Lorri White, Co-Founder

Through hard work and passion, Lorri White, co-founder of Keika Ventures, has gone from a curious small-town girl to a global entrepreneur, seeking to help people around the world facilitate their environmental testing projects. 

“We help them get their sampling projects done in a quicker and more streamlined fashion,” White said. 

Hailing from the southeast corner of Indiana, White lived in Osgood, Indiana, with one stoplight, a town population of 1,000, and a high school graduating class of 50 students. White’s family’s national claim to fame was the Oscar nominee “Hoosiers” film, which was loosely based on the story of the Milan High School team that won the 1954 state championship. White’s uncle played on the 1954 team. 

“It was a great way to grow up. We knew what our boundaries were, and if you were home before it was dark, pretty much, we could just go do whatever,” she said. 

During her time at home, she helped on the family farms and at her grandparents’ gravel and limestone hauling business where she realized she wanted to have her own business someday. She also fostered a love for science, which led her to Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, where she majored in chemistry, and got the small classroom and big football school setting.  

Before starting Keika Ventures, White sought to pursue a Ph.D., which brought her to the University of North Carolina. After a year of chemistry-related research, White realized that research was not her passion. Instead of pursuing a career in open-ended research, White decided that project-driven deadlines were more in line with her interests. 

“But I had no plan,” White reflected. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just figured it out along the way by trying things and seeing what I like to do and then continue on that line.”

So, White started working at a lab that focused on environment testing of air, water, and soil for dioxin. There she met Allyson Porter, who ended up helping White co-found Keika Ventures. 

After some time, the lab they were working at was struggling and didn’t seem like a viable option for the future. Forced to plan their next move, the pair began to brainstorm and began Environmental Connections, the first iteration of Keika Ventures. 

“It was in the early days before the internet was really big, that we’d be an aggregator of like environmental services, connecting people who wanted various things from various companies in local services and sort of bundling that all together and coordinating it for them,” White said. 

In less than 3 years, the company managed to get $20 million in venture capital. After bringing in venture funding,  the company, during the “dot com boom” saw a name change, boom in clientele, and growth of employees. But with the boom came the bust, and the company began to lose footing with what White calls the “legacy clients.” 

These clients were people who wanted to continue their business the traditional way through emails, phone orders, and purchase orders; something the investors, insistent on using portals and websites, tried to diminish. 

White and Porter realized they knew the trick of the trade, having built environmental connections for years and had clients who were eager to continue business with them. Keika Ventures was officially born.

After starting Environmental Connections, White and Porter met Woody Taylor who soon became part owner of the company. White and Porter, rich in business skills but unfamiliar with website building, were looking to create a website but couldn’t afford to contract a website builder. Luckily, the pair and Taylor bartered a deal in which Taylor, familiar with website building, would build a website in exchange for a part ownership of Environmental Connections. 

“When we started with Environmental Connections with the three of us, we’re doing what we do now just on a bigger scale now, because we are selling products and analytical and online training,” she said. 

Since then, White has expanded her small-town horizons to aid clients from Thailand, Kenya, and Israel to Columbia, Chile, and Ecuador. 

“I feel like [working with Keika] has expanded my global awareness. In a greater sense, connecting with the world, especially through COVID. You know… with all the problems in the world, you realize that people are more alike than they are different, no matter what religion, or what color or what sexuality or whatever they are. There are more commonalities if you get to know people,” she said. 

White feels that people need that awareness and connection to different people in different places to best help them in projects crucial to their industries. Without this sense of global teamwork, neither end can obtain what they need. 

To White, Keika Ventures, and her work, functions as a fundamental tool to many clients and countries who may not have the easiest means to run tests locally. Keika Ventures provides the infrastructure and connections to get these crucial jobs done efficiently and reliably. 

“Today, somebody emailed me from Mexico about mushrooms growing out of a wall and [wanted] to test them,” she said. “We get these interesting things to try and solve. So, it’s never boring, it’s not the same thing all the time. You’re challenged. You’re using your mind to try and think ‘oh, how can we do this? What can be done to help them solve this problem?’” 

On top of odd and interesting challenges, White values flexibility and creativity, striving to incorporate both aspects into the Keika Ventures workspace. 

There’s a lot of room to do what you want to do. If there’s something that you really want to do or have an idea that you think is going to help the business or grow a certain product line… you can do it,” she shared.

Many children say they want to be doctors or firemen when they grow up, setting upon their lives with an end-goal career in mind. A handful, like White, are unsure but manage to take one step at a time to find where they can shed their light best. Hard work, perseverance, and curiosity can take people through incredible places they did not expect. 

“I would like to think that when I leave this world, that I’ve left it a better place.”

April W., U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

It’s the holiday season, time to enjoy friends and family, honor our traditions and give thanks. November means we honor our veterans and their service to our great nation. We are thankful for our Marine Corps veteran April W. April leveraged her military logistics training to secure a role at Keika Ventures.  Her experiences abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan make any challenge she faces in our Garner warehouse  small in comparison.  Welcome home April, thanks for your service and for being on the KV Team.  Please enjoy this profile written by Noelia Arteaga, a sophomore journalism student at Northeastern University, of April as she shares some of the stories behind her grit and can-do attitude. 

——-

“After the military, I was seeking employment that has meaning. I wanted more than just a job. I can’t speak for all vets, some miss the camaraderie and mission. Others may be seeking redemption or a need to balance this cosmic karma for following orders they didn’t always agree with. I don’t know. All I can say is any meaningful work, if you can find it, is a four leaf clover,” said April during a break from preparing shipments in Keika Ventures’ Garner, NC warehouse. She joined Keika Ventures in July 2019. It was a different world then. Just about the time she learned the job and got into an operating rhythm, a global pandemic changed everything.

“You have to laugh in bad times,” April said, sitting in her apartment where she lives with her 16-year-old son, Hayden. “I’ve always laughed the most in the worst times… right now, society refuses to laugh. This is the time when we need that the most.”

April is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. As a sergeant in the Corps, she specialized in logistics with supervisory skills during her seven month deployment in Iraq. 

April enlisted at 17, but because she had not finished high school, she was put in what is called the delayed enlistment program. During this time, she had to take all the classes she would have taken in high school, obtain elective credits by working at a flower shop, and receive P.E. credits through her recruiter, which was more demanding than a traditional P.E. class. But that didn’t phase her.

“I ended up graduating a couple months earlier than my class,” April said with a smile.

Before getting “sucked” into military life, as April describes it, she aspired to become a novelist and investigative journalist. However, to “get the hell out of Oregon,” enlisting seemed like her best option.  

“I grew up poor. I don’t want to say ‘poor’ because, since leaving Oregon, I’ve seen true poverty. But I was just living a dead-end kind of life,” she reflected. 

Like many veterans, April had trouble landing a job upon returning, leading her to opt for the only option she had as a contractor in Afghanistan. April’s story highlights some of the challenges veterans face amidst transitioning back home.   

“When I first got back, my family really hated it because they thought that when I got back, some invisible spirit was going to envelop me, and I was going to turn back to who I was before [I left for deployment]. Which to me is bizarre.”

Her confusion was not unwarranted; she questioned how a person could witness all that happens in a warzone and not be affected by it all. 

“Sometimes they act like they feel sorry for me. And I hate that because I hate the feeling of people feeling sorry for me.” 

In the military, April obtained powerful and eye-opening insights that everyone can learn from. She reminisced about an old roommate who was a scout sniper who witnessed some horrible events. Her roommate, confiding in April, explained he was torn up by what happened, using alcohol to cope. He asked April if it was right to be that torn up.

“Think about it: if you went and did some of the stuff they did and you came back the same way, not changing a bit, not bothered at all, I would kind of distance myself from that person,” she said. “He never thought about it like that.” 

April compared it to a person changing from the way they acted as a teenager to the way they act when they are 30. People always change which is healthy, April mused.

With life challenges, coping mechanisms can take over. However, April believes there are right and wrong ways to take on life. 

“There’s a lot of ways for people to react. It depends on what they went through. It also depends on how they were raised. Some people were raised that reacting at all isn’t okay,” she said. 

This circles back to April’s emphasis on laughter. 

“I remember being in Iraq and we were on a convoy at night. The driver got lost, and the convoy commander got pissed so they started arguing. It got so bad that the convoy commander stopped the truck in the middle of the desert. There were no towns, it was in the middle of the night in the middle of the desert. [The convoy commander] got out, and they argued in front of the humvee.”

“This isn’t very smart…if there’s some suspicious [thing] in the road in front of you, you can’t see it. You know how people get that gut feeling [of something could go wrong]? I didn’t really get a gut feeling which is why I knew that wasn’t my time. So I just started laughing and the rest of [the people on the humvee] started laughing too.”

She chuckled to herself and continued reminiscing. “So, we’re just like ‘okay, like when is it going to come?’ When we’re like ‘this is our time right? Should we do the Lord’s prayer?’ So, we just started laughing. Real hard. Just like [making fun of] those guys.”

Eventually, April and everyone in the humvee safely found their way to their destination. 

“You must laugh. Take life one disaster at a time.”

Of course, now April is part of a team with a real world mission, the kind of meaningful work vets are looking for – the sort of job she once said you have to “get lucky” to find.

We are helping people clean up their air and water and shipping environmental testing equipment all over the world.  We provide safety training for thousands of military and civilian clients. Keika is a mission first, people-always kind of team. The similarities to her military service are not lost on April.

“This [mission] feels pretty important. Especially during these crazy times. The pandemic makes our jobs very challenging, but I am on a great team and this group is a source of strength. We come together to get things done.”

Silver Bells and Silver Linings

The 2021 headlines sent us all looking for silver linings.  Infections, insurrections, inflation and internet fueled memes were enough to make us look elsewhere to count our blessings.  Keika continued our social distancing plans through 2021 so we missed giving Allyson a proper retirement party, but celebrated her long planned transition to Director Emeritus status.  We still miss her wisdom and energy every day.  We celebrated new talent in the company!  Welcome aboard Keith and Emma.  Our famous Keika Lunches are still suspended but we stepped up our video meetings.  We asked our eduwhere clients to help us accelerate our sustainability goals and switch to paperless electronic download.  The response was fantastic and we now have over 90% of our enterprise training clients going GREEN.  We celebrated new business in all our divisions and across the globe, including new clients in Bolivia, Trinidad, Columbia, Mexico, Vietnam, Israel, Ghana and Papua New Guinea.  And we continue to train clients in every state of the Union including a new record number in Arizona. 

On behalf of all of us at Keika Ventures thanks for an incredible 2021.  Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year.

With gratitude for these and many other silver linings we are planting trees to honor our clients, vendors and employees.  This year KV planted 2,000 trees through our continued sponsorship of OneTreePlanted.org

Thanks again for being a Keika Ventures stakeholder.  Here’s wishing that 2022 is filled with happiness, prosperity and good health.

Be Well!

KV Jedi Council

2,000 Trees!!

RCRA Notification Deadline

Here is an important reminder for Hazardous Waste Generators: beginning on September 1, 2021 (just a week away!), all Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) must “re-notify the Environmental Protection Agency of their hazardous waste activities every four years”. This means that some Generators, who have not previously been required to re-notify the EPA of their activities, are now required to do so on a 4 year schedule.

The September 1 date is the deadline for SQGs to re-notify the EPA of their hazardous waste activities, so any SQGs who have not submitted their re-notifications should do so immediately. The purpose of this re-notification process is to ensure that the EPA has up-to-date information on hazardous waste generators, and is not relying on potentially old, incorrect data.

If you would like more information, as well as resources and guidance on how to submit the form, follow this link to the EPA’s webpage about the rule: https://www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/re-notification-requirement-small-quantity-generators

Planting 1,000 Trees for the Future

2020 has been a difficult year for many of us, and as the new year approaches, we find ourselves in need of a bit of hope for the future. Towards that end and in honor to our loyal partners, clients, and employees, Keika has partnered with One Tree Planted to plant trees!

One Tree Planted is a nonprofit dedicated to global reforestation. They plant trees to restore nature and biodiversity. They also raise awareness about the importance of trees, offer businesses like ours a simple sustainability solution, and motivate younger generations to do something positive for the environment.

Their projects span the globe and are done in partnership with local communities and knowledgeable experts to create an impact for nature, people, and wildlife. Reforestation helps to rebuild forests after fires and floods, provide jobs for social impact, and restore biodiversity. Many projects have overlapping objectives, creating a combination of benefits that contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

250 trees in Honduras
250 trees Brazil
250 trees in Vietnam
250 trees with US Forest Service

Keika planted 1,000 trees in 2020!

Sustainability is close to our hearts here at Keika Ventures, and we have committed $1,000 this holiday season to planting trees, allocated to the following locations: US National Forests, Honduras, Brazil, and Vietnam. At $1 per tree, this donation supports the planting of 1,000 trees. We are thrilled with this partnership and honored to be a part of this reforestation effort, and we hope that we can continue this new tradition in years to come. All of us here at Keika and Eduwhere wish you the happiest of holidays as we all look forward to the hope and promise of a New Year.

We are planting 1,000 trees in Honduras, Brazil, Vietnam, and the U.S.

To learn more about One Tree Planted, visit https://onetreeplanted.org

Analytical Services Surge

Here at Keika Ventures, we are proud of our international reach. We serve clients across the globe and, together with Eduwhere, on all seven continents. Keika’s analytical division, which provides amazing assistance with project planning, design, and execution, is working non-stop to help our clients with their complex analytical projects. In the third quarter of 2020 alone, our analytical team produced record activity and revenues in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Iceland, Paraguay, Peru, Nicaragua, Singapore, Kenya, Israel, Mexico, Thailand, Trinidad, Uruguay, and the United States. These are only a subset of the countries where we do business and have active projects, and we want to congratulate and thank our employees for their hard work and dedication.

Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Iceland, Paraguay, Peru, Nicaragua, Singapore, Kenya, Israel, Mexico, Thailand, Trinidad, Uruguay, and the United States.

3rd Quarter, 2020
Over 100 country flags spread over the world map.
Clients in over 100 countries spread across all 7 continents.

Analytical Services
https://www.keikaventures.com/analytical.php

Training Coordinator Capabilities

We made a video tour of our Training Coordinator (TC) capabilities. TC access is available free for all our group accounts and lets you monitor student progress, enroll personnel, download certificates and training documentation, view expiring certificates, manage users, and pay for training at your convenience.

If you are responsible for ensuring that employees at your workplace are trained and in compliance, Eduwhere can help. We offer “Training Coordinator” accounts, which allow you to view the progress, payment, and expiration status for a group of trainees, as well as the ability to enroll new users and re-enroll existing users who are due for retraining. 

Training coordinators can monitor the progress of users in their training group, and send a reminder to those who may need a “gentle nudge” to complete their training. Once those training courses are complete, coordinators can download and print certificates. Of course, hard copies will still be sent by Eduwhere, unless the “go green” option was chosen.

Coordinators can also manage payments. Their portal will allow them to see which enrollments are still unpaid, and then make payments and download receipts for all enrollments in the group. Keeping track of which courses have been paid for can be a headache for those companies with employees taking training at different times throughout the year, but our training coordinator page can help.

New users can also be enrolled, and existing users re-enrolled, by the training coordinator. The portal allows the coordinator to view training which has recently expired, or which will expire soon, and ensures that the coordinator can keep employees on schedule and in-compliance with training requirements.

Here at Eduwhere, we want to help you make sure your employees stay in compliance. If you are already managing training for employees, give us a call (or send us an email) and let us set up a coordinator page for you.

Fluid Sample Collection at Hydrothermal Vents with Keika’s Kynar Bags

We love hearing stories from our clients, and we’re excited to be able to share a recent one with you! Researchers at the University of South Carolina are sampling fluids from Atlantic ocean hydrothermal vents, and they’ve used Keika Ventures’ Kynar® bags to do it. The researchers designed and assembled a water sampler, and sent Keika the required dimensions for their prototype bag. We worked with our vendor to create the bag according to specifications, and the experiment was a success. 

The water sampler was attached to a Remotely Operated Vehicle, or ROV, and sent to the ocean floor to collect samples from several hydrothermal vents on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. They collected sixty-seven samples of pristine hydrothermal fluids into our 2-L Kynar bags and six into 11-L bags. 

The UofSC team followed this up with another excursion to hydrothermal vents on the Mid-Cayman Rise spreading center, including the deepest known “black smoker” vents at 5,000 m. The team returned with seventy-nine 2-L Kynar bags and twenty-one 9L Kynar bags of hydrothermal fluids.

Keika's Kynar Sample Bags
Keika’s Kynar Sample Bags full of Atlantic seawater.
Hydrothermal vent sampling location in Atlantic Ocean.
From R/V Atlantis voyage AT42-01: Filename: sulis_20180916182458.jpg
Required Credit: Courtesy of Susan Lang, U. of South Carolina/NSF/ROV Jason/2018 ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
“Black Smoker”
From R/V Atlantis voyage AT42-22: Filename: untitled.png
Required Credit: Courtesy of Jeff Seewald, WHOI/NSF, NASA/ROV Jason/2020 ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Kynar® bag filled with fluid sample. Success!
© Mitch Elend, U. Washington / Lost City 2018 Return / NSF / ROV Jason
Testing the sampler with cylinders and Keika’s Kynar® sampling bags.

The USC team is planning another excursion for more samples, and we are excited to hear the results! 
Keika Ventures is pleased to be able to offer Tedlar® and Kynar® bags in a range of sizes and specifications, including Poly 2-in-1, Jaco, and Roberts Valves. We offer some of our most popular standard sizing options, from 0.5L up to 25L, all the way up to 250L bags. If you have unique needs for your sampling methods, as the USC team did, we are happy to help coordinate with our suppliers and ensure that you get the custom bags that you need. Keika Ventures can provide bags made with alternative films for unusual projects, or specially located valve fittings and grommets.

PVDF (Tedlar® & Kynar®) Bag Sampling Solutions

KeikaVentures offers polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) bags in a wide variety of sizes and valve fittings. We can also custom make bags to fit any particular size or application needs and can customize the location of valve fittings and grommets.

Keika’s Tedlar & Kynar Solution Page

Regulated Medical Waste

Eduwhere has recently created a new online course: Shipping Regulated Medical Waste. This course is designed to meet the training requirements set out in 49 CFR 172.700 Subpart H for shipping hazardous materials by ground, with a specific focus on shipping regulated medical waste. It covers such topics as identifying and classifying hazardous materials, preparing shipping documents,  and selecting proper packaging, marks, and labels. Anyone who handles biohazardous materials during any part of the shipping process, including loading and unloading, marking and labeling packages, preparing containers for shipment, preparing shipping papers and signing manifests, or otherwise being responsible for safety during transport is required by the DOT to have hazardous materials training. 

Regulated medical waste, or RMW, is considered to be a hazardous material by the DOT. It is also known as clinical waste or bio medical waste, and is defined as “a waste or reusable material derived from the medical treatment of an animal or human, which includes diagnosis and immunization, or from biomedical research, which includes the production and testing of biological byproducts.” These can include blood bags or items saturated with blood or other bodily fluids, IV bags, contaminated sharps, and culture dishes that were used to hold infectious agents, among other things. These items are often collected in a red biohazard bag (red bag waste). Medical waste that contains a Category A infectious substance, however, is classified as an infectious substance and must be shipped as such. If this definition sounds like what you ship, our new Shipping Regulated Medical Waste course may be appropriate training for you.

“a waste or reusable material derived from the medical treatment of an animal or human, which includes diagnosis and immunization, or from biomedical research, which includes the production and testing of biological byproducts.”

Medical or Clinical Waste, DOT
Biohazard Label

Shipping Regulated Medical Waste
https://www.eduwhere.com/coursedescription.php?courseID=69

Shipping Infectious Substances (IATA and DOT)
https://www.eduwhere.com/coursedescription.php?courseID=10

Shipping Coronavirus

Coronavirus, also known by its virus name SARS-CoV-2 and its disease name COVID-19, is appearing more and more in our news and becoming a wider spread concern, creating questions about safety protocols when transporting specimens. Samples of blood or tissue may need to be shipped for diagnostic purposes, or to a lab studying the virus to better understand its characteristics. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently provided interim guidelines for laboratory biosafety handling and processing of specimens associated with the Coronavirus Disease 2019, stating that specimens from suspected or potential patient cases of COVID-19 should be shipped under regulations for UN 3373 Biological Substance, Category B.

UN 3373 Biological Substance, Category B

UN3373 Package Mark

COVID-19 isn’t the first infectious substance that clinical facilities have shipped using the UN 3373 Biological Substance, Category B designation. The US Department of Transportation have well established procedures in place to classify, describe, label, mark, and package patient specimens for proper and safe shipping. These regulations include requirements for triple packaging as well as adequate absorbent and cushioning materials to prevent breakage and leaking. There are also specific labeling and marking requirements for the outside of the package, including the UN3373 mark, the words “Biological Substance, Category B”, and the name and phone number of a responsible person who can answer questions in case of emergency. Additional steps are required if dry ice is used.

Triple Packaging Requirements for UN3373

If you need more information on shipping biological substances and infectious substances, Eduwhere provides two courses covering the proper shipping of Infectious Substances:

For more information on coronavirus safety, see the CDC webpage on COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/lab-biosafety-guidelines.html