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July 23, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Rochat “pushing a locomotive from a stop”

Rainwater Resources Logo_2013-02(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a two-part series about local entrepreneur Denis Rochat and his passion for rainwater harvesting. The initial article can be found at

Denis Rochat describes his recent efforts to promote the concept of harvesting rainwater as “more like pushing a locomotive from a stop.”

Yet, in spite of the challenge, the President of Rainwater Resources maintains his passion and optimism about the progress that he has made and the future since the revelation that launched him on this initiative nearly three years ago.

In mid-2011, Rochat borrowed $50,000 from a friend and said, “Let’s go see if this is a good business to be in.” He planned to devote a year to examining rainwater harvesting including attending seminars.

By December of that year, however, Rochat says he “decided it was a tremendous business opportunity,” a decision that led to the formation of Rainwater Resources. He holed-up for 22 days in 2012 to write a comprehensive business plan.

Phase 1 was pulling together the core management team. “I was pretty naïve about how long it would take,” Rochat said. “I thought it would take three months when I started in July 2012.” The team was completed in April 2013 with the employment of the company’s Sales Manager.

“The pressure is building,” Rochat says as developers and others prepare for the implementation of new federal regulations that require new stormwater containment or reduction of flow plans in every instance where an acre of land is disturbed.

Rochat has already installed systems in homes in the City of Knoxville and a commercial project in Knox County. His knowledge of building codes and building permits has helped him navigate what could be challenging bureaucracies for others.

“I believe the first step is roof capture for economic value, with or without government incentives,” he says. “I believe we can put runoff ponds underground, capture water, and use it so that it is not a wasted resource.” This is a cost savings option for developers in terms of site preparation.

Rochat says he has executed an exclusive sales agreement for a German manufactured system to install its products in five major markets. He’s also teamed with Empire Construction, a company that is licensed in 22 states.

“We believe the model is right,” he says. “It is scalable, designed to be a complete system.” The rainwater harvesting system includes 12 components – from rooftop surface to controls and sensors.

Rochat is hosting “lunch and learns” to introduce the technology to architects, engineers, developers and government agencies.

He is also positioning the company for a larger geographic footprint. Rainwater Resources will expand into Nashville this month and Atlanta in October. As he expands, Rochat says that there will be a strong service focus with “boots on the ground.”

“Can we use Knoxville as a launching point for a national brand?” Rochat asks. One suspects he knows what he wants the answer to be.

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