Frederick Douglas founded Cosmos Technologies Inc., an engineering consulting and wastewater treatment company, in 1998. The company initially provided environmental engineering and management services but over the years has expanded its offerings to include grading design and storm-water management, and building systems engineering. A major service area is site civil engineering and infrastructure design. This service requires the generation of design drawings in 3-D CAD or MicroStation. Cosmos has innovated this process so that any one change made in a design automatically updates all sequential modifications required in that drawing. The general practice in the industry is to make drawing modifications manually, which is far less efficient.Based in Pittsburgh, PA, with another location in Cleveland, OH. Cosmos has received several awards for its positive community impact, including creating job opportunities.
In May 2012, Douglas completed Tuck’s Building a High Performing Minority Business, a program that provides tools to help minority businesses advance their capabilities. We asked him about the role that innovation plays in his business’ success.
Why did you decide to start your own company?
I had worked as a chemical engineer for several corporations. This was a period of strong decline in manufacturing in the US, a period of corporate takeovers and downsizing. The company I worked for was taken over by another company. At this juncture, I decided to start Cosmos Technologies.
How large is it today in terms of sales and number of employees?
Ten full-time employees; sales $1.5 million.
Innovation clearly plays a large role in your company. Is it a dedicated division in your company or do you expect/encourage innovation to come from all divisions/employees?
All divisions/employees are encouraged to demonstrate innovation.
What measures do you take to encourage innovative ideas in your firm?
Innovation is encouraged through a number of measures. As an example, all employee goals require the demonstration of innovative ideas in the implementation of processes, methodologies, and technologies. The demonstration of an innovation mindset is given a significant weight in an employee’s review.
What innovative idea are you most proud of? How did it come about and what part does it play in your company today?
Cosmos engineers developed an innovative “environmentally friendly” wastewater-treatment catalytic process. The catalyst is a spent material which, in general, is discarded. The process is effective in removing organics and heavy metals from the wastewater. In a large number of cases, processes effective in removing organics from wastewater tend not to be effective in removing heavy metals.
The Cosmos process has proven effective in treating Marcellus shale frac wastewater, which is heavily contaminated with heavy metals as well as organics to levels greater than 90 percent.
Cosmos has filed a patent, the status is “patent pending.”
The company expects to receive full patent approval in the US by September 2014.
How important is innovation to the future of your company? Why?
Technology, markets, and the business environment are dynamic systems; these systems are changing/evolving at a fast rate. Adaption to these dynamic systems requires constant innovation in technology and business processes. It is for these reasons I embrace the innovation mindset and Cosmos employees are encouraged to be innovative.
Frederick Douglas is the Founder and President of Cosmos Technologies, Inc. based in Pittsburgh, PA
Douglas is an alumnus of our Minority Programs, 2012
Still accepting applications and scholarships
Join the Twitter conversation around Minority Business programs and news! #TuckMBE