Like all good business success stories, CO2Meter started out as an idea on the back of a napkin. In 2007, Ray and Irene Hicks had returned from an international industrial trade show. They were researching gas sensors for Irene’s company that manufactured gas detection devices for South African mining operations. Walking through the exhibits the couple noticed that measuring carbon dioxide was a growth business that was only beginning to to catch on in the United States.
Why CO2? Everywhere in the world, heating fuel was expensive relative to the US. The rest of the world turned off the heat when rooms were unoccupied. This was especially true in Scandinavian countries like Sweden, where they were early adopters of the ultra-low energy passive house standard for architectural design.
To automate turning heat on and off - and test for stagnant air - other countries used HVAC systems controlled by carbon dioxide sensors. When people entered the room, the CO2 level went up and the HVAC system turned on. When they left the system turned off.
In addition to energy savings, CO2 is the proverbial “canary in the mineshaft.” High CO2 levels in sealed rooms correlate with high levels of dust, dander, germs, microbes and other particles. In addition, studies have shown that high levels of carbon dioxide in enclosed areas result in drowsiness and poor student and worker performance.
Convinced that measuring CO2 indoors would be a growing US market, in 2008 one employee was hired part-time and a single-page website was launched. Our first product was the TIM8, a desktop CO2 monitor manufactured by HANA Engineering from South Korea and built around SenseAir AB’s K-22 NDIR CO2 sensor (both shown here). The TIM-8 was sold from the website, at HVAC trade shows, and by an infomercial you can still see here that aired several times on television.
As sales increased the first year, customers told us they were looking for a portable CO2 meter. Our second product was the pSense, a battery-operated version of the TIM-8. By the end of the second year, we were selling a case of CO2 meters every week. Not yet a profitable business, but clearly the interest was growing.
In 2009, Ray was answering emails daily from researchers, scientists and OEM manufacturers looking for an accurate way to measure CO2. He set up a workshop in his garage and began building custom products around SenseAir’s new line of K-30 and K-33 CO2 sensor modules.
At the same time, a new, e-Commerce website www.CO2Meter.com was launched with product lines and articles about CO2. You can still see it here online. When CO2Meter.com was first launched, the most common question we answered on the phone and via email was "What's the difference between CO and CO2?" To answer the question we published this article. It is still one of our most viewed online today.
As sales grew, the company relocated from Michigan to Florida to be near Ray and Irene’s new home. CO2Meter, Inc. was formed with Ray as President and Irene as CEO.
Today CO2Meter occupies multiple buildings in an industrial park in Ormond Beach, Florida. 20 full-time employees are responsible for manufacturing, shipping, sales and service. In 2017 Irene Hicks was honored by the Commonwealth Institute as CEO, entrepreneur and businesswomen running one of Florida's finest women-led companies.
2019 started the next chapter of CO2Meter. Travis Lenander, former Vice President of Operations became the new owner and CEO, while Irene and Ray stepped down to take active roles as CEO and President of CO2Meter’s new sister company GasLab.com. Their new focus is to expand on oxygen and other sensor technologies.
Even after a 10 years, the success of CO2Meter is a combination of great customers and our continuing interest in solving their gas sensing challenges. We look forward to another decade of success.