The inspiration behind Ari Raivetz’s everyday life as CEO at Organica Water comes from a personal goal of having a maximum impact on our environment. In his prior career as an Equity Analyst, Raivetz had covered many of the large Oil & Gas, Refining, and Diversified Industrial companies, and witnessed firsthand the damage these industries caused to our planet. He decided to spend the next part of his career repaying this “debt” by working to prove that it’s not only possible to improve our environment, but also to build a real business and create substantial economic value from doing so. Organica Water was built on a foundation that through innovation and perseverance we can change the world for the better, ultimately making profits while also reducing some of the harmful impact that humans have had on the environment.
Raivetz, who holds a bachelor’s from George Washington University and an MBA from Yale University’s School of Management, has more than 12 years of experience in the water sector. Prior to Organica he was Head of Water Private Equity Investments for RNK Capital, a private equity fund in New York City. At the time, many PE firms were investing in desalination technologies to help address water scarcity issues. After researching a bit more, Raivetz was shocked at how high the cost would be to convert ocean water into potable water. This led him to search more in the realm of wastewater recycling technologies. Raivetz was then introduced to Attila Bodnar, co-founder of Organica Water… and the rest is history.
When Raivetz met Bodnar, Organica had just sold its Hungarian wastewater design-build business, and the founders sought to leverage the remaining intellectual property and reference base (~15 facilities) to raise capital and market the Organica-technology on a global scale.
Raivetz was quickly drawn to the concept of taking this unique innovation and building something meaningful from it. RNK lead the Series A financing round, along with an Austrian VC Fund, and Raivetz subsequently became Chairman of the Board of Directors. Eventually the founders asked Raivetz if he would be interesting in running the business, as they felt they needed a different skillset to ensure Organica reached its maximum potential.
When he became CEO in 2011, Raivetz and his family moved across the Atlantic to Budapest, Hungary. Living abroad was an extremely gratifying experience for them. The opportunity offered a first-hand look into the culture and psyche of the Hungarian people, most of whom make up a large part of the Organica Water team, better known as “Organicans.”
This unique insight helped shape how Raivetz built the culture of Organica, based primarily on face to face experiences with both colleagues and customers. Most importantly, it took him outside of a US-centric view of the world and brought him and his family new perspectives on living.
Each year, Raivetz creates three key themes to guide the company towards achieving its financial and operational goals. The goals and themes are set to push the company to new limits and offer motivation for the employees, aiding them in their own personal and professional journey. Raivetz’s favorite key theme after 8 years? “Just Change It -> Just Systematize It.” It basically means if you are doing something over and over, and it’s not working, STOP! It would be insane to continue. On the other hand, if its working, then with the digital world we live in let’s figure out how to automate it so “dry rinse repeat” becomes as easy as clicking a button. This has been the most impactful theme, helping drive efficiencies and new ideas at the same time. Honorable mention goes to “Know What You Don’t Know” (Be Humble; Success lies first in recognizing what we do not yet know and charting our actions accordingly) and “A Will Finds a Way” (no matter what obstacle we face, use our resolve and ingenuity to get it done).
For the twentieth birthday of the company, the themes this year offer more creativity and drive; fitting for such a celebratory occasion. “Work Smarter, Not harder,” “Back to the Future,” and “Digital Data Drives Decisions.” Though these themes all seem to touch on different areas, they share one common thread. They all encompass hard work, dedication, and teamwork, which are something that Organica was built off of, something Raivetz continues to instill in each and every Organican daily.
The team has been the main driver the company’s tremendous growth; In 2011, when Raivetz moved to Hungary, Organica had about 30 facilities mostly in Europe, while today it boasts more than 110 facilities in 16 countries worldwide.
After four years in Hungary, Raivetz and his family left Budapest and moved back to the States, to what would become the home of Organica Water’s U.S. office in Princeton, New Jersey. As the company celebrated its twentieth anniversary this May 2019, he remains focused on bringing Organica’s unique approach to wastewater management to even more locations worldwide. At the same time, bringing another innovation to market – engineering design automation – has become a new and unexpected goal.
Over the years Organica has learned that by bringing the newest digital technologies front and center, its facilities can be operated more efficiently and reliably. However, little attention is paid to how we can leverage digital during the design phase. Recent developments in software make it easier than ever for consultants, planners and engineers to evaluate new and more sustainable approaches and technologies. Bringing automation into the design, dramatically reduces the time and cost in which it takes to create those designs. By doing so, design quality drastically improves, and the user can instantly evaluate an infinite number of alternatives to ensure the end result is exactly what is needed by the client.
For Raivetz, this offers a new channel to help provide efficiency and innovation to address water challenges at a broad scale. From this, it’s likely that engineers and planners will quickly find ways to apply it to the broader infrastructure sector, addressing some of our toughest environmental challenges with the latest and most innovative technologies… all at the click of a button!
On the Operation side, Raivetz says “it’s about sorting through the mess of buzzwords and big picture blah-blah that is out there to bring practical and usable technologies to improve asset efficiency and reliability.” Organica Water does this by combining team expertise gained from over 500 years of experience in the sector, with first-hand knowledge of best in class software and hardware that works in practice. With the company’s mission always top of mind and Raivetz leading the team, it’s never been easier for Organica to bring efficient, innovative and sustainable solutions to customers, helping them to solve their most challenging water problems.
Raivetz’s devotion for innovation and the need to make wastewater treatment more sustainable, could not be made possible without the incredible team of Organicans and all of our partners across the globe. Spread across six different offices worldwide, the team is extremely diverse and comes from all backgrounds and nationalities.
The most rewarding part of the job for Raivetz comes from his team, as he gets to work with such an awesome and passionate group of individuals every day. Aside from the gratitude that comes from making a significant difference in the world, watching each person grow personally and professionally, as the company grows along with them is something that can never be matched.