Drew Westervelt's path to pro lacrosse was slicked with sweat and puke and blood and spit.
"You know how it is when you're playing sports," he said. "You leave a lot out there."
So when the 27-year-old Bel Air native and UMBC graduate felt an entrepreneurial tug in 2009, he immediately thought about developing a business cleaning sports facilities. When he went to an uncle seeking financing, he was given one condition: Go see Doug Bradford and Doug McGettigan. The two had been running a cleaning business in Maryland for 25 years.
"We saw a little bit of a chance to innovate," Bradford said of Westervelt's inquiry. "And that's what you find: Business can sort of take you on a path you didn't expect."
The trio ended up producing and marketing two new product lines. The first, OdorBalance, removes the soaked-in stench of athletic equipment familiar to parents of lacrosse, hockey and football players everywhere. But it also prevents the smell from returning, according to Westervelt.
Later this year, the three hope to push BactiBarrier products to market. The company says it has developed a series of EPA-approved cleaners and surface treatments that will set a new standard in the prevention of mold, fungi, algae and bacteria. They have used the technology locally but are still working to find a partner to bottle and distribute the products. They hope to make them available in the fourth quarter.
The owners would not discuss details of the products' development, nor would they disclose revenue figures.
Westervelt developed OdorBalance almost by accident. As the company worked to develop the BactiBarrier technology — which the principals say relies on nanotechnology that attracts and then kills microbes — Westervelt decided to apply some of the cleaner to his lacrosse gear.
A graduate of Bel Air's John Carroll School, Westervelt has played six years of professional lacrosse, with Major League Lacrosse outdoors and the National Lacrosse League indoors. He's also been a member of Team USA.
Before the 2012 season, Westervelt was traded by the Denver Outlaws to the Chesapeake Bayhawks lacrosse team, which in August won an MLL championship.
His gear is in constant use.
"So I put this stuff on there, and the smell was gone," Westervelt said. "I went and played again, and it didn't come back. We've all used sprays in the past and it's just covering up the stink. This was something totally different, and I knew we had a new use for what we were doing."
OdorBalance products include a laundry detergent meant to be used on shirts, socks and other machine-washable gear; two concentrates — one that cleans and one that protects — and a spray to be used on new equipment.
The products have been on the market for six months and are carried by about 100 retailers, most of them specialty or pro shops in the Baltimore area.
After studying economics in college, Westervelt worked as a project manager, most recently for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., a job he left in April.
Few professional lacrosse players make a living from the game, but Westervelt is part of the way there. He's sponsored by Warrior and also works at lacrosse camps and clinics. He plans to play for as long as he can before possibly moving into coaching.
While on the road for games, he visits lacrosse facilities, ice rinks and gyms to market his odor-quelling products.
"OdorBalance is about feeding my business side, and I found something I really believe in," the Canton resident said. He hopes to move bottling of the products to a Baltimore facility soon.
Bradford and McGettigan began their business by cleaning restaurants, homes and offices. They met when Bradford owned a restaurant and McGettigan, a health inspector, paid a visit. They formed the partnership without much capital.
"For a while, it was just us in a van going to clean things," McGettigan said.
They eventually specialized in larger commercial buildings and formed Eco Interior Maintenance, which they run today out of the same Arnold office that houses the new, separate companies.
BactiBarrier is a natural evolution of the work they've done so far, Bradford said. They hope it will be embraced and used in hospitals, public transportation stations and stadiums — and possibly applied to clothing before it goes on sale.
"A lot of this had to do with what our clients have been asking for," Bradford said. "They want something that is environmentally friendly, that gets the surface clean and that uses technology to keep it that way."