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Eric Apfelbach has led a couple of the Madison area's more innovative companies at their early stages.

They include Alfalight, whose laser diodes emit high-power beams of light, and Virent, whose plant-based fuels can substitute for petroleum-based fuels.

Apfelbach was also CEO of EnSync Energy Systems, formerly ZBB Energy, an energy storage and renewable microgrid company in Milwaukee. 

Now, Apfelbach is leading PegEx, a Fitchburg company that coordinates hazardous waste cleanups for client companies. PegEx has just raised $8 million and Apfelbach has plans for growing the business, formerly called Pegasus Sustainability Solutions.

PegEx doesn't get rid of hazardous waste itself; it hires companies to conduct the removal according to government standards and it handles the paperwork. 

"Hazardous waste disposal and management is very complicated ... Everything has to be done right," Apfelbach said. 

Apfelbach, 57, joined the company in September 2016 when Pegasus investors decided to change the CEO. "They asked me to come in and help grow the company," he said. "We cut about 50 percent of the (employees) and over the next year, grew revenue about 65 percent."

The company's name was changed to PegEx and it expanded its technology to provide software for the hazardous waste industry.

"We rebranded it as a higher-tech company," Apfelbach said. "We added mobile apps and customer portals.

PegEx has 27 employees, with about 22 of them at its Fitchburg headquarters at 2693 Research Park Drive. Since the company began, as Pegasus, in 2012, it has raised nearly $16 million.

Apfelbach said the new investment money will be used to add staff -- about 10 employees in the next year -- and upgrading the software. He said the company has handled jobs in all 50 states and in Canada and had about $7.5 million in revenue in 2017.

Apfelbach said he sees a wide range of possibilities for expanding PegEx's functions. "Think about all the places chemicals are used, or are in waste streams," he said. "We want to use modern, new technology to solve a big problem."

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Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.