Standing around the Nutrient Enrichment Passive System — the latest invention from Exlterra, in Hazel Park — are Patrick Niemczyk, Robert Niemczyk, lead inventor Andrew Niemczyk, company CEO Frank Muller, Nathan Rose and Kory Wood.

Standing around the Nutrient Enrichment Passive System — the latest invention from Exlterra, in Hazel Park — are Patrick Niemczyk, Robert Niemczyk, lead inventor Andrew Niemczyk, company CEO Frank Muller, Nathan Rose and Kory Wood.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Hazel Park company unveils new tech to help trees grow

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published September 11, 2018

HAZEL PARK — Last year, green company Exlterra unveiled the HAZL drill rig, named after Hazel Park, the city the company calls home. 

Light and flexible, the rig can maneuver tight spaces without wear and tear on the earth, allowing it to install underground systems just about anywhere. And now the company has unveiled a new technology that HAZL can help install — one that will help newly planted trees grow.

The Nutrient Enrichment Passive System, or NEPS, consists of a series of polyethylene extrusions that are installed underground around a tree. Exlterra says the tech works in any type of soil or climate, including at high elevations. 

NEPS taps into nutrients that are located deep in the soil, beyond the reach of tree roots, nourishing the tree. This promotes the growth, vitality and yield of trees in a sustainable way, increasing survival rates on newly planted trees. Exlterra says this also results in denser canopies, improved air quality and, for fruit growers, an increase in better-tasting and nutrient-rich fruit. 

NEPS is targeted at urban foresters, landscapers, and commercial and residential tree owners — really, anyone looking to plant a tree. NEPS has already shown promising results at several pilot sites in Michigan and California, as well as overseas in Geneva and Valais in Switzerland. 

“Early results show that young trees and trees under stress very quickly reacted to NEPS and gained vitality and resilience,” said Nathan Rose, senior project manager for Exlterra. “Exlterra will disclose more details about NEPS after a full year of installation.” 

In addition to NEPS and HAZL, Exlterra invented an energy-passive groundwater recharge product in 2010. The company’s founder, Andrew Niemczyk, invented this system along with HAZL and NEPS. His goal is to continue introducing technologies tackling environmental challenges. 

Exlterra itself was founded in 2004 in Southfield. In 2013, the company moved to Hazel Park, where it is currently located at 618 E. 10 Mile Road. In addition to Hazel Park, Exlterra has a second location in Plan-les-Ouates, Switzerland. Its CEO is Frank Muller. The company’s team consists of just eight members. Its facility in Hazel Park is about 6,000 square feet. 

The company’s name is derived from “excellent” and “terra,” the Latin word for “earth.” For the HAZL drill rig, the company dropped the “e” in “Hazel” to stay consistent with the spelling of “Exlterra” itself. 

Rose said that Exlterra doesn’t disclose any of the operating information of its proprietary tech, nor does it disclose what’s coming down the company’s research and development pipeline. But since announcing NEPS, Exlterra has received numerous requests from residential customers in metro Detroit, as well as other cities in Michigan, California and Switzerland. 

Rose praised Hazel Park’s support through it all.

“(Exlterra has) enjoyed a very healthy relationship with the city and city officials,” Rose said. “The availability and support of Mayor Michael Webb, City Manager Ed Klobucher and (Community Development Director) Jeff Campbell are very much appreciated and illustrate how business-friendly Hazel Park is.”

Campbell said Hazel Park is happy to have them.

“Their willingness to name the drill after the city and to test NEPS at Scout Park when we put in 20 new trees over there — putting in the system for all the new trees to ensure they receive the proper nutrients and grow — shows their commitment to Hazel Park,” Campbell said. “Even within their field, they’re doing such revolutionary and daring things that I think will put them at the forefront of the sustainable movement.”

Klobucher agreed. 

“Exlterra is a 21st-century company that has the potential to help with everything from stormwater management to healthy trees,” Klobucher said. “And we’re proud to have them here in Hazel Park.”