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Since 1997, Triton Industries, LLC has covered the globe with innovative, original designs and developments in the industrial cleaning industry. Years of modifying and improving a variety of vacuum systems led to the development of today's Triton vacuum - a system that is recognized as truly premier within the industry. Triton vacuum systems are working on six continents, including industrial installations in the United States, the Arctic Circle, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, as well as being mentioned in many articles and receiving many awards. 

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Entrepreneur: Mike James

Entrepreneur: Mike James

By Emma James
Baton Rouge Business Report

Monday, October 4, 2010

Position: Founder/CEO

Company: Triton Industries

What they do: Design, manufacture and sell high-powered portable vacuums for the oil and gas industry

Revenue: $8 million

Next Goal: Expand their customer base

Mike James’ story serves as a cautionary tale.

James quit his job at a vacuum truck company with a vision and a tentative deal to produce one high-powered portable vacuum for a client in the petrochemical industry. He spent his time, energy and money on building the vacuum in a friend’s garage with scrap iron bought for 10 cents per pound. Three months later, the deal fell through.

Rather than waiting for the phone to ring, James took a proactive approach. He pitched the vacuum to prospective clients, followed up with companies he’d previously contacted and networked for new business.

“You can’t hurry along big operations,” he says. “That’s the hardest thing—not having control of the timeline. But just because you’re not in control of that doesn’t mean you can give up.”

James came to the realization that most companies were reluctant to try a new product, even if it meant an improvement on their current methods. As he sought new business for his vacuum, he was spurred by the belief that it was better in size and volume than the 70-foot by 13-foot vacuums used by the oil and gas industry.

The lesson for people bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, he says, is to have faith in your product and understand the early days are filled with lots of work with little payoff.

“I knew enough about the industry to know that [my product] was a good idea,” James says. “I literally could not sleep at night. I couldn’t quit thinking about it.”

James was just days away from filing for bankruptcy when he received a phone call from Trinidad requesting an order; he made $214 in his first year. Thirteen years later, Triton Industries has received international recognition for its equipment, which was used to help with the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Success notwithstanding, James still meets with potential clients who have a difficult time reconciling the product’s small size with its high power.

“That call saved everything,” he says. “It was that close to all being over. I guess I’d do it all again. I couldn’t give it away at the beginning just to get rid of it. But it’s been worth it. We’ve been very lucky.”

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