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Company uses carbon fiber strands to make new tire sealant

Published September 10, 2020

OXFORD, N.C. (BRAIN) — A company with expertise in speciality coatings containing carbon, quartz, and ceramic fibers certainly would seem to have the ideal background to formulate an effective tire sealant.

However, when that company is Omnia Products and its business is tailored more to aerospace applications for aircraft engine components, sealing punctures in bicycle tires might seem like a waste of resources.

But not when it personally affects a co-worker's son and his chance at winning a collegiate national championship. And it was a puncture in the cross-country race that led to Omnia Products bringing to market Black Ox, a new sealant tested to plug a small-caliber .22 rifle shot.

The son of Omnia's president, John Dispennette, and a co-worker's son attended the collegiate national championships last year when the co-worker's son suffered a "minor nick" between the edge of the tread and sidewall.

It would not seal and a DNF resulted.

"There was a premium, top-brand sealant in there," said Dispennette, who took over Omnia Products in 2011. "After the race, we were kind of joking around, looking at all the products we make. We use a lot of latex in our business. We use the majority of chemicals that are in sealants, and we have this capability of the fibers we produce, and we thought, heck, let's see if we can come up with something better."

Black Ox Sealant incorporates carbon fibers processed by Omnia Products to optimize sealing performance. "We feel the carbon fibers are a significant contributor there, and we do have some other additives for coagulants in the sealant as well," Dispennette said. "But we've done a lot of testing trying to optimize fiber lengths and (the length's) impact on how efficiently and quickly it seals and permanently seals."

Upon returning from nationals last September, work began on Black Ox, and it entered the crowded tire sealant market in April. Manufactured in Oxford, it's sold through its website and about 10-15 local bike shops, mainly in Eastern North Carolina.

Designed to be injected through the valve stem, a 4-ounce bottle that will seal up to a 2.5-inch wide mountain bike tire is $5.99. A 16-ounce container is $17.99, and 32 ounces is $27.99. It's also designed to work with road, gravel, and fat bike tires.

"We're getting more and more bike shops we're working with," Dispennette said. "We haven't taken out any advertising anywhere yet. We're starting to consider that. COVID derailed a lot of our plans this year. We plan to sponsor some events soon as they come available."

While he said e-commerce is new to Omnia Products and something the company is learning more about daily, "it's becoming pretty obvious that that's tough to do — direct sales — on a constant basis." So Dispennette said he's looking for distributors to carry Black Ox.

Until then, it enjoys a loyal local following.

"We're getting a lot of traction locally in North Carolina and South Carolina," said Dispennette, who added marketing so far has mostly been through social media. "Locally is as far as our recognition is."

Black Ox tire sealant contains carbon fiber strands.

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