An environmentally sound business
Through his company, Second Earth, Doug Frain ’91 created an innovative physical water treatment system that is installed on the university’s cooling towers.
By Kaitlin Dunn ’16
More than 20 years after he graduated, Doug Frain ’91 is still very much a part of Elon, and that’s not just a figure of speech.
Frain’s company, Second Earth, created an innovative physical water treatment system called WRAP™ (Water Reclamation and Asset Protection), which is installed on the university’s cooling towers. Frain, a marketing major who worked in sales for 13 years before starting his own business five years ago in Greensboro, N.C., says Second Earth’s WRAP technology helps protect the environment by reducing electricity usage and eliminating the need for toxic chemicals in cooling towers and steam boilers. It also delivers cost savings through an 80 percent reduction in water consumption. “We saw the opportunity to offer Elon a sustainable solution that is a real win-win for both the university and the environment,” Frain says. “I have always been passionate about the environment and love being a business owner, and today I get to do both.”
Elon is the first client Second Earth ever served. Four years later, the company still has a successful partnership with the university. Brian Chandler, HVACR supervisor in Elon’s Physical Plant, has been so impressed with the system that he wrote a letter recommending the product. The system works more effectively and more consistently than chemical treatments, and Chandler says it has not only protected the university’s equipment, but also reduced its operating cost.
While Second Earth is a fairly small company with only five core members, Frain hopes to expand soon, including hiring interns. He says he would love to partner with Elon and its internship program. “Most people are committed to building green, but it’s really rare that you see people taking it to the next level with sustainable maintenance the way that Elon has,” Frain says.
Right now the focus of the company is physical water treatment, but the next phase will include centrifugal filtration and water harvesting. Frain says business is booming as the company continues to expand to clients across the United States and beyond. The product has already been installed in South America, and there is a strong interest in Europe and the Middle East. The company’s ultimate goal is to eliminate the need to replace water loss due to evaporation or leaks. “As water and chemical prices continue to increase, our value proposition becomes more and more attractive,” Frain says. “We believe the sky is the limit.”