tankarian.
“We took all our manufacturing-related competencies, including material resource planning, setting up an assembly line, and coming up with work instructions to quickly train the technicians. We put it to use so it wasn’t just on the product front that we leveraged our experience. It just fits well with our portfolio that we’re offering.”
Over the years, the company has worked with numerous different distributors and industries, and some of those partners have played a key role in getting the sprayers out there.
“We feel like what helps us in our workplace culture is our ‘get things done’ attitude,” says Tankarian. “We like to take things on, we like challenges. I think it’s really a part of the DNA of the team. Also in terms of diversity, we – and this is by design – we have women in all different departments in charge of various roles ranging from procurement to technician roles, something we don’t often see in a traditionally industrial manufacturing business.”
Decision-making through diversity
Tankarian feels this type of diversity is important in bringing many different points of view to the table, which at the end of the day help the company to make the right decisions.
“I feel like it’s one of our key strengths,” he says. “I find it a competitive advantage to be able to draw on advice coming from different members of our team who each bring different perspectives.”
Unimanix is also very customer-centric, which is a point of difference in an industry not necessarily known for top-notch customer care. It remains vital for Tankarian, however, to provide outstanding personal service and attention to clients at all times.
Supporting the community
“When we launched the product, we prioritized daycares, schools, and religious institutions,” says Tankarian. “When I say prioritized delivery of the product to them, I mean pricing-wise as well; we provided them with heavy discounts and we’ve actually made a lot of donations.”
While the company doesn’t highlight its generosity on social media channels, it has made a number of donations to various women’s shelters and organizations such as Women Building Futures, an institution that helps women acquire skill sets in non-conventional, non-typical industries – just one of Unimanix’s many ways of giving back to make a difference.
Fighting to control the spread of bacteria and viruses remains at the forefront as well, as the pandemic spreads and shifts.
“Disinfection is going to be a part of our day-to-day for a while,” says Tankarian. “What people forget is that infection-control measures were already in place before the pandemic, but they weren’t necessarily visible to us every day because their focus was infection control in certain Industries, like education or in healthcare.”
In education, for example, seasonal flu and viruses have always meant a substantial number of absentees from schools at certain times every year. The use of electrostatic disinfectant sprayers greatly reduces the transfer of viruses overall, particularly from high-touch surfaces inside educational institutions.
“I think the pandemic really highlighted the need for infection control and disinfection measures, and I just hope that the importance we allocate to keeping our environments clean and safe does not take a back seat moving forward,” he says.
When this virus is under control, it’s inevitable that another will eventually come, he says, although Unimanix has never played the “fear game” with its clients, working only to help reduce germs and bacteria as a regular, practised service. He doesn’t underplay the serious nature of these diseases, however.
“We do need to be careful, whether in schools or hospitals or in public transport environments. It could be very dangerous,” he says. “We have a product that really helps reduce the transfer of infectious disease and that’s what we do.”
Tankarian has plans of expanding the company into the U.S. and Europe, the creation of a full production team, operations team, and customer service team already being implemented.
“We intend to move in that direction by expanding geographies, while also developing new products,” he says. “We intend to come up with newer generations of electrostatic disinfectant sprayers and other infection control products, so for us it was never a temporary opportunity. We’re here for the long term.”
As proud as he is of his products, he sees his biggest accomplishment as being part of a team of people who are able to empathize with customers, distributors and end users. He applauds his team’s extraordinary efforts during the pandemic, putting in extra hours to ensure that schools, churches, and temples would get their units on time.
“Nobody was asked to put in extra hours or work extra hard to meet deadlines for the pick-up from shipping companies,” he says. “We were delivering – and we continue to deliver – these units to the shipping dock every day before the cutoff time at 7:30. And everyone did that with pleasure. I’m grateful I have such a team. I view that as an accomplishment, I really do.”
He adds that it’s a major obstacle for an entrepreneur of any business to not have a reliable team, with the right people – caring team members – in place.
“At the outset of the pandemic when all business owners and operators were facing so much uncertainty and we had no idea what was in store for us, I made a commitment to myself and my team that we were going to retain every single member of them no matter what, and we stuck to it,” he says. “This was long before we even launched the electrostatic sprayer, and before the government had announced any sort of measures to help companies retain their staff. We made that commitment and we stuck to it.”
It’s a part of the company’s mission statement, he says. We are a for-profit company, but the growth has to come hand-in-hand with the personal development and growth of each member of the team.
Unimanix still qualifies as a small to medium enterprise, and Tankarian has the luxury of being able to care for everybody on the team.
“It hasn’t gone beyond my control or my ability to be able to sit down and talk to each and every one, and understand where they are and where they want to get to, and how we can play a role in that,” he says. “It’s important that I can ensure that they’re on a path of personal development.”
Going forward, Tankarian hopes to expand globally, helping control infectious germs in a variety of industries around the world.
“We’d like to be a Canadian player, a Canadian manufacturer with a presence in the global market,” he says. “That’s a big driver for me. It would make me very proud to say that this small Canadian company has its products present on different continents.”