In the past decade, Kolos has successfully pursued his own dream, building a “green” company with all-natural skin and oral care products, penetrating global markets and moving ahead with a major rollout to retail stores.
In the past year, H2Ocean was named one of the Top 50 Florida Companies to Watch by the Michigan-based Edward Lowe Foundation and received the Small Business of the Year Award from the Business Development Board of Martin County (BDB).
“Manufacturing products in an environmentally friendly, low impact way is our focus,” said Kolos, who cites the BDB’s assistance as playing an important role in “taking our business to the next level.” By engaging Enterprise Florida and the Office of the Governor, the BDB helped H2Ocean secure a certificate from the state’s Department of Health that was necessary for exporting its goods internationally.
A native of South Florida, Kolos enjoys fishing, surfing, and building saltwater aquariums. He thought about becoming a marine biologist, but became a sales representative for Australian Gold suntan lotion and built a regional distribution network. After the post 9/11 downturn, Kolos began thinking seriously about launching his own business.
“I knew that ocean water has healing qualities,” he said, “and one of the best remedies for a cold or sore throat is gargling with salt water.” Drawing on that knowledge, Kolos obtained several patents for a formula of sea salt, purified water and multiple trace elements and minerals. “That’s really what makes our products unique,” said Scott Stier, H2Ocean’s executive director of operations.
Since 2002, Kolos has turned those patents into an all-natural line of tattoo and piercing aftercare products, and built an independent global distribution network. He has expanded the company’s line into all-natural mouthwash and nasal sprays, and is looking at other potential products.
Four years ago, Kolos outgrew its location in Boynton Beach and moved to Stuart, a “small community that loves the ocean and a great home for us.” The company now has 30 employees in a 47,000-square-
Since moving to Stuart, the company’s sales have increased about 15 percent annually. H2Ocean’s products are sold in Canada, Mexico, Latin America, Europe, Israel, South Africa Australia, and other international markets, with a recent launch in Japan. The small business uses social media to promote its products and is planning to create an infomercial as well.
But the biggest opportunity will come from major U.S. mass market retailers, starting with Walgreens stores on the Treasure Coast. Since H2Ocean’s products have no active ingredients, they are not considered drugs, so they do not need a doctor’s prescription or Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Kolos expects to add another 15-20 employees this year to handle the increased business. If more chains pick up the H2Ocean line, the company may be flooded with new orders. As he said, “We’re looking forward to the next stage in our journey.”
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