Alan “Bud” Campbell’s Incredible Journey
Thomas A. Parmalee
With more than 100,000 cases of coronavirus reported worldwide, thousands dead and the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic, some people are starting to panic.
But not Alan “Bud” Campbell: He’s busy filling orders.
Campbell, owner and president of Global Environmental Restoration in Carencro, Louisiana, has been selling his hospital-grade disinfectant, SNiPER, at a brisk pace.
The solution, which is used by various industries, including funeral homes, kills viruses in the same class as coronavirus – and it also kills bacteria and mold – all while eliminating odors and being nontoxic, he says.
“Our testing and our registration with the Environmental Protection Agency is as a hospital-grade disinfectant – we test on everything – bacteria, viruses, and mold,”says Campbell, 71.
The product is sold and shipped via distributors with manufacturing facilities in California, Michigan, two in Canada, and elsewhere throughout the world.
“We do not use poison to kill viruses,” Campbell says. “It will attach to the virus on a molecular level, penetrate the cell wall and eliminate the virus.” Ever since the coronavirus – also called COVID-19 – erupted in China last year, there has been an increase in orders for the disinfectant, Campbell says.
Fortuitously, in 2015, Campbell began doing business with a distributor in China – and the Chinese government recently ordered 11,000 gallons of SNiPER, he says.
The only problem is that Campbell could not send the fluid via cargo plane to China as all flights there were canceled. So, it was shipped by boat from California and is expected to arrive soon.
In China, the fluid is private-labeled under the EZ-Clear brand, he says.
“They want to see ‘Made in the USA’ – so we bottle the fluid at our plant in California,” Campbell explains. “It is written in Chinese, but at the bottom, it says ‘Made in the USA’ – so they know it is a direct American product.”
Campbell’s distributor is located in Guangzhou, about 600 miles from Wuhan, the sprawling capital of Central China’s Hubei province.
His distributor, who already had contacts in the government, visited Chinese leaders after Wuhan was quarantined.
“Before the coronavirus, he was already selling small personal bottles to his market in China,” Campbell says. With the virus spreading, he gave away 30,000 small bottles to medical personnel, which could not have hurt in getting the large order from the Chinese government, which was in the six figures, Campbell says.
“It is probably the second biggest order we have ever gotten,” Campbell says, adding that his distributor’s service people have “VIP entrance” into Wuhan to apply the product in hospitals, schools, government buildings and other primary targets.
SNiPER most definitely kills the coronavirus, according to Campbell.
“Viruses come in two types: enveloped and nonenveloped,” he says. “Enveloped viruses are the most resistant in the virus class, so in that class you have avian bird flu and swine flu – and we have tested on both of those successfully.”
The same class of virus also includes Ebola and SARS – and the coronavirus is also enveloped, Campbell says.
SNiPER is also effective against gram-negative and grampositive bacteria, Campbell says.
When a new virus such as coronavirus takes the world by storm, it takes at least nine months for the EPA to test it at certified labs, Campbell says. Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency is not handing out coronavirus to labs, Campbell says. “Just like Ebola – there is no way they are going to ship Ebola to labs,” he says.
“All this shows you the importance of being able to meet a classification and make a claim because you are already established with true, proven efficacy,” Campbell says, noting that he has spent a substantial amount to prove efficacy on various EPA tests.
In addition to China, Campbell has distributors in Israel, Canada, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Romania.
In the United States, Campbell has about 30 distributors. “Through Amazon, our business is also growing rapidly, and we are doing new stuff there to exponentially grow, that our distributors benefit from, because they get to know our brand through Amazon and then find a distributor locally,” he says.
Campbell is not sure how many funeral homes are using SNiPER, but Chad Mouton of Acadiana Environmental Solutions is serving the death-care space, and Vernie Fountain of Fountain National Academy, has been a champion of the SNiPER Product, Campbell says.
Fountain, owner of Fountain National Academy of Professional Embalming Skills and Forensic Investigative Resources of the Midwest, came across SNiPER several years ago at a funeral directors convention where Mouton was exhibiting.
“I stopped and Chad was there – and they did a little demonstration, and I just kind of bought it,” Fountain says. “I started using it and very soon after I got some of it, I just switched over to using it all the time – I like it,” he says.
Fountain uses SNiPER for general cleaning in the embalming room – “instruments and things of that nature,” he says. “You can use it on the floor, but I mainly use it on instruments, cabinet tops, the embalming machine. I use it to clean things I want to disinfect.”
While he cannot attest to the scientific part of the formula, which he relies on the company to tell the truth about it, Fountain says he regularly recommends the product to his students.
In addition to funeral homes, the product is popular in hospitals, airlines, among law enforcement, sports, food services, and other sectors that require commercial disinfection, according to Campbell.
Chasing a Dream
The SNiPER formula was created by the late Gordon W. Rose, Ph.D., an epidemiologist and licensed funeral director who devoted his career to education and research and served as department chairman of the mortuary science program at Wayne State University in Detroit from 1986 to 1991.
Rose began experimenting with chlorine dioxide to eliminate odors because his wife did not like the odor of formaldehyde, according to Campbell.
“It is a gas in its pure form and will burn the skin – and he wanted to come up with a product because he knew what a great biocide chlorine dioxide is, but it was not ‘handle friendly,’” Campbell says. “He invented a formula and established it in an aqueous solution that is stable and friendly to animals, pets and the environment.”
Rose tested the solution at a funeral home he owned an interest in, Campbell says. “His wife hated the smell of formaldehyde, and he started spraying it in the funeral home, and it eliminated the smell,” Campbell says.
After developing the formula, Rose was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – but not before letting his neighbor, Larry Kaiser, start using it for his own purposes.
Kaiser, who operated a pet company called Amazing Concepts, wanted to see if the formula would also eliminate pet odors, so he tested it on cat urine – and it eliminated the odor, Campbell says.
After seeing how effective it was, Kaiser started filling up 5-gallon cans with the fluid and selling it at pet shows under the brand name Nok-Out, which Campbell still sells – in addition to SNiPER II. (The brand that has gone through all the EPA testing is SNiPER, Campbell says. The other labeled products are essentially the same but cannot make the same EPA claims.)
Every time Kaiser brought the cans to pet shows, they would sell out. The inventor – Rose – had no children, and after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he wrote the formula down and gave it to Kaiser, Campbell says.
“Larry recorded him explaining how to blend and make the formula,” Campbell says. “Larry was not a chemist, but he had a friend who knew someone who was a chemist who had retired from Chevron, and he took it to him. Less than nine months after that, the professor died, but before he did, he just handed it over to him,” Campbell says.
Rose developed the formula on his own, outside of any work he did at the university, Campbell emphasizes. “It would have been wonderful for him to find out where this product has gone,” he says. “The good part is he had the grace to pass this on to somebody who took it and built it into something – and then I got it and I took it to the commercial, industrial and international markets. It’s a sad thing that he had such a brief experience with it, but he left a legacy in the formula he invented.”
Sharon L. Gee-Mascarello, a licensed funeral director and instructor of mortuary science at Wayne State University, has fond memories of Rose, who was her embalming instructor.
“As an instructor, he was larger than life,” she says. “He was a very tall, thin gentleman, and when he walked into the lecture hall, he filled the doorframe. He would stand at the front of the class at the blackboard – we actually had chalk then – and he would put his very long leg up on the desk, lean his elbow on it and lecture to us.”
Gee-Mascarello recalls an open house when her brother, who is 6-foot-3, met the mighty Rose. “He shook hands and had a brief conversation, and then my brother looked at me and said he felt like he was being measured up for a casket.”
According to the Gordon W. Rose Endowed Scholarship at Wayne State University, Rose “traveled worldwide as a consultant to funeral service, private industry and the U.S. Air Force while continuing his studies in the effect of fungal diseases on humans and animals. Dr. Rose helped shape the lives of countless students, he was an expert in the field, a professional, teacher and friend to many.”
The formula will not react on skin but it will react with infection, Campbell says. “It will not hurt the cells of the body, but it reacts very quickly on microorganisms that are unfriendly to people and animals,” he says.
Campbell continues, “Products that are used to kill are usually toxic, meaning they kill the living organism cell by poisoning it – that is why they are lethal if swallowed. Our product does it by mechanical action. It takes the cell of the virus apart but leaves the living organism intact – it is very unique.”
Over the years, the formula has been tweaked, Campbell says. “We improved on it a little bit. It is like a cake mix – we’ve done variations but we still stay within the foundation formula.”
Campbell, a longtime resident of Lafayette, Louisiana, entrenched in the oil and gas industry, encountered Nok-Out – the label that Kaiser was selling the formula under – while working in New Orleans. He passed it on to a friend of his in the HVAC business who serviced oil rigs offshore.
Campbell’s friend told him the formula was 100% successful in eliminating odors from HVAC systems and cleaning coils and that they “may have something here,” Campbell says.
Campbell tracked down Kaiser through one of his distributors and told him he thought the product was very impressive. “Within two months of me having made that connection, he flew down and we signed a contract,” says Campbell, who was granted an exclusive distributorship.
Finding the formula was a dream come true for Campbell, who had built dozens of distributorships for various companies – mostly in the oil and gas production business – during his career.
“In 1992, I went out on my own and became a manufacturer’s rep for petrochemical products – I did that for 12 years, and when I found this formula … something in my gut went off,” he says. “I had always wanted to find a product that everyone needed but no one had. So, for 12 years, I had been representing different products when I saw this product that was basically unknown and used for pets in a limited geographic area. That lightbulb went off …and I thought this is what I have been hoping to run into for all these years.”
Campbell, who had been serving as a representative for six different products, stopped selling all of them and “like the poker player says, I went ‘all in’ on Nok-Out and asked if I could do a private label.”
And that is how SNiPER was born. “I prayed about it,” Campbell says on how he came up with the name. “And I feel the Lord led me to a definition. I had a couple weeks to come up with a brand name to put in the contract, and I thought of ‘kill’ – and I looked up the word ‘kill’ in the thesaurus and it had, ‘destroy, eliminate, and sniper.’ And sniper leaped off the page – and I immediately started sketching out my first logo and sent it to a graphics person.”
Establishing a SNiPER distributorship allowed Campbell not only to have a private label but to start having EPA tests done under his brand name. Kaiser continued to sell Nok-Out to his customers, and Campbell – with his exclusive commercial industrial contract with Amazing Concepts in hand – began chasing his dream.
Campbell teamed up with a business partner and started marketing SNiPER as a decontaminant to oil and gas businesses with offshore living quarters. “We did a test on one platform and did pre- and post-testing, and it wiped everything out,” Campbell says.
For almost four years, Campbell and his partner – who ultimately left the business after being promoted to part-owner of the company he worked at – sold the solution to dozens of major oil and gas platforms in the Gulf region – and in 2011, he signed a purchase agreement with Kaiser. He completed the acquisition in 2014, and now he owns both the SNiPER and Nok-Out brands.
According to Nok-Out’s website:
Global Environmental Restoration, Inc. took the revolutionary pet odor elimination chemical called Nok-Out and established a goal to introduce it for other commercial uses. In 2005, their chemists improved on the chlorine dioxide formula, introducing the new hospital grade disinfectant, SNiPER. Oil companies began using SNiPER in their living quarters at their offshore drilling field locations for removal of bacteria, viruses, and mold.
GER continued to push the product into other industries for disinfectant applications including using it in the Hurricane Katrina clean up. GER is now distributing NokOut and SNiPER throughout the United States and in global markets such as Israel and Turkey.
The Nok-Out and SNiPER formulas are some of the earliest stabilized Chlorine Dioxide compounds on the odor elimination/disinfectant market. These CLO2 formulas will effectively eliminate bacteria, viruses, mold, and VOC’s keeping the original surfaces and finishes unharmed. They are also some of the very few formulas that are not toxic to the environment as well as people and animals.
Speaking of how he’s grown the company, Campbell explains, “I already had SNiPER under trademark, and then Larry transferred Nok-Out to me. He had eight distributors when we did the acquisition and they never had sold SNiPER. They did not understand much about it because they had only sold Nok-Out, so we had them all come in, and we did a threeday training and they were excited knowing they could continue with Nok-Out and also get a new product line. All but two of them stayed with us. One of Larry’s distributors is our No. 1 seller on Amazon.”
As far as coronavirus and increased sales, Campbell says there is “a certain fear factor” driving the trend.
“Coronavirus is not hard to kill … what makes it dangerous is its rapid infection transfer from person to person,” Campbell says. “With Ebola, you needed body fluids to go from person to person – like a direct sneeze or a hand to the mouth. But coronavirus, you can get it by an infected surface. Someone can sneeze at a table, and you can get it if you sit down in that area. It is more easily contracted, and that is what makes it potentially dangerous.”
While it is a very dangerous virus, it has also been very good for his business. “I have been shipping all over the place,” Campbell says. “I have probably tripled my production to keep up with orders.”
Still Campbell considers himself a little fish in a big pond. “We have something very unique and we are growing, but we are small compared with Clorox and others,” he says. “But I believe where we are at right now … we are at the point, to use a business term, of critical mass. We have been working quietly for 15 years with a new product and have had to educate people – it has been a long laborious process just like every business, and no one notices you until you start being a little successful.”