Kevin Albers ’13 and his dad, Chuck, are using their expertise in heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) to deter the aerial spread of the coronavirus. In early 2020, one of Minnesota’s leading health care organizations, a client of their custom sheet metal company Albers Mechanical Contractors, requested a solution to address COVID-19 in hospital isolation room settings. Kevin and company President Chuck figured out a way to safely sanitize standard hospital rooms for COVID-19 patients and their caregivers by creating negative pressure to purify the air. The duo soon realized the potential of their new product.
“The solution captures and destroys harmful pathogens, like SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants, as well as indoor air pollutants,” said Kevin about their commercial-grade air purifier called ISO-Aire.
The team combined 50-plus years of experience in air purification technology, HVAC, and mechanical contracting expertise to develop the product, which is now in use across a variety of industries.
“It’s rewarding to speak with school principals, senior living facility managers, small business owners, and day care providers who rely on our product to protect their students, customers, employees – and themselves during the pandemic,” he said. “I think about those college lessons at St. Thomas in pursuing your passion and purpose for the greater good, and it is rewarding to know our innovative product is making a positive difference during a time when it is desperately needed.”
The company’s ISO-Aire now is purifying the air in more than 50 facilities across the U.S., from Hawaii to New York. The patent-pending ISO-Aire filtration solution captures and destroys 99.99% of viruses, bacteria, mold, pollen and other airborne contaminants through use of proven components, including HEPA filters, Ultraviolet-C (UVC) sterilization and ozone-free bipolar ionization. The product comes in three sizes to meet a range of needs, from large facilities to small conference rooms.
Clients, such as Tiny Tots and Little Tykes Preschool and Child Care Center in West St. Paul, Minnesota, quickly noticed the improvement. “This year, one silver lining has been we’re reporting lower numbers linked to traditional germs and seasonal bugs,” said Assistant Director Kathy Darrow. “In part, it’s the purified air paired with other preventative precautions in place, such as mask wearing and limited exposure.”
Darrow added that staff members who suffer from asthma and allergies reported positive feedback regarding air quality. “They’re experiencing fewer respiratory symptoms and using their inhalers less frequently. Overall, the air throughout our schools is noticeably improved and fresher than before.”
In the Twin Cities, ISO-Aire systems have been installed at the Salvation Army Harbor Light facility in Minneapolis (18 units), 22 Royal Credit Union branches, numerous schools and places of worship, restaurants and fitness centers.
“Participants in our program overwhelmingly feel much safer since we added the ISO-Aire unit. So do I,” said Phil Martens, a trainer at G-Werx Fitness in south Minneapolis. “It was a significant investment, but worth it.”
Although Kevin grew up around the family business, which was founded by his grandfather in the 1950s, he didn’t join the company immediately after completing his leadership and management degree from Opus College of Business. His previous roles were in marketing and management with Cummins Power Generation and Horton. His father is the company president of Albers Mechanical Contractors.
“I knew I’d want to be a part of their legacy, and so I intentionally utilized my time at St. Thomas to broaden my learning and experiences,” said Kevin, who in 2019 became the company’s sales and marketing manager. That included expanding his perspective through liberal arts and general course requirements and studying abroad in Turkey during J-Term.
Kevin paid close attention to the real-world experiences his business professors and guest speakers discussed in class. “I would hear about the day to day from my father or grandfather, but when I began studying business at St. Thomas, I began to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for what it takes to create and sustain a successful business.”
As the nation continues to emerge from the pandemic, Kevin plans on expanding where ISO-Aire is installed in order to deter the spread of the coronavirus.