Greg Wolfenden, Principal CEO, AMPC Global chats to Damien Connelly
Could we commence this interview with a brief history of your career to date?
My background started in the jewelry industry, where I gained knowledge about silver and its healing properties. People don’t think about how and why silverware was developed. Silver is naturally antibacterial. The reason utensils were made of silver was because people did not have hot water to sterilize their utensils. Settlers would put silver coins in their milk to stop their milk from spoiling because of lack of refrigeration. History dates back to Aristotle who documented the first use of silver and its healing properties.
As Vice President of Sales for my family’s company Michael Anthony Jewellers which was later bought by Berkshire Hathaway, (a Warren Buffet company), I would educate buyers and consumers about silver jewelry. I later was offered a position at Waterford Wedgewood as General Manager, it was there that I was educated on finance and accounting while running a 500-million-dollar company. After 3 years of running Waterford Crystal, I found myself working 80 hours a week and traveling 4 days a week. As my children were growing up without a dad, I decided to step back and start my own company. Silvermoon Creations was my next step in my career.
Silvermoon Creations’ main business is in the costume jewelry and accessory business. We supply major retailers from Meijer to Walmart and specialty retailers such as Hot Topic and Spencer Gifts to name a few. I opened another company in China called Golden Moon to support the USA business. I am happy to say the group of my companies and my partner’s Quality Gold of Cincinnati company are doing over 200 million in sales annually.
What was your original inspiration to develop playing cards enhanced with antimicrobial product protection, and what has it entailed?
Interesting question. It all started from a home poker game. Our once-a-month gathering of about 25 players dwindled down to only 6 players. Upon asking the question “where is everyone?”, many said no one wanted to catch the flu and everyone was staying home. Two days later, I went to a local poker room and they were experiencing the same situation. I asked the dealer “where is everyone?”, and he said it was slow since the flu was going around. I went online and tried to buy antimicrobial-treated playing cards for my home games, but no one produced them. I couldn’t believe it – and so AMPC Global was born.
What has been involved in your research and development of these bacteria-resistant playing cards?
I started this project 2 years ago. I worked with several antimicrobial companies, each promising results. However, as with many new ideas, there were several set-backs and disappointments. The testing process is very intensive and expensive - we invested over $100K in testing fees alone. We finally solved our QA issues by working with Microban International, the global leader in antimicrobial product protection. Microban’s team of experienced scientists developed an effective antimicrobial treatment that is added to the playing cards at the stage of manufacture. This treatment is registered with the EPA and notified with the BPR as safe to use.
Can you explain what Microban antimicrobial technology is and how it works to enhance Medicus playing cards?
Microban® antimicrobial technology is built-in product protection that works continuously to inhibit the growth of spoiling bacteria on the surface of a product. Unlike disinfectants, Microban® technology remains active 24/7 and for the expected lifetime of the treated product.
Global biocidal regulations stipulate what we can and cannot say about Medicus playing cards in specific territories around the world. AMPC Global are fully aware of these restrictions and we always utilise the appropriate claims language when marketing our antimicrobial-treated products. In Europe, we can openly talk about the cards and their ability to resist the growth of Salmonella enterica, E. coli, and S. aureus by up to 99.9%. In the US, we refer to the cards as being resistant to the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria. This ensures our compliance with legislation worldwide.
In terms of how it works, Microban® is added to Medicus playing cards at the stage of manufacture. The technology penetrates the cell wall of any contaminating bacteria and inhibits their ability to grow and reproduce. The result is a playing card that stays cleaner, fresher and looking better for longer. Not only does antimicrobial technology enhance the quality of the cards, but it also minimizes the risk of cross contamination and delivers peace of mind for the people that use them.
Is Microban antimicrobial technology safe to humans and the environment?
Yes. Microban® antimicrobial technologies have undergone extensive independent laboratory testing and have a long history of safe use. The biocidal active components of the Microban® antimicrobial additives utilised by AMPC Global are notified with the EU Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) No 528/2012 and are registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). After more than 35 years of use in numerous consumer, commercial and healthcare applications around the world, there has been no evidence that Microban® antimicrobial technologies cause the development of resistant strains of bacteria. Unlike antibiotics, Microban® antimicrobial technologies have multiple modes of action, making it harder for bacteria to become resistant to its effects.
Do your playing cards work like other cards in shufflers and shoes?
We have tested over 40 types of shufflers and at no point have we experienced any issues. Our cards can be produced in the same shape, weight and thickness as casino grade cards, or to the specific requirements of our clients.
How long does the antimicrobial treatment you have applied to the playing cards last for?
The antimicrobial treatment lasts for the expected lifetime of the playing card. It will not wash off or leech out.
‘Why fix something that isn’t broken’ is a popular saying and in fairness the Casino industry has been guilty of falling into that trap. So, have you found Casinos to be interested enough to make the change?
We officially opened on June 1st this year and have already started working with several casinos, a TV network, and major retailers. The demand is there. The biggest obstacle I see in the casino industry is in promoting the benefits of using our cards. While your statement may be true about casinos not wanting to change, why would they not want to use playing cards that stay cleaner longer? Not only do Medicus playing cards resist the growth of harmful bacteria, but they also offer added protection for your reputation. The rise in antibiotic-resistance means we all have a responsibility to help reduce the presence of harmful bacteria. Casinos understand this and are taking steps to be proactive. They have already chosen to incorporate antimicrobial-treated products into their environments, including pagers and dispensers. Casinos will see the benefits.
If you gain the interest, will the price of your cards increase significantly?
The technology adds about .25 cents to the deck of cards. We can also work with existing card suppliers but prefer to work with our own factory.
Can the application be also applied to casino chips and dice?
Yes, but several patents would have to be challenged. Microban® is used to protect thousands of different products around the world including sportswear, kitchen utensils, and even building materials. That’s why we entered into an exclusive partnership agreement with Microban® for playing cards.
Are Medicus playing cards featuring antimicrobial product protection better for the environment?
Yes. The technology activity inhibits the growth of degrading bacteria on the surface of the playing cards, meaning they benefit from an increased shelf-life. Antimicrobial technology also helps the cards to retain their aesthetic properties for longer. As a result, the cards are less likely to be prematurely disposed of, presenting sustainability and environmental benefits.
Disclaimer AMPC Global products featuring Microban® antimicrobial technology are sold worldwide. Due to regulatory differences, not all of the claims information provided in this article is valid in all countries or regions. AMPC Global products enhanced with Microban® antimicrobial technology may only be marketed, sold and used in conformity with official regulations, including restrictions and advertising claims pertaining to the specific country/region where the product is being marketed, sold and used. For more information, please contact AMPC Global directly. Microban® antimicrobial technology is not designed to protect users from disease-causing microorganisms and is not a substitute for normal cleaning practices