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Bruce Kania

Floating Island International

Bruce Kania was drawn to Montana by his passion for wildlife and wild places after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1976. Since 2005, he’s been able to protect these passions through his company, Floating Island International.

Kania has always been particularly interested in the abundant wildlife that make aquatic areas their home. From the time he arrived in Billings (before moving to Bozeman, Livingston, and ultimately Shepherd, MT) he was drawn to the local rivers, lakes, and streams for recreation and personal restoration.  “Although Montana’s not particularly known for being water-rich, we have this unique place at the top of the watershed that allows us to see dynamics at work that wouldn’t be possible anywhere else. It’s always been an inspiration to me.”

Spending time at local watering holes also opened Kania’s eyes to the problems population growth and agricultural runoff were creating. So he began applying his entrepreneurial skills to finding solutions.  At the time, he was running an inventions company out of Bozeman, focusing on products around prosthetic limbs and sporting goods.  Licensing a few of those inventions gave him the startup capital he needed to focus on his interest in applying biomimicry (using nature as a model for products/business) to restore ecological balance in aquatic habitat. In 2005, Floating Island International went commercial after years of research in Shepherd, Montana.

“People aren’t here to be detached from nature; it’s generally the exact opposite. That’s why I think we’ve received such a positive reception from the Montana community and invaluable support from the state agencies....We may be an international company, but we’ll always consider Montana our ‘mother ship’ because of that support.”

Floating Island International’s cutting-edge islands, or “floating treatment wetlands”, provide critical habitat and improve water quality by cycling nutrients to beneficial life forms, instead of the algae that thrives when nutrient levels are out of balance. As of 2013, the company is approaching 5,400 islands launched around the world in a broad spectrum of ecosystems, according to Kania:

“To date, our islands have weathered three hurricanes, one typhoon, and a 48-inch snowfall, from Singapore to the coast of Alaska, because we build them not only to survive, but thrive, in these conditions.  We’re basically learning to grow real estate that improves the ecological balance in the area. “

One of Kania’s favorite projects is a 50,000 square foot island launched in New Zealand’s Lake Rotorua in collaboration with a local Maori community. Currently his team is doing a lot of work in Canada, and is looking to add projects in Europe and Asia. Visitors from 42 nations have made their way to Shepherd to learn more about Floating Island International and their innovative systems for improving water quality. But, Kania insists, Montana will always be his home, and the headquarters for his growing business.  The quality of life he enjoys here is simply too good to leave behind, and he’s found Big Sky Country to be the perfect place to grow a business with a focus on improving our natural surroundings:

“People aren’t here to be detached from nature; it’s generally the exact opposite. That’s why I think we’ve received such a positive reception from the Montana community and invaluable support from the state agencies....We may be an international company, but we’ll always consider Montana our ‘mother ship’ because of that support.”

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Author: cg0137 STATE
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Categories: Entrepreneur ProfilesNumber of views: 1279

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