Why He’s Top 40: He’s making positive environmental and health impacts on the construction and oil industries.
When Troy Hawes woke up nearly a week after a competitive rugby accident broke his neck, he was faced with three back-to-back surgeries and the challenge of relearning to walk. The physical difference changed him mentally, in an unusual way – he wanted to embrace more experiences and risks.
At the time, in 2002, he was working for a company that produced chemicals for the oil industry, but he dreamed of someday making a positive impact. In the following years, he met his wife, started a family and, in 2011, took the first steps towards creating a legacy by forming a company with his friend and former rugby team member, Top 40 alumnus Darren Cunningham.
Their business, HydraChem, sells organic chemicals to the oil and construction industries, using soybean, coconut and sugar cane to remove concrete and bitumen rather than harsh chemicals that have been the go-to products for years. “We’re working on changing over big companies to the point where they restructure the way they are doing things,” he explains.
Hawes also wants to ensure individual people are using products that won’t negatively impact their health. When Cunningham’s mom, May, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, that idea really hit home. “She is a second mom to me,” explained Hawes, “I decided to do something.”
Using knowledge gleaned from growing up on the East Coast, Hawes and his wife, Lauren, host lobster bake events for as many as 175 people with all proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association. Last year, his team raised $96,000, with the provincial government matching that amount.
Despite occasional challenges convincing people who have never used organic products of the efficacy of his compounds, Hawes is optimistic. He’s as convinced organic chemicals will gain traction in coming years as he is that Alzheimer’s will soon be curable.