‘A Hand Dryer for the Twenty-First Century’ Podcast Features Denis Gagnon and the XLERATOR Story

“What do you make, and why do you make it?” asked Made In America host Ari Santiago. It’s his standard way of kicking off every interview for his podcast (available on YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts), but on this January 2023 episode, the signature two-part question was—fittingly—subject to customization. 

“We manufacture electric hand dryers, and I’m going to adjust part two of this and tell you why we needed to make the XLERATOR® Hand Dryer,” responded Santiago’s esteemed guest, Denis Gagnon, owner and president of Excel Dryer.  

The innovation was a need indeed, considering the “two harsh realities” Gagnon said he faced when he purchased the company in 1997. 

“Number one, we manufactured a product people don’t like using,” he explained. “Think about it. People do not like using hand dryers. They say, ‘Oh, doesn’t work. Takes too long.’ They get animated and have the gesture of wiping their hands on their clothing. So they passionately disliked using the product we were manufacturing. That’s not a good place.” 

The other challenge was the company’s official position as the second-largest hand dryer manufacturer in the U.S.—the largest being 10 times Excel Dryer’s size at that time. Determined to turn things around, Gagnon said, “We convened a strategic planning session and set on a path to develop a hand dryer for the twenty-first century.” 

Defining Dry

The Excel Dryer team had to focus on changing the public’s perception of their product by creating a version that worked efficiently and quickly to dry consumer’s hands. They partnered with renowned scientists to define the very meaning of “dry,” turning the “qualitative ‘my hands feel dry’ statement into a quantitative statement of, ‘you need two-tenths of a gram or less of residual moisture on the hands, and now we have dried those hands,’” Gagnon said.

Denis Gagnon and Ari Santiago in Made in America PodcastWithin three years, Excel Dryer had introduced a hand dryer that was three times faster than any other on the market—creating the high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryer category. 

“My tagline when we first launched XLERATOR was, ‘Finally … a fast hand dryer,’” Gagnon said. “So I’m solving the frustration people have.”

In addition to being the fastest—in terms of both hand drying and installation—the XLERATOR was born a green hand dryer, its ability to dramatically reduce a building’s carbon footprint by up to 75% having been proven early on. The new dryer also offered incredible cost savings over paper towels, a benefit our original and longtime customers continue to enjoy today.  

American-Made Strategy 

Speaking to the theme of the podcast, Gagnon explained his commitment to offering a cost-effective product that’s made in the United States. XLERATOR was the first hand dryer to be Made in USA Certified®, having met strict criteria on the origin of its components and location of its assembly.  

“We say ‘made in USA,’ we mean it,” he told Santiago. “Philosophically it was important to me, and we run a very efficient factory. So in my mind, if you’re efficient about it, you can make a product and sell it at the right price without having to import it because it’s cheaper from elsewhere. And we bang the drum on that.”

Watch the full podcast to learn more about Excel Dryer, our commitment to American manufacturing and, of course, our own Denis Gagnon. (Starbucks or Dunkin? Find out today.)

Contact us today to learn how American-Made Excel hand dryers can benefit your company.