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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023

AEG Installs UV Disinfection System at Toyota Center to Fight Covid

An ice resurfacer, colloquially referred to as a Zamboni regardless of its brand, has long been the most visible method by which hockey teams maintain the cleanliness of their rinks. But on Dec. 1, Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc. launched a partnership with Lakewood, Colo.-based Puro Lighting to provide a new standard of protection and safety for players and staff at the Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo, the practice facility for National Hockey League franchise the Los Angeles Kings.

Puro Lighting’s two-year partnership, its first with an NHL franchise, makes the company the official disinfection lighting partner of the L.A. Kings as the franchise delivers on a commitment to disinfection and safety protocols for professional sports teams prompted by the pandemic.

“Whether it’s on or off the ice, the safety and health of our L.A. Kings players and staff remains our No. 1 priority,” Josh Veilleux, senior vice president of AEG Global Partnerships, said in a statement. “Partnering with a category leader like Puro Lighting and being able to leverage their cutting-edge technology, makes our facility that much more state of the art and helps us to follow through on this important commitment to our team in the best way possible.”

Along with Chief Operating Officer Webb Lawrence, Chief Executive Brian Stern co-founded Puro Lighting in 2019 to provide new disinfection solutions within the health care and athletics industries. Just a year later, Covid-related business interruptions gave the company multiple opportunities to adapt its services to the needs of a variety of industries.

Partnering in the earliest days of the pandemic with Violet Defense, an Orlando-based company that used patented technology involving ultraviolet light to disinfect “surfaces, air and everything in between,” Stern and Lawrence offered to disinfect buses and subways for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority in a deal to showcase Puro’s versatility and efficacy.

“What we focus on is basically having the most effective products available on the market with proven advocacy for these different types of applications,” Stern told the Business Journal.

Covid panic buying

Although Puro’s staff has grown from just seven employees to 20, Lawrence calculates that the company has grown by “a thousand-plus percent” since it started, exemplified by $6.6 million the company raised in Series A funding in 2020. Puro is setting its next financial goal for 2022 when the company hopes to raise $15 million during its Series B funding round.
Despite these numbers, Lawrence said Puro’s relatively small size presented a problem during the early days of the pandemic due to a lot of “panic buying,” which caused a welcome spike in sales that exceeded the company’s inventory, leading to a five-month backlog of orders as its partners’ manufacturing facilities struggled to reopen from Covid-related closures.

“Buyers came to us during the peak of the pandemic, and they needed anything — they didn’t care what it was,” he said. “They just had to have something that was going to help them combat Covid.”

L.A. Kings’ Head Equipment Manager Darren Granger explained that the team already had a number of protocols in place prior to making its agreement with Puro.
“On top of our nightly deep cleaning, we used Sani Sport room disinfecting and their machines for the equipment,” Granger said. “They are ozone-based disinfection. We also used surgically clean air units in a few rooms.”

He said that upwards of 10% of the team’s equipment budget now goes to sterilization protocols. Stern calculates that after being fully installed, Puro’s systems cost the company about $68 per day for their comprehensive disinfection cycles.

 “They’re very forward thinkers,” Lawrence said of the Kings organization. “They definitely are wanting to do everything they can to go above and beyond and protect their staff and their players.”

The Toyota Sports Performance Center uses three different UV disinfection product lines from Puro’s technological systems in a variety of high-traffic areas, including the team locker room, player’s lounge, restrooms, showers and weight room, as well as large spaces like the rink where the team practices.

The company’s Helo Fixture, powered by Violet Defense’s technology, is installed throughout the practice facility to deliver programmable high-intensity UV disinfection. Puro’s high-

performance Aurora UV Air Fan eliminates 99.976 % of airborne coronavirus risk with its UV-C purification system, according to independent testing. And the Whisper UV Air Fan, a compact commercial UV-C air purifier, is used to disinfect smaller areas throughout the facility.

More specifically, Puro’s Helo products are installed on walls or in the ceilings of spaces to pull air through a high-intensity full-spectrum UV chamber and then push it safely back out into the environment for continuous air and surface disinfection. They can be operated manually or scheduled through the company’s control system, which is designed to reduce the need for additional facility labor after they’ve been installed. 

‘A good model’

Until recently, Puro experienced a broader leveling off of companywide sales as what they call “Covid fatigue” set in, but Stern and Lawrence are confident their sales going forward will be much more substantial thanks not only to the availability of these technologies but the increased awareness that has come from partnerships like Puro’s with the Kings.
Puro also hopes to initiate a device lease program in the next year based on client feedback that allows it to charge per cycle or at a more basic lease rate based on a calculated number of disinfection cycles their technology might run over a specific period of time.

“Because this is newer technology, it can be expensive for an upfront cost,” Lawrence said. “So, we’ve been looking for ways to alleviate that big upfront cost and make it more accessible to some of the smaller businesses that might not be able to write that big check.”

Though AEG announced the partnership just over a month ago, Granger said the Kings are already satisfied with the equipment enough to consider using Puro’s systems elsewhere.  

“As we look forward to future renovations at our Kings practice facility, we’d like to expand into those new renovated areas, as well as additional conference room and office spaces,” he said.

Stern, meanwhile, suggested that the way AEG and the Kings have tackled their disinfection challenges is a good model for other facilities — and other industries — to adopt.

“The multitiered approach is really the best approach when you’re trying to disinfect a large facility like this,” Stern said. “As this technology continues to advance, it will become easier and easier to implement in different types of facilities — and become more of a technology that’s used day to day in a whole bunch of different spaces.”

Todd Gilchrist
Todd Gilchrist
Todd Gilchrist is a Los Angeles-based reporter and film critic with 20+ years of experience at dozens of print and online outlets, including Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly and Fangoria. An obsessive soundtrack collector, sneaker aficionado and member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Todd currently lives in Silverlake, California with his amazing wife Julie, two cats Beatrix and Biscuit, and several thousand books, vinyl records and Blu-rays.

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