"My family has always been entrepreneurial," Coulson said. "My parents owned their own business and we grew up with a small business. The thought process was go to school, get a good education, get a good job where you can continue to learn, but eventually look at owning your own company. I have four siblings and almost all of us ran with that philosophy and owned our own business in one way or the other. I was always inspired to own my own business, but I really needed to find a product I could believe in. You can't sell something you don't really believe in."
Eldon James began in the automotive/industrial arena and has since expanded into three divisions—EJ Automotive/Industrial, EJ BioMed and EJ Beverage. In each, Coulson said there is a movement away from PVC tubing.
"We have to prove ourselves in each market," Coulson said. "We have to find out what's important in each market to test for and come back with results that make sense to them, that are present in a way they can accept. We have to work pretty hard to learn each of those markets and discover the challenges we can help problem solve, and then we go after it."
For instance, the Healthier Hospitals Initiative—originally founded by 12 of the largest health systems in the U.S., with a combined network of more than 500 hospitals and more than $20 billion in purchasing power—has pledged to reduce the amount of PVC sourced from their suppliers.
EJ's choice to focus on PVC alternatives also helped it improve efficiency for its medical OEM suppliers. Coulson said the firm developed a single-barbed fitting in conjunction with its PE or TPE tubing, allowing the tube's shelf life to increase and eliminate the need for an adhesive. Eldon James' technology pushes into the inside diameter of the tubing and, thanks to a barb, it can hold with better pull-off strength and pressure capability than an adhesive.
The result is a leaner manufacturing process for the OEM and a tube with superior pull-off strength and pressure capability compared to an adhesive.
"What we wanted to do when we became a tubing manufacturer was differentiate ourselves and not be a 'me too' tubing company and make PVC tubing," Coulson said. "We wanted to offer customers an alternative to PVC mainly because PVC has been linked to causing endocrine problems for humans and all kinds of health challenges. Hospitals have been asking their manufacturers to supply them products that are PVC-free."
On the beverage front, Coulson said PVC is the weakest link in beverage disposing. EJ's antimicrobial tubing inhibits the top four beer-spoiling bacteria. When combined with EJ's PVC-free tubing, it found its niche within the craft brewing sector.