In 2010, while painting the cafeteria of their children’s school, the thought surfaced — no pun intended.
Being witness to a slip and fall incident at their church, Ursini and Doucette were determined to find a way to make it work.
“Maybe there is a way we can warn people as they are walking so they will somehow see the spill and not walk in it,” Doucette remembers. “If I can tell you where the water is, maybe people will walk around it.” The result: no slip and fall.
Ursini thought, “There has to be a way to make the water change color, so the spill becomes apparent.”
They decided to partner on the idea and find a chemist.
“I knew he would be the driver,” observed Ursini, commenting about Doucette when they initially shook on the deal. How right he was.
They found a paint chemist in town, but this expert was unable to make the water transform to a visible color. This aspect was critical, since having a color appear after a spill would clearly define where not to walk.
So, Doucette tried his best “Breaking Bad” routine, found a lab coat, and with only his college chemistry class as a starting point, turned his basement into a lab.
“We tried everything. We discovered that you should never use anything with ethyl alcohol combined with floor polish…it will burn. There were hundreds of other things not to do.”
What they needed was the elusive perfect PH balance in the formula of the wax to reap their desired results.
Their challenge was when the product was used, it had to be everything the maintenance team normally does when mopping and waxing a floor.
“Our floor safety coating had to be just as easy to use as any of the other products they had been working with,” claimed Doucette.
While they incorporated in 2013, the team still had to tweak the product for 18 months.
They took it back to a real chemist.
“There is no way this is going to work,” the chemist proclaimed.
That alone riled Doucette. ”Don’t tell me I can’t do something, it just motivates me even more to prove you wrong.” Doucette took out the tile and proceeded to douse it with water.
Watching it turn red, the chemist had a change of heart.
Back to the lab they went, conducting experiments for the next 18 months. Failure is an everyday occurrence in chemistry, which Doucette and Ursini quickly learned and endured.
They ended up testing 90 formulas at Louisville’s Saint Andrew Academy cafeteria. It became the home of the “official” test site of Red Alert Wax