Rocky ice man's cool idea gets global lift-off
LAST year Rockhampton businessman Ben Rogers was in a hole.
He'd just lost his major industrial customer and local service station operators told him they wanted to stop using his services.
The future looked bleak for the man who had come to the aid of many across the region in the aftermath of Cyclone Marcia with his dry ice.
But it is often how we respond in our darkest times that defines us.
He might have been on the floor, but Ben's resolve was strengthened to develop a synthetic dry ice product that was environmentally friendly.
Last week, the father-of-three's new EcoSlice invention was awarded the NSW Green Globe Award for environmental innovation and sustainability.
His new creation is about to be introduced on Virgin Airlines' domestic flights from November 1, with an international flight rollout scheduled mid next-year.
And he's fielding calls from interested parties across America, Europe and Asia.
What Ben created in the latter part of 2016 and into 2017 was a product that replicated dry ice with fewer carbon emissions and greater longevity.
It is environmentally friendly with no Co2 dangerous goods classification and independent tests show it out-performs dry ice on all test markers.
Ben trialled the product with prospective clients, including the world's leading airline caterer Swiss-based Gate Gourmet which delivers in-flight meals to more than 300 airlines globally.
From there the Virgin deal took flight.
Importantly, Ben's creation is much safer in confined spaces, such as a commercial plane.
"I'm blown away, still in a bit of shock,” Ben said yesterday as he reflected on a roller coaster period.
"To be honest it's been a tough ride. A normal person would have walked away, but I knew what I had and wanted to succeed.”
Ben began his company, CQ Dry Ice Solutions, from his Glendale home in 2004 before expanding to Stanley St in 2007.
He ventured into package dry ice for recreational use from refrigerated access at selected service stations across the Central Queensland region, before things took a turn south.
Now as managing director of EcoSlice there's a world of opportunity on the horizon.
After the Australian rollout he's off to the US and Honk Kong and he's expecting his two-man operation will grow quickly.
While Ben now spends plenty of his business time in Brisbane, he says he and his family will always call Rocky home.
Ben said his greatest disappointment was that his biggest supporter and father-in-law Ron Deeley wasn't there to see his award.
Ron died in a traffic accident west of Emerald in August.