During his lifelong career, Thaddeus Alemao has donned hats of a newspaper deliveryman, salesman, investment banker and inventor in the US. Now, he is on a mission to eradicate mosquitoes in Goa, writes MICHAEL FISHER
65-year-old Thaddeus (Ted) Alemao has redefined the meaning of a self-made man, by first chasing the American dream and then finally ending up living the Goan dream.
His journey first began with unpromising circumstances. Thaddeus along with his family had left for America in 1986 at the invitation of his brother and sister settled there.
“The first job I got in the US was delivering newspapers and I would receive a lot of `thank-you tips’. I took up a regular job as a shoe salesman at a big department store. I left the department store for a credible position as store manager at the famous Cosmetic Plus store. I quit that for a bank teller’s job and grabbed it. The bank promoted me to sales, for which I had to do a course in investment banking that was sponsored by the New York Community Bank. In the evenings, I would change to a pair of Levis and pack burgers for customers at a McDonald’s fast food restaurant. So, approximately I would earn $4,000 a month from my three jobs – newspapers, banking, and McDonald’s. It totalled 18 hours of daily work. But I had a family to take care – a wife and two lovely kids. I did this for 12 years as a sole breadwinner,” recalls Thaddeus of his early struggles.
Living in North East USA is like living behind closed doors, says Ted. It’s cold in winter and hot in summer, where the doors and windows are always closed, and the cooking odours would permeate the whole house which was annoying. “I thought over it and voila! I invented the ‘Odour Absorbing Splatter Screen’. I sandwiched the activated carbon filter between wire mesh, and thus an odour absorbing splatter screen was created and duly patented. The carbon in the platter screen is automatically activated to absorbing odour and works on the process of absorption and desorption under heat when placed over a dish cooking. It turned out to be a moneymaker for me,” he reminisces.
Thaddeus who always harness the qualities of hard work, perseverance and most of all personal responsibilities, says, “My goal was to become the captain of my own destination.” Being a savvy business man, he filed a patent in the US in his name and produced 5,000 pieces which were sold on its own steam. “I received rave reviews from the local newspaper in Long Island,” he says while displaying the web page on his laptop.
“I was approached by a company agent who did a market survey on the splatter screen and its consumer demand. In fact, the splatter screen did exist and all I did was add value to it, and it turned out to be an invention. After about a year, I was called by the company with this affirmation: `We have a deal’. I signed a lifelong contract with them and earned $1 million for my family, of which I have invested nearly $200,000 in India, or rather in Goa for Mission Mosquitoes. I was always fascinated with Goa. In 2012, I came with a passion to give something back to Goa,” he mentions.
When queried about what Goa gave him, he replied, “It is my birth place where I always longed to be. In my many visits in Goa to rewind, my cousins would complain about mosquitoes from the septic tanks which was a never ending problem they were facing.”
When he was back in the US, Ted was intrigued by the bloodsucking insects in the villages of Goa. “This thought rankled in me as to how to solve this problem. I designed a mosquito trap and got it patented in the US. I named it ‘Muski Trap’. I returned to India with the design and manufactured Muski Trap in Bombay. This trap replaces the T-valve at the end of the pipe or the vent connected to the septic tank. Septic tanks are ideal habitats for mosquito breeding. With this contraption, the mosquitoes are trapped and only the gases and odour are released. The breeding mosquitoes and their larvae that are trapped in the septic tank are exterminated by using a WHO-approved biological insecticide. Now my mission is to eradicate mosquitoes in villages,” he points out.
He and his team of workers visit approximately 10 houses a day to eradicate mosquitoes in septic tanks in villages. “Since June 2013, I have treated over 6,000 houses, notifying the churches and sending a copy to the sarpanches. For hotels and resorts, we treat their STP systems. The biggest pollution maker is untreated grease generated from cooking. Another invention of mine is the ‘Biological Grease Cutter’. It breaks down FOG (fat, oil and grease) in the grease trap, thereby treating effluents flowing into the STP system of septic tanks. This results in very low COD and BOD and does not emanate foul smells,” he adds.
Ted’s other venture in India is making candles. “Candle making is not profitable for me but it is a legacy passed on from generations. My late dad would make candles the old-fashioned way and in the process would get burnt by molten wax, which he could bear but I couldn’t. As a kid I would sell my pop’s candles door to door. I was his salesman. For the love of our family traditional livelihood I continued to make candles with value addition such as mosquitoes repellent candles, designer and scented candles for hotels and resorts that are sold under the brand name ‘Antozino’, which is my dad’s name,” Ted informs.
The next stage of his mission (eradicating mosquitoes) is to treat stagnant water bodies with mosquito larvicide free of cost. He is working with the authorities to accomplish this. When he started in 2004, he had five workers, and today employs nine. His company ‘Bombay Innovative Products Private Ltd’ was incorporated in Mumbai in 2004 with a registered office in Sincrea Vaddo, Chinchinim.