Ross Jordan and his partners think they’re onto something big.
Their company, Wichita-based Ocianna International, is about to start building prototypes of a powerful self-burying marine anchor.
The anchor, which is attached to a cable, is designed to propel itself to the seafloor at some speed, seal itself on the floor and then pump out sand and mud to bury itself. Once buried, it will extend arms out to hold its position firm. It can reverse this process to bring itself back up.
“Think of it as a soda straw that drills itself into seafloor,” Jordan said.
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There are two sizes of anchors at this point, one the size of a desk chair and one the size of a school bus, Jordan said.
Jordan said the market for the small one is luxury yachts, while the large one is aimed at off-shore oil and gas facilities, off-shore wind turbines and oil tankers.
Jordan conceived the idea and developed it over eight years. Partner Kyle Asplund, who joined Jordan in 2010, engineered it. And they are in the process of signing an agreement with Lonnie Martin, owner of Martin Machine and Welding of Halstead.
So far they have funded it themselves, with help last year from a nearly $50,000 federal grant through Wichita State University. Ocianna International has also recently been accepted by the Houston Technology Center as an energy client. The center links promising companies, particularly energy-related companies, with expertise and financing.
Martin agreed to join Jordan and Asplund and carry the cost of refining the design and building full-size prototypes. Martin will come on as equity partner in the company.
Martin said he was pretty skeptical at first.
He sees a lot of inventors with lame ideas. His shop specializes in custom machining and manufacturing. One of his businesses is building AR15 rifles from scratch under the brand Dirty Martin Arms.
Martin said Harvey County’s economic development director, Mickey Fornaro-Dean, prevailed on him to meet with Jordan.
So Martin sat down with Jordan across a table – a table he had built that includes a clock in it – and pointedly gave him 10 minutes to make his pitch.
And then another 10 minutes. And another.
“I just let it keep going, “ he said. “I thought, ‘You are on to something.’ Eventually, I said, ‘Let me show you my plant and where I make machines.’ ”
Martin said a prototype should be ready by October to demonstrate to the U.S. Navy.
Later this year, they will start searching for the millions of dollars in private funding they’ll need to turn a viable product into a viable company.
They expect full production to begin next year.