Magical NeverWet Arrives in Stores

Magical NeverWet Arrives in Stores


Nearly two years ago, the developer of NeverWet was deluged with interest in the spray-on coating that repels water, mud, ice and other liquids.

The outpouring was touched off by a video accompanying an August 2011 story in this newspaper on the product, initially intended for industrial use.

The viral video, viewed 4.8 million times, demonstrated the silicon-based spray coating's near-magical abilities.

Viewers watched in amazement as NeverWet repelled chocolate syrup from white shoes and water off a cotton shirt.

That led to thousands of inquiries to NeverWet from people wanting to buy the product.

They were told, sorry, they'd just have to wait until a consumer version was ready.

But now, the wait is almost over.

In the next day or two the spray will be on shelves of Home Depot at Red Rose Commons as part of a national roll-out to Home Depot stores.

The transition from laboratory wonder to consumer product was made possible by a licensing agreement with Rust-Oleum.

NeverWet agreed to let Rust-Oleum manufacture and distribute the product in North America in return for a royalty payment for every can sold.

The amount of payment was not disclosed.

At Home Depot, Rust-Oleum NeverWet includes two spray cans — a base coat and a top coat — that can cover 10 to 15 square feet.

Retailing for $19.97, Rust-Oleum NeverWet will begin appearing over the next few weeks at stores other than Home Depot here and nationwide.

"This is a game changer," said Jim Stinner, vice president of marketing for Rust-Oleum. "Everyone is going to want to try it out."

Stinner declined to say where Rust-Oleum NeverWet is being made or how much is being produced.

The launch of Rust-Oleum NeverWet will include newspaper, magazine and television advertising, he said.

"This is certainly going to be one of the biggest products we've ever had," predicted Stinner.

Stinner said the product launch has generated more buzz than any new product he's seen in his 18 years with Rust-Oleum.

"The interest it is garnering is second-to-none," he said.

The interest is the result of Rust-Oleum NeverWet's remarkable performance. Here's how it works.

When water hits the coating's superhydrophobic barrier, it forms a nearly circular bead that either causes the liquid to shoot off the surface or never cling there in the first place.

Among other things, it can be used on metal, wood, masonry and aluminum as well as fabric, leather and canvas.

But the possible uses for Rust-Oleum NeverWet seem limited only by the imagination of the customer.

For instance, NeverWet officials showed a reporter this past week how it can be sprayed on the inside of a cardboard case of beer to make an impromptu ice chest.

The wow factor of NeverWet's product has never been the problem.

But until the agreement was reached with Rust-Oleum, the know-how to make NeverWet on a large scale and get it to a lot of consumers had been a sticking point.

"It is a huge deal," Daniel Hobson, NeverWet's chief executive officer, said of the licensing agreement.

Hobson said Rust-Oleum's marketing reach and manufacturing potential allows NeverWet to focus on developing and refining products without getting lost in the issues related to manufacturing and selling them.

"We look at ourselves as an innovation company, not as a manufacturer," Hobson said.

The Conestoga Valley Industrial Park company's first innovation began as its then-parent's solution to a basic, industrial problem.

About five years ago, Ross Technology Corp. needed a better way to reduce corrosion on the steel products it makes here.

When they couldn't find one, they decided to make something on their own.

But soon, the small group of scientists working on the anti-corrosive coating saw a lot of new possibilities for the nano-particle coating that kept things clean, dry and free of bacteria and ice.

The group became Ross Nanotechnology, a subsidiary of Ross Technology Corp.

Now, NeverWet, which has 15 employees, is an independent company in which Ross Technology Corp. has a minority ownership stake.

Though declining to disclose NeverWet's sales figures, Andrew Jones, the company's president, said "We're growing dramatically."

Originally, the company had expected to release a consumer product in early 2012, an event watched with great interest by people who had seen the early viral video.

While the long-awaited spray cans weren't fast in appearing, the company got its name on some store shelves in spring 2012 through NeverWet Clean and Dry toilet plungers, which were made for Rubbermaid.

Ross Technology continues to make the toilet plungers in a factory line that has about 20 employees.

In August 2012, NeverWet said it was considering selling it on their website, just to get it into consumer's hands.

However, Hobson said setting up the manufacturing for the toilet plungers reinforced the belief that the company was at its best when it was coming up with ideas, not manufacturing products or handling sales.

"When we thought about putting it out ourselves, we thought, 'This will drown us,' " Hobson said. "What we want to do is sell the juice — sell the magic juice."

Ultimately, a limited release was put on hold as the company waited for a nationwide debut through a new suitor: Rust-Oleum.

Hobson said NeverWet continues to pitch the product to a variety of industrial manufacturers as something they can use during their process, while also working to get the product on shelves around the world.

"We're not just sitting back and saying, 'We got Rust-Oleum,' " Hobson said.

He said the firm also is focused on making the product better.

While the current Rust-Oleum NeverWet leaves a frosty haze, Hobson said a transparent application will "absolutely" be among the future versions of a product he expects to become a staple in household garages everywhere.

"Ultimately we're licensing it so that we can be the WD-40 for the next 100 years," he said.

Posted 06/16/2013 in news