“If you ask anybody the biggest drawback to living in Arizona, the answer would be the blistering summer heat. It drives the snowbirds back north, and drives those of us who stay here back indoors,” says Dave Johnson, president of MistAmerica. But that heat only drove Dave Johnson to join forces with MistAmerica founder Jon Marsh to develop an efficient and cost-effective solution to achieve year-round outdoor comfort not only in Phoenix, but in the rest of the world.
“Outdoor comfort is one of the main reasons we live in this Valley. We relish our 70-80 degree winter days, and our cool and comfortable spring and fall evenings. But there are many times throughout our seasons that we need to augment what nature gives us to be comfortable while enjoying the outdoors. Through years of research and testing, we have developed several solutions to make the outdoors an enjoyable place to be throughout the year,” Johnson says.
Johnson, who joined MistAmerica as president in 2004, relishes the challenges of running a small, vertically-integrated business. Prior to joining the firm he was a principal in multiple ventures, handling the finance, accounting and operations from his training as a CPA. Since joining MistAmerica he has been responsible for the oversight of all major projects including SanTan Village, MGM’s CityCenter, and Encore @ Wynn Las Vegas. He also loves to lend a helping hand to further the development of the Company’s own Mist360, a revolutionary product that was initially designed to replace the outdoor ceiling fan, but has transformed the restaurant and hospitality industry with its ability to completely cool the interior of their patios during the hotter times of the year.
Johnson says, “Prior to my arrival at MistAmerica, the company served primarily the residential market. As we moved into the commercial market in 2005-06, our product knowledge and application expertise increased. We developed a company culture built around putting the customer first, using innovative materials and not being afraid to invent and introduce new products.”
Due to the complexities involved in the design and implementation of the Mist360 system, MistAmerica initially opted to grow the business internally rather than to immediately market the product through various dealer networks nationwide and beyond.
“We needed to spend the time to research and test its performance in various markets prior to handing it off to the distribution channel,” Johnson says. For example, a Mist360 system that works well in Phoenix needs several adjustments before it can work as well in a different climate, such as Houston. “Now that we have completed our field testing, we are now lining up distributors in key markets, which will fuel our growth much faster than through our internal sales channel.”
The product’s first installation on a restaurant patio was met with great reviews and the firm has since worked with industry leaders such as Kona Grill, Starbucks and Buffalo Wild Wings. These and other products can also be found in theme parks such as SeaWorld, LEGOLAND and Disneyland, and in resorts such as the Venetian, MGM, Hyatt and Starwood properties.
According to Johnson, the commercial applications often lead to sales in the residential division. “Once we get the products out into the theme parks, restaurants and other areas, people realize how effective they are and want them for their homes. Our research team is working hard on a scaled down version of the Mist360 for the homeowner, and we hope to have a product ready to ship by the spring of 2016, in time for next year’s outdoor cooling season.”
“While the concept of the Mist360 grew from our desire to produce a more efficient product, I would be remiss if I didn’t give much of the credit for the product’s success to our employees. Their collaborative spirit brought the Mist360 to life. We manufacture all of our products in our Scottsdale facility, where many of the employees have been with me for seven or more years and share the company passion to continue to push the envelope and produce a better product for our customers,” Johnson says.
Johnson says the company is committed to a successful future through innovation. He cites the firm’s new Alfresco365 umbrella which provides mist, shade and heat for maximum comfort throughout the year with each umbrella equipped with heating, Mist360 cooling, and even lighting capabilities.
“We are still very active in the residential market with new installations as well as service for both our systems and systems that other companies have installed. But the commercial side of our business has really taken off due to the success of our Mist360, and our Alfresco365 total outdoor comfort system.”
The benefit of the Alfresco365 vs. traditional market umbrellas is the wind-rating of the cantilever umbrella design. These umbrellas have been successfully tested and remained open and intact in hurricane force winds, which typically shred any umbrella, even if they are closed. The cantilever design allows the customer to have total freedom under the umbrella to locate tables and chairs in whatever formation they desire, and helps them to maximize space. It’s a far less costly alternative to a built-in ceiling, and comes equipped with a Mist360 underneath and either gas or electric directional heaters mounted to the mast of the umbrella to heat the interior when needed.
MistAmerica is also active in the larger communities they serve by donating misting systems to worthy organizations.
“Our latest installation occurred in Dallas at the Dallas Life Ministries homeless shelter. Their entrance and pick-up area faces west, making it very uncomfortable for everyone. After installation of our misting system, the area has become a comfortable place for all to gather. I feel fortunate to represent an organization so committed to the people and organizations beyond its customer base,” Johnson says.
Johnson is planning to expand MistAmerica into Palm Springs and San Antonio in the near future. “We will continue to hire innovators to propel us forward as a company. We are thankful for the blessings we have received through serving our customers through the years – and look forward to many more years as we engineer the environment and reclaim outdoor areas to enjoy throughout each year. I see it as a mission – a cool mission,” Johnson says.