Rickey Ruff

Managing Director

Global Nuclear Concepts

May 19, 2021

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Ep 310: Rickey Ruff - Managing Director, Global Nuclear Concepts
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Bret Kugelmass
We are here today with Rickey Ruff, who is the Managing Director of Global Nuclear Concepts - and this is a very special episode, everybody, because this is the first in-person one that we're doing since the start of COVID. Rickey, welcome the Titans of Nuclear.

Rickey Ruff
Thank you very much, I'm honored to be here. I'm honored to be the first back from COVID as well.

Bret Kugelmass
Listen, you combine two very interesting worlds, the worlds of fashion, the world of nuclear, and I can't wait to get to that. But first, we have to learn more about you as a person. Where'd you grow up? What was your start getting into the fashion space?

Rickey Ruff
I feel like I was born to do what I do professionally in fashion. I grew up in Colorado and got a first sewing machine when I was about seven and was just really attracted to the industry ever since then. I knew, very immediately, that I would be studying that in college and following that sort of trajectory and career path. I went to Marist College in New York - that was always a big dream to go from Colorado to New York, for me, that was like checking a major life goal box - so, I went to Marist College in New York, majored in Design and Merchandising. I had two minors, which were business and product development, and then actually left in my senior year to move to Hong Kong and basically just wanted to get incredibly deep and make these incredibly intimate relationships with factories and to understand manufacturing and really how to make your ideas come true. And honestly, with clothing, you got to do that in China, sort of.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay. Well, tell me, when you went to Hong Kong, was it as part of an organization, was it you just going on your own trying to be entrepreneurial?

Rickey Ruff
It was, I'm a big fan of James Bond and a big fan of adventure and the more remote location I can find myself and actually find a way to survive and thrive, to me that's fulfillment. It was just literally an adventure I went on. There were a couple internships and there were some very academic reasons that I was going. I had the full support of my entire faculty, my parents, like everyone that I knew said, Wow, Ricky, this is something you are uniquely qualified and called to do and it makes total sense that you would do something like this.

Bret Kugelmass
Can you get by in Hong Kong speaking English? Or did you have to learn?

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely. So many other countries around the world - and not to get so quickly into geopolitics, I'm sure we might later - but, many countries around the world speak English. We could probably thank the British Empire for this, in some ways, but in Hong Kong, it's incredibly English-speaking, and they were actually a colony of Great Britain. So, they speak British English, however, so high tea is very popular. But needless to say - that was a long-winded answer - yes, I can speak English there.

Bret Kugelmass
When you get there, and you get set up there, how do you start to build a network? What do you do, you just knock on the doors of some factories?

Rickey Ruff
Literally, yes, you have to be outgoing. Obviously, before I went, I did an incredible amount of diligence just in terms of finding factories and manufacturing houses, dye houses, textile mills, anyone that would talk to me, really.

Bret Kugelmass
Was all this just internet research?

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely, absolutely. And then, as you're mentioning, you have to literally go and knock on the door. Honestly, that's an easier approach. When you're in-person there with someone and you can really express your passion and interest and humility, they're more willing to tell you everything, teach you everything. I'm a very humble learner, it doesn't matter in terms of how ever high I get professionally, I'm always just that kid knocking on doors of factories, trying to learn.

Bret Kugelmass
I love that, I'm the same way and I feel like a lot of people who don't try it, don't realize how eager other people are to help. If you go in and you're earnest, and you just really do want to learn about someone's practice or someone's trade, you will find people who want to help you. But most people don't do that. Most people just are happy swimming in their lane and just wait until other people decide for them. But not you.

Rickey Ruff
Exactly, and that's one thing I wanted to just thank you for, and thank Michelle for, and really just the Energy Impact Center. Everyone I've met in nuclear, so far, so surprised, blown away, even, by how welcoming the community has been. I'm definitely not an MIT nuclear physicist. I mean, we could discuss fission, but that's absolutely not my area of expertise. I'm coming to nuclear as an outsider, as a person from fashion. I've had to really embrace the steep learning curve in terms of how much I need to know to have these sort of conversations and really move the energy pendulum forward. Right. So, I've just been so blown away by how welcoming everyone's been and how just nice and I didn't expect that, I really did not expect that.

Bret Kugelmass
It's a hard industry to crack into, but I think once you do, and once you meet a few people, and they're willing to make introductions, and you develop a little bit of reputation, what you'll find are some of the nicest and smartest people on planet Earth to help introduce you to what is really, not only an incredible technology, but really an incredible science, as well. So, tell me, when did you first hear about nuclear? Were you trying to figure out some sort of energy problem?

Rickey Ruff
I was working with Ralph Lauren, I went from Marist to Ralph Lauren. I actually, from Hong Kong, got an internship and came back to New York and started interning with Ralph. From there, I was able to secure my full-time career with Ralph. And so, I was working in global manufacturing and sourcing. That is kind of a broad way to discuss everything that it takes to take one concept and make it a real product. That means fabric sourcing, that means actual raw material sourcing, that means actually finding the factory, negotiating units and negotiating price, like every aspect you can imagine, that was my first career path. After seven years of that, I decided that I needed to extend that a little bit further. I was looking for this sense of purpose. And just having met Ralph and seeing how much impact that he had-

Bret Kugelmass
Wait, so when you say Ralph, you don't mean the company, Ralph Lauren, do you mean the actual Ralph Lauren?

Rickey Ruff
I did get to meet Mr. Lauren, yes.

Bret Kugelmass
Who are you that you just get to meet the leaders of this industry so fast? How did you get this introduction?

Rickey Ruff
It kind of goes back to that concept of just being humble and expressing your true desire and passion to know everything about your craft. That's one thing I do credit Marist for, it's as business focused, as it is creativity focused, as it is manufacturing focused, that gave me an incredibly well-rounded view to approach the industry from, so that kind of put me in a lot of conversations, where I'm able to speak to the creative side, but also to the financial side. Again, that put me in those conversations with Mr. Lauren, but really, I met him at a book signing he was having for his wife. His wife's name is also Ricky, they were 26, they met in a doctor's office, and she wrote a book - this is probably like, 2011, 2012 - and she wrote a book and she had a book signing at the mansion - we have a Ralph Lauren mansion on Madison Avenue. A lot of the corporate events were held there and I just was humbled to be invited to one of these. I walk up to her and asked her to sign my book - and, you know, it's Ricky, Ricky to Rickey - so, that was a cool moment, but I also met a gentleman named Charles Fagan, and I just was so humbled to meet him. His story, actually, was he was working in a sock cage - this is way back when he started, we're talking like 70s, 80s-

Bret Kugelmass
What's a sock cage?

Rickey Ruff
In the retail store, it's one of those retail functions, and Mr. Lauren walks by, and he just says, Hi, Ralph. And that's how - and now he's the Chief of Staff to Mr. Lauren to this day, but that was his story of how he first met Ralph. So, I saw Charles at this party, and I just expressed that story to him and how interested I was-

Bret Kugelmass
Wait, I'm sorry, what's a sock cage? Like tossing socks around?

Rickey Ruff
It's really, again, just to reiterate, just a retail function at the mansion. It's like a tie cage, like a tie bar.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay, okay. Okay, so it's a room with a bunch of cool looking socks.

Rickey Ruff
Exactly, exactly. Mr. Lauren started with ties.

Bret Kugelmass
You have to understand, I don't know anything about fashion.

Rickey Ruff
I'm happy to explain anything.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay, so, you were kind of able to very quickly network your way up through asking good questions, being open to learn. Got it, I mean, I can see that, that makes perfect sense. Okay, so you're hanging out with Ralph these days, and then how does this lead to energy?

Rickey Ruff
So, I need to clarify, I was fortunate enough to meet him back in 2012 and we had a conversation and I told him about my past and I also played football and just mentioned how in love with the company I really was, and he told me, You're really cool, you have a lot of style. From there, I was able to just continue to go back to work, like we have a few different offices - I say we, I do still feel very much part of the company, but I should say - Ralph Lauren, the company, has offices around New York. So, I was working in the West 39th Street office and also on the Seventh Avenue office at this time, so, there's also the Madison Avenue office. But again, I just went back to work, went back to doing my job, but had the opportunity to work on one of the softwares that we were transitioning into for all the manufacturing teams at the company-

Bret Kugelmass
Like an inventory tracking software?

Rickey Ruff
More like a production software, more like a production software. So basically, end to end concept-

Bret Kugelmass
So, you can actually do design work in the software?

Rickey Ruff
You can, you build your tech packs, and you communicate that. It's an industry standard now, but back then we were just transitioning onto it.

Bret Kugelmass
Kind of like Autodesk suite, but for the fashion industry or something like that?

Rickey Ruff
That's exactly it. Yes.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay. Please continue. Sorry.

Rickey Ruff
Oh no, pardon me. So, I basically got a chance to work from this project on the runway collection. It was kind of a full circle moment when I would have more, let's say, interaction with him just working on a collection. But it is a situation where there are thousands of people that work at the company, so, I was just incredibly fortunate to be able to have that interaction with him. But I say all that to say that I was just so impressed with his sense of purpose and his sense of impact on the world and his craft. So inspired by that. So, just personally, we have an office in Geneva, Switzerland - I say we, sorry - but there's an office in Geneva, Switzerland that I had the opportunity to also travel to a few times. And then from Hong Kong, some of my best friends, that I lived with there, lived in Zurich. I was going to Switzerland every year, basically, since 2010. I decided I needed a Master's degree, like this was so important. It's an easy transition to make knowing that you need an advanced degree to advance your career.

Bret Kugelmass
What'd you get your Master's in?

Rickey Ruff
I got it in international management.

Bret Kugelmass
Wow. Okay, going into business.

Rickey Ruff
Exactly, exactly. And so, I thought to myself

Bret Kugelmass
Well, the Swiss are known for this, right? I mean, it's like those are top programs.

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely.

Bret Kugelmass
World renowned.

Rickey Ruff
I was shooting for the stars. I was shooting for the moon, actually. Yeah. There's no harm in asking, no harm in trying and you just have to kind of set your ambition to the very top, and ironically, that's how you find a lot of success. Just kind of find the top notch and shoot for it.

Bret Kugelmass
Yep. Okay, so you're at business school, and then?

Rickey Ruff
This is a chance where, in Switzerland, I got a chance to do so many case studies in so many-

Bret Kugelmass
What year is this?

Rickey Ruff
This is 2017.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay, we're getting to present day soon.

Rickey Ruff
Getting to the present day, absolutely. I had a chance to work with the Swiss Department of Federal Affairs, and also the SDC, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. And again-

Bret Kugelmass
Like a trade organization.

Rickey Ruff
Exactly. Well, it's a government organization, but they're really focused on advancing the UN SDGs.

Bret Kugelmass
The UN, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely, yes. You'll have to forgive me, but like, this was the first time, in 2017, that I had a real deep exposure to these goals.

Bret Kugelmass
I think me too, I don't think I got to see the Sustainable Development Goals until 2017, either, so, you and I are on similar timelines here.

Rickey Ruff
Awesome, awesome. Happy to know, I wasn't late to the game in that respect.

Bret Kugelmass
Well, I think with the urgency around climate right now, you're going to see a lot more people getting into the fight, understanding its importance. And because of this urgency - it's so funny, like that concept that you just said, I hope I'm not too late. I think it's, as the urgency becomes more clear, more people start coming together. I think they're like some - you know, not to get too spiritual or anything - but overarching forces that kind of like drive, beyond our control as individuals, that move people and resources around to help address problems as they become more relevant. So, I don't think you're too late. That was a little long winded.

Rickey Ruff
I'm happy that you're mentioning that, because I also believe everything happens for a reason, right? Every day is on purpose. Everything is with intention. I'm a Christian guy, but I believe it's all ordained and it's all sort of put in place and arranged in a very special way. I mean, that's how I approach every day. But all that to say, I got really engaged with these SDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals, and it was inspirational to me to know that the biggest problems on Earth are sort of consolidated into this list of goals. And not only are they consolidated, but now we can address some of the solutions to these problems. To me, I mean, that's 90% of the battle to identify what we're trying to solve.

Bret Kugelmass
I couldn't agree more. And I think I know where you're going with this - so forgive me if I preempt you - so many of those Sustainable Development Goals are tied to energy: poverty and climate and air pollution and water, right? They're all tied to energy at the end of the day.

Rickey Ruff
Yes. Number six, water. Number 13, I believe, the immediate action toward climate change.

Bret Kugelmass
You got them memorized.

Rickey Ruff
I mean, they're inside of me now, they're a part of me. Number 12. Number 13. Right, Number Seven, probably one of the most important to the nuclear industry, right? This ensuring reliable and modern and sustainable energy.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay, so you got really moved by this concept of Sustainable Development Goals. You know, was I right in saying that you realized energy was tied to so many of them?

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely, yes. Yes. And so, when we start to talk about the practicality of how we adopt these concepts into business, it's this idea of ending the zero sum game and letting the tide rise all the boats and creating a situation where everyone can win, right? It's not a matter of business wins, people lose, or people win, business loses, right? I'm all about stakeholder capitalism. All of these things can advance at the same time. So, it's a paradigm shift for me and that's how I approach all of my business models. That's how I approach my business thinking. That's how I approach my business strategy. It's really a paradigm shift that kind of goes against some of those, you know, Friedman-esque methodologies of the past. This is a new generation and a very special moment where that paradigm is shifting, you'll hear me talk about that quite a bit. In terms of history and human history, this is a very, I would say, one of the most exciting times. We'll also talk later about the fourth industrial revolution and all of these things that are happening right now that really haven't ever happened before.

Bret Kugelmass
So, this new paradigm is kind of crystallizing for you and how you want to take your efforts moving forward. How does this turn into your next career choice?

Rickey Ruff
Right. Fast forward to the end of my Master's, and I'd left Ralph with the presumption of coming back. And that's, to quote John Barbados, it's a school, Ralph Lauren is a school and that's his approach to attracting top talent. Come, learn, leave, grow, come back, leave again.

Bret Kugelmass
What a cool way to do it.

Rickey Ruff
It's very open in that sense. So, I was fully expecting to finish my Master's and go back to New York and go back to Ralph. However, there were so many other opportunities that were kind of bombarding me at this point. There was an office in Geneva, there's a Ralph Lauren office in London, there's one in Hong Kong and so, I thought that was a very logical next step as well, and I kind of fell in love with Switzerland. I mean, understandably - again, forgive me for being a little obvious about that - but when I got there, I was like, I never want to leave here. Europe was just like a really incredible experience. It wasn't my first experience there, but I think it was my first experience as a resident and living there and spending some extended period of time there.

Bret Kugelmass
Sorry, which city were you in again?

Rickey Ruff
Lugano, Switzerland. It's in the south, on the Italian border.

Bret Kugelmass
It's on the Italian border on the south. Okay. Interesting. Yeah, I think I went to Geneva, it must have been, when I visited CERN, their research institute. Yeah, I love that. I mean, when I showed up there, I flew in the night that they were playing in the World Cup and I flew in, and I took the train in from the airport to downtown and there was just this mass of people, you know, come on, it's Europe, it's soccer. I was only there for a few days, but I really got to enjoy that culture as well, too, so I'm not surprised.

Rickey Ruff
I was really also interviewing with some other brands. They just kind of approached. I had many, many interviews and conversations with Gucci, and also Louis Vuitton and their roles in France, and roles in Switzerland, and roles in Italy. I was really considering all of this quite heavily. Then, I actually got a call from Adidas and that's what took me out to Los Angeles. Working in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and I was living in Calabasas in Woodland Hills, and that that was like, something-

Bret Kugelmass
What was this from Adidas? What kind of job did they offer you? What do they want you to do?

Rickey Ruff
I started there as a Creation Process Manager, so I was working with Kanye on the Yeezy product.

Bret Kugelmass
I know people who call themselves sneakerheads, I think that's a term, right?

Rickey Ruff
It is a term, it's a culture.

Bret Kugelmass
Because there's this whole culture around - and to me, I buy some shoes off of Amazon or something, just whatever I can throw on my feet - but some people really understand the nuances and differences to it. Everything from the materials and the comfort. I mean, it's a complex product, right?

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely. If we talk about apparel versus footwear, right, they're two different levels of comfort and fit. If we look at the way the human body is set up, there are two different processes, right. Then, if we talk about creation, it's two different ways that you need to produce. Clothing, we're talking a lot of materials, a lot of focus on comfort and tailoring.

Bret Kugelmass
That's the next thing I was going to ask you. I mean, material sciences - and this comes back to nuclear as well - it's like a constantly evolving space. As scientists in a lab cook up a new type of polymer, does that find its way into the footwear world, like measuring how someone might walk a little bit differently or give them some bounce to their step, or conserve energy, or last a little bit longer? Are these like, am I just making stuff up? Or are these all variables that people consider?

Rickey Ruff
You're right on track, and that was sort of what I learned. In recent years in my career was this idea of engineering that takes place. There are opportunities at clothing brands for all kinds of creative, right economists, lawyers, obviously, fashion design people. But engineering is another big part of that. Absolutely, yes. And so, this kind of takes us back to the period in which I was - before I came to Adidas, there was also a job at DowDuPont that I was applying for.

Bret Kugelmass
The chemical company?

Rickey Ruff
Yes, they have a whole division on protective apparel. I flew a couple of times to Luxembourg and got really deep in their interview process as well.

Bret Kugelmass
Protective apparel, is that fire suits and stuff?

Rickey Ruff
Yes, So, for this, let's say interview, I did a few projects and I got a chance to go deep into, let's say, what the fireman material, what they use on their suits. I've also looked at F1 and what they use in their racing suits, and even those fire-retardant racing gloves. Right. I talked a lot to people in the military. I had family members in the military.

Bret Kugelmass
This is just another example of your insatiable curiosity and how it's driven you from place to place?

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely.

Bret Kugelmass
So, tell me: energy. I think we're all beginning to get the type of person you are. You see something, get passionate about it, you learn a ton, you go after it. Energy, where did this come into play?

Rickey Ruff
Right. If we kind of fast forward to our COVID lockdown, I had some time to really let a lot of these ideas sink in. I got a chance to read a ton of books and just really get deep into what could transform a society, what could evolve a society, what innovation is really about, because I went directly for my Master's right back into industry. This period was - some people gained 50 pounds and stayed on the couch - but I really saw it as an opportunity to let a lot of these ideas just sort of marinate. I also got this sense of responsibility. I'm very much in love with fashion. You'll understand that a lot of people in the fashion sustainability space tend to attack fashion. But I'm definitely one of the people that's looking to just evolve it and take responsibility to extend it, and really just show leadership and energy was, for me, a clear way to do that. So, I founded Global Nuclear Concepts in June of last year to do just that. To leverage a lot of my experience with factories and my intimate understanding of fashion, with my new understanding of nuclear and of the energy sector. So, to get back to nuclear as well. I took, in Germany, the Foreign Service Officer exam. If you can imagine, that was inspired by my love of James Bond, but here I am in Europe, having this newly minted degree. I always kind of fancied and mused about being a diplomat. That's very important to me, to just be in foreign countries and be in foreign places and to even represent myself and represent my country in foreign situations. That's always been something I'm interested in.

Bret Kugelmass
An ambassador.

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely, yes. Some of the ambassadors that I met during my program kind of encouraged this as well. So, I took the exam, but ironically, one of the essay questions on the Foreign Service Officer exam, in this 2018 year I took it was, would you deploy nuclear? Is it safe? Is it tenable? Where would you deploy it first? Is it cost affordable? And I was armed with the ability to really kill this essay question, because I had done a specific case study on it through my Master's.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay, so, even in your Master's, you got a little taste of what nuclear is and how it fits into the energy makeup.

Rickey Ruff
Yes.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay, very interesting. And that makes sense, because Switzerland has nuclear plants.

Rickey Ruff
I wouldn't call them pro nuclear.

Bret Kugelmass
They're winding down, but they used to be and they built them. They're kind of going the way of Germany now, is that the current?

Rickey Ruff
Which is so unfortunate, it's just so unfortunate, Germany, decommissioning their plants. Even in the US, we're decommissioning plants. We should really look at the mechanics of why we're doing that, and the overall and overarching goals of why that's happening, because I don't think it's correct. But I look at France as a model. I look at China as a model. These are countries that are going incredibly fast and deep into nuclear because they recognize the climate abatement capability that it has. It's a tool that we have to fight climate change. And that's very important for me to look at now as I evolve my own company. It's the market that we're talking about and the country that we're talking about. I would love the US to be a leader in this space and I'm hoping to drive that, but it's absolutely a global multilateral initiative and I'm looking at how it's evolving in many countries around the world.

Bret Kugelmass
Tell me, you got to spend time really musing on the what you know about the world, what you know about energy systems, what you know about industry, right, because you're so heavily involved in industry. What was your next step? In forming this company, who did you want to meet with? I mean, I know you found your way to us, which is amazing. But who are some of the other organizations that you started meeting with to try to understand what, really, is the state of the nuclear industry and how can I maybe apply technologies to these end goals?

Rickey Ruff
Right, you are absolutely on the list. The Energy Impact Center is obviously, I would say, a pinnacle of information, but also progress, but also taking a modern approach of how we can deploy.

Bret Kugelmass
Oh, stop it.

Rickey Ruff
Sure, you guys are on the list, but I also was musing about the Nuclear Energy Institute, NEI, I actually just had a meeting with them yesterday. Even the manufacturing companies, so if we look at Westinghouse, and if we look at GE Hitachi, and also Rolls Royce, right, these are companies I've had the opportunity to have strategic conversations with, in recent times, let's say the last couple months. But it's really about looking at the stakeholder landscape and looking at even how the utilities fit into this, and how our current energy makeup in this country, but also other countries is functioning and to kind of unpack how I could fit in into that space.

Bret Kugelmass
Do you have a specific deployment sector in mind, let's put country aside for a second. Given that you know so much about the textile industry - I'm sure they've got energy consumption needs - is that what you want to bring it to first, or are you sector agnostic?

Rickey Ruff
My mission, at the moment, is to decarbonize manufacturing in the fashion industry. Absolutely. So, I'm attacking factories first.

Bret Kugelmass
You know the people and you've got the relationship. I mean, it makes perfect sense. And I'm sure that's not where your ambitions end. I'm sure once you decarbonize the fashion industry, knock down data centers next, knock down aluminum next, knock down clean water next.

Rickey Ruff
Yes.

Bret Kugelmass
Let's start with the fashion industry. Do you have some sort of model of different factories, how much energy they consume and what would be the right type of nuclear technology to deploy there?

Rickey Ruff
Right. I'm looking specifically at small nuclear, micro nuclear, if you will.

Bret Kugelmass
What kind of output are we talking about? 10 megawatts, 50 megawatts?

Rickey Ruff
I need less than 100. I need less than 100. But let's say 10 would not be far off from where I need to begin to deploy this. Obviously, if we imagine one factory, versus a science park, or a factory complex, those are two different yields. But I'm focused on like the bare minimum, I call that the MVP, the minimum viable product. I just need to get proof of concept established

Bret Kugelmass
Makes perfect sense. Is there a type? Because I don't- I mean, I can imagine the things I've seen on like How Stuff's Made about weaving the fabrics. Where is the energy consumption in these factories? Is it big machines that chop stuff, is it machines that heat up chemical vats? Where is the energy being used?

Rickey Ruff
Let's talk about it in terms of tiers. There's Tier One and Tier Two and Tier Three. Tier One is finished goods manufacturing, so we're talking about cutting, and we're talking about sewing, and we're talking about spreading.

Bret Kugelmass
And this is electricity, they just need to run big machines, essentially,

Rickey Ruff
Exactly.

Bret Kugelmass
What tier was that again?

Rickey Ruff
Tier One, and we're also looking at the scope of emissions, so, we're talking Scope Three emissions at a Tier One factory. I'm definitely attacking those Scope Three, I think brands do a good job at the moment attacking the Scope One emissions.

Bret Kugelmass
What are the different scopes?

Rickey Ruff
If we talk about Scope One, Scope Two and Scope Three emissions, it's all about the level of, let's say, impact that you're having as an entity. So, Scope One is your own lights, your own electricity that take place in your own facilities, that's Scope One. Scope Two is basically going into - and this is something you could probably even teach me about - but Scope Two is really the energy footprint from the electricity that you purchase from the energy that you need that you purchase. And then, Scope Three is going to be all of your, let's say, supply chain energy footprint that happens. That's, again, the majority of the emissions that take place in fashion are coming from the Scope Three air. That's the one I wanted to attack. We spoke earlier about kind of setting the ambition as high as you can go. That's the biggest area of impact.

Bret Kugelmass
So, you can go to big global brands that are tracking the lifecycle emissions of their entire supply chain and say, Hey, listen, we can help you meet your climate goals by replacing the energy source that the factories use with a clean energy source and then you can look at your clothing, your shoes and say, Listen, this is carbon free, because we went to the supply chain and we swapped out the dirty electricity with clean electricity.

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely. And it goes a bit deeper as well than that, because, although the brand is a great place to start, that's not where we should end. Nuclear is divisive at the moment. So, another big area that I'm personally able to attack are the factories. Yeah. So, there are two separate stakeholders here.

Bret Kugelmass
Let's talk about the factories more, because I love diving into industrial applications, every one of them is so nuanced. Let's get back there. Scope Three, Tier One. Do we want to talk about Tier Two and Tier Three as well?

Rickey Ruff
We were discussing the tiers. Yeah. So, Tier Two is actually the material level. That's where we're talking about spinning and dyeing.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay. Are you tied into those factories as well through your relationships?

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely. I've probably 1,000 in my Rolodex just from the years of working. I plan to target 8,000 factories, that's my market size.

Bret Kugelmass
I love the scale that you're talking about.

Rickey Ruff
Yeah, and it has to be something that we deploy at scale to make a difference.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay. So Tier One is where they're finishing the products, Tier Two is where they're working on the materials themselves, the fabrics, what's Tier Three?

Rickey Ruff
Components, we're talking like zippers and pulls, and these sort of components.

Bret Kugelmass
All right. So, what do you do? Are there clusters of these Tier One and Tier Two buildings next to each other that will pull from a common power plant? Are some of these buildings actually big enough to have their own power plant, or do they all just kind of pull from the grid individually?

Rickey Ruff
That goes into our strategy in terms of the output that we need in a factory, and then that also informs the kind of partner that we need to sort of provide that right sized power output. At the moment, my plan is to deploy a reactor per factory.

Bret Kugelmass
On-site, or have it somewhere else, and then do something across the grid to pay some fees to get the electrons there, you know, quote, unquote.

Rickey Ruff
I'm absolutely looking to deploy these on-site. However, if we look in some of the developing countries, there are the people, the factory workers - and I've set and shared meals with them and had conversations with them and really understand the deep aspects of their life - many of them live on-site, as well. So, it's actually providing them-

Bret Kugelmass
A complex.

Rickey Ruff
Exactly. Yes.

Bret Kugelmass
And these are like seasonal workers? They come from the rural areas, then they're put in some sort of dorm style accommodations when they're working the factories and they go back home, hopefully every now and then.

Rickey Ruff
For Chinese New Year, typically. They're very nice. There's been so much negative reporting on the conditions at factories, but all of the ones that I've seen, it's really an incredible opportunity to find this work if you are a worker in a developing nation.

Bret Kugelmass
That's good to hear. Because sometimes you only hear the other narrative.

Rickey Ruff
Exactly, exactly.

Bret Kugelmass
Yeah. And it's like people are choosing to move from the rural areas for reason, sometimes they don't have basic sanitation out there. I understand that they have to work pretty hard, long hours, not a lot of pay compared to what we think of in the Western world. But a lot of people are making this choice for a reason. It's probably because they have an increase in standard of living by making that choice.

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely, even 10 years ago, we're looking at a situation where issues like female empowerment, women's empowerment, right? It's shifting the paradigm in the developing world. Because, all of a sudden, these factory workers that come from their villages to work in a factory, they come work for a season, and never come back because they've made so much money that they don't have to. Now we're looking at the way households are structured, women now are the head of household, because they're the ones that are actually buying the house because they've made the money at the factory and they've gone back to their village as a semi rich, relatively speaking, person. It's that paradigm shift that I intend to use this technology as a leapfrog technology, right? If we if we talk about what happened with cell phones in Sub Saharan Africa, there was no telephone grid and they had no opportunity to build one. But because the cell phone was invented, you don't need one. So, that's what I'm looking to deploy nuclear power in the sense of. We don't need to address the old power grid, because we're creating a brand new one.

Bret Kugelmass
I love it. I mean, this is what you've identified. I love the fact that you came from outside the industry and so quickly identified so many of the same things that we did, especially these industrial applications, the smaller reactors. I mean, we can use this to revitalize the whole industry.

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely, and to your point as well - not to cut you off, sorry - it's not just about fashion. I actually went to the Aston Martin factory in Warwickshire, in western Midlands in Gaydon, in the UK, this is back 2013. I'll tell you the backstory of how that came to be, but I was at this factory-

Bret Kugelmass
I hope you got to drive one.

Rickey Ruff
Oh, absolutely, they have a racetrack. But just looking at how you manufacture a car versus manufacturing a piece of clothing, the process is very similar. And in fact, you mentioned some of the softwares before, the same PDS software that architects use to build houses is the exact same software that we use in fashion for all of our draping and pattern making. Basically, I just noticed as well, at this complex where you build Aston Martins, if we were to put a reactor there, that would absolutely replace all of their dependence on electricity as well - or sorry, their dependence on fossil fuels, replacing oil and coal and gas with nuclear power.

Bret Kugelmass
Understood, amazing. Okay, so walk me through next steps. You've got 8,000 factories in your Rolodex - or at least 1,000, you'll get to 8,000, maybe you have 8,000 - and you want to put the appropriately- you find a small reactor vendor? What do you do? Do you kind of foster the deal? Do you set up a development company or something and then you oversee the implementation? Where does your organization fit in in terms of actually implementing power?

Rickey Ruff
You're totally right, the idea is great, but now we have to get into the mechanics and the tactics of how we're actually going to make this happen. So, I'm under, at the moment, an LOI and talks with Oklo. I was so excited about Caroline and Jacob, just really, really awesome guys. And last year, it was an aspiration of mine to even meet them. So, to now be in talks with them to deploy their reactors on-site has been incredible. We're looking to again, partner with them to - and really, any reactor manufacturer that wants to help us is welcome to do so, and the industry is such that again, it's not a zero sum game, everyone is welcome here and everyone is invited to help make a difference. That's also what I was discussing with NEI, how we could also partner to move this ball forward,

Bret Kugelmass
What countries, now? So, I understand the application, I understand the technology, okay, it's like a baby reactor, or like a one megawatt or two megawatt Oklo reactor or something. That makes sense that you can kind of just pop that right next to a existing factory of some sort. But what country, because the long lead item in the tent for any thing nuclear is the licensing, getting that nuclear license. So many companies have just run against a brick wall. And it's highly country specific. Is there a good overlap between the textile, or the fashion industry factory countries and those that are open and have a framework to license new nuclear?

Rickey Ruff
If we talk about licensing, that's huge. We'd need to be able to design and operate and build. These are all the separate tiers of license. I'm actually moving to Shanghai. That's where a majority of my factories actually are. I mean, there's tons, which we talked about South Korea and Vietnam and other developing countries, right. The actual waste infrastructure is very important. I think Oklo is a great partner for us and just a great solution overall, because we're talking about a full package solution where they would actually function as the utility and help with the waste management, that full package deployment is really what it's about. But I mentioned China first, because we don't have to sort of deal with that public pushback and that public default of nuclear being nasty and dirty and unsafe, which it isn't any of those things, but the public perception is a very key factor that we're dealing with.

Bret Kugelmass
Super smart. Yeah, I love their business model, too. I think it fits well with what you're doing. With China, you mentioned Shanghai. The problem with China, as I've seen it, at least historically is, you have Bill Gates wanting to do stuff in China, too, with his company Terrapower. They invested a lot of money in making that happen, and then because of geopolitical concerns, which he knew he'd get to, that deal just got trashed. And that was beyond the control, that was way over the pay grade of any individual nuclear developer or factory. It doesn't matter who you are, if the US and China are worried about sensitive technologies and intellectual property rights, which nuclear definitely falls into, that is, to me - maybe you got another way around it - but to me, that is just like a hard hurdle to get over. There are a bunch of other Southeast Asian countries, I'm sure, that have similar style operations that are probably a little bit better geopolitically aligned with the US where you don't have that risk factor. How do you think about it under that context?

Rickey Ruff
If, in fact, we look at the United States, that's likely going to be the direct path. There are factories here. There are Tier One and Tier Two in the US.

Bret Kugelmass
You would actually sell in the US?

Rickey Ruff
To me, my business model is absolutely global. But it's about a phased approach. I'm mentioning the United States just because there are factories here and that licensing process here. I mean, we're in DC, and that's also why I'm here in DC, as well, but that is a very direct path to deploy the reactors here, as well. What I'm saying is, we're not the only market. And we're not the only people that produce carbon.

Bret Kugelmass
Are there any other good first market adopters that you have on your short list beyond China, beyond the US, that maybe- and I'm just always hung up on licensing, because so much of the work that we've done is trying to understand, Why is it so difficult to get a nuclear license? Especially since so many of these issues that you brought up are just perceived issues, they're not technical issues? The licensing bodies are supposed to be technical bodies. So, why is it so hard to get a nuclear license? I mean, NuScale has spent $600,000,000 - 10 years, essentially - going through the licensing process and then they made one small change and they have to start all over again, now. Not all over again, but probably another five years, 200, $300 million worth of investment. Where else? Have you thought about other countries where maybe getting that nuclear license is a little more tenable?

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely, absolutely. Those all sound like daunting figures and daunting timelines. I don't want to discourage anyone, I don't want to sort of paint that cloud over the solution. Because, again, I'll answer your question by saying the United States is not the only country in the world. And it's much easier in other places. If we look at Vietnam and South Korea, those would be very high up, but also they're not the only country. This is, again, a multilateral initiative.

Bret Kugelmass
I like that you brought up Vietnam, because we've looked into Vietnam a little bit. I think they've got maybe a 123 agreement with us, which is a great start to being able to do export. For Oklo's system, they fall under the Export Control Regime, so it would have to be a 123 country. South Korea, another tricky one, because they're winding down their nuclear efforts. Vietnam seems extremely promising to me and Vietnam probably fits within that target zone of the fashion industry as well, too.

Rickey Ruff
Right, a ton of awesome factories there as well. So, I also need to clarify. When I talk about the developing world, and factories in the developing world, it's not about the US exporting jobs. And it's not about cheap labor. And it's not about cheap products. These companies, these countries, are innovation ecosystems. They have the expertise. Unfortunately, that has also shifted globally. When we talk about the geostrategic conversations and geopolitics, it's also, to me, about expertise. If we talk about sonic welding and vulcanized rubber and a lot of these incredibly- even automation technologies are at factories, right? It's not about cheap labor, it's about these are the areas where the expertise lies. Phil Knight has talked about bringing manufacturing back to the United States, but those aren't jobs for people, those are jobs for machines. So, for me, I just wanted to clarify - when we talk about country, we're talking also about an innovation ecosystem. and about expertise that lies in that country for manufacturing.

Bret Kugelmass
Yeah, super cool. So, let's say that we're going to Vietnam, just for a second, so we can dig into a case study here. What do we do first? Do we? Do we line up a bunch of potential customers and then talk to the government and see if they'd be willing to be on board? You have to work with the government, right? Especially Vietnam, Vietnam's still communist, I think. So, you have to get government approvals. But does the customer come first? Or does the government come first?

Rickey Ruff
In my perspective right now, and my outlook and trajectory, immediate next steps are to speak to the customers. That is overwhelmingly positive at the moment, right? It's like, How much is it? When can I have it? Those are the two main questions that I get from customers.

Bret Kugelmass
What do the customers want to see? Do they want to sign an 18 year PPA like they do with the renewables industry, which is just like a fixed cost of electricity, or do they want to own the asset itself? And then would they want they have to put up more of the money upfront? What are the types of power off-take arrangements that you're seeing with the customers right now?

Rickey Ruff
This is something I'll definitely have to refer to our partners for. They are absolutely experts in how the financing of it works. What I can say, without divulging anything proprietary, is that the financial structures are so strong and they make perfect sense and the models are very robust. What seems impossible and incredibly expensive is actually within range when we look at all the stakeholders on the table and when we look at the impact that this will have, right. And 18 years is a long time, so we're looking at a shorter term,

Bret Kugelmass
Short term PPAs.

Rickey Ruff
Correct. It has to be proven out first.

Bret Kugelmass
When you talk about partners, do you mean partners that work for your organization? Or do you mean engineering, like EPC partners? Or do you mean like financial advisory firms?

Rickey Ruff
I mean like Westinghouse. I mean like Oklo.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay, the vendors.

Rickey Ruff
Exactly, I would call them equal partners that we're working with, alongside, for this deployment.

Bret Kugelmass
So the vendors will help put together the financing structure of the plant itself and then the customer just needs to essentially be on board with whatever you guys come up with? They need to- I assume, at the end of the day, what they care about is cost of electricity. Or do you think that they're willing to pay a premium? And if so, how much of a premium because it's clean electricity?

Rickey Ruff
I got a quote, Vaclav Smil on this. Energy, the great energy transitions that have taken place in the history of humanity, energy is getting cheaper, and more reliable, and more sustainable. These are the pillars that are required. In the model, as I inform my own structure and my own way to operate business wise, these are requirements for me. I wouldn't ask for any premiumization here. But I would imagine that the factory would also help with the lift of the cost as well, because we're offsetting their current electricity bill, so, they would certainly have to help. I did speak about the idea of government support here. At the moment, I don't want to build a model that's reliant on the government, it has to be sustainable in itself, and not only in the clean energy sense, but in the financial sense. I don't want to rely on these, let's say, external resources to prop it up. When it's strong enough, business wise, the model is strong enough to prop itself up, to drive itself really.

Bret Kugelmass
And then what do you think has to be the target cost to deliver, let's say, a megawatt hour in order to make this model work?

Rickey Ruff
This is something I also have to refer to the partners for, because again, I can't divulge anything proprietary.

Bret Kugelmass
I guess what I'm wondering is, do you have a sense right now - forget about the partners or the nuclear vendors - what are these factories in, let's say, Vietnam, paying for electricity? It's probably dirty electricity, Vietnam's probably coal. What are they paying per megawatt hour for coal, just so we get a ballpark of what we'd have to compete with?

Rickey Ruff
If we look at some of these energy structures, you're right, coal is absolutely one of the one of the premier sources and not just in the developing world, but around the world. So, there's this concept of, one of our next steps, as well, is to perform an energy audit. This is going to be on-site with the factory and actually, we have an empirical method, and basically a chance to benchmark what the energy requirements are, because again, they're different by tier, if we look at Tier One, Tier Two, Tier Three and to create those benchmarks is also a very, very immediate next step for Global Nuclear Concepts.

Bret Kugelmass
And then, do you have a sense of if- these factors run 24/7, right?

Rickey Ruff
Yes, absolutely.

Bret Kugelmass
So, that's another reason probably, that they look towards a micro reactor more, if they want to switch to clean energy, they'd look towards a micro reactor instead of solar or wind.

Rickey Ruff
Exactly. We can't be burdened by the intermittency issues. It's so, so simple to understand that the sun's not always shining, and the wind's not always blowing. However, the storage technologies are not exactly where they need to be for those to be the tenable primary sources, as well. I'm absolutely not anti-solar, and I'm not anti-wind, but the feasibility of those has a long way to go to compete with the energy outputs that nuclear is capable of.

Bret Kugelmass
Okay, so it sounds like you've got a plan. You've got some vendors, you've got some target countries. What else are we missing in this deployment strategy that you're working on?

Rickey Ruff
One of the very important factors for me at the moment, is to make sure that the public is informed, right. If we look at this country - but not just America, the global public, I mean, global citizens - need to understand the truth about nuclear. If we think about Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island, and obviously the atomic weapons, and these are like at the forefront of everyone's minds, but it's important for me to express the fact that the level of progress, and even technological progress that we've had, over the past 70 years has been just so overwhelming that some of these old risks are just inherently phased out of nuclear at the moment. It's important for me to launch a campaign really, to adjust and correct the public opinion and to really move beyond some of these historical rhetoric things that are happening in terms of the public's default about nuclear. It's important for me to tell the truth.

Bret Kugelmass
Couldn't agree more. Tell me about this media campaign? How do you do it? How do you- I mean, we've tried to work with the media sometimes to help correct some of these ideas about nuclear and, quite frankly - and maybe we're going to the wrong people, we've been going to the environmental journalists - a lot of them, though, they'll listen politely, and then they won't write a story. So it's like, what do you do to convince them to write the story?

Rickey Ruff
Well, there is a method, and there is a secret sauce. I would, first of all, like to acknowledge the complexity of the science and the complexity of fission and I have all due respect for the people that are working in this space on the technical side. I'll always take my hat off, and even bow down in some in some respects, to the scientists. However, when you begin to explain this science to the public, it's very easy to lose your audience. You're speaking over someone's head within the second sentence of your explanation. I'm standing in that gap and it's my goal to stand in that gap, to make the science comprehensible for the public, and really connect with people and very much engage with everyone. If we look at what fashion has the capability of, it's really that on-ramp, because we are all wearing clothes and we all buy clothes, and we all participate in the industry, some of us more than others. But it's so compelling, and it is so popular and so pervasive for a reason. That really is the vehicle to get that message out there, but it's also about engagement, so events. That's a big thing for me, so please stay tuned for Fashion Week, there are some great things happening.

Bret Kugelmass
When's Fashion Week?

Rickey Ruff
It's coming up at the fall of this year, the fall Fashion Week for the spring show is coming up.

Bret Kugelmass
Is this like a Paris thing?

Rickey Ruff
New York Fashion Week is what I'm targeting first. I was here in DC speaking to NEI about how we're going to partner and launch a series of these events, potentially, and for me, that's the way to drive the excitement and drive. Just this cultural revolution.

Bret Kugelmass
So cool.

Rickey Ruff
So Fashion Week is one.

Bret Kugelmass
What would happen at an event during Fashion Week that would help educate people about nuclear?

Rickey Ruff
Absolutely, I've been talking to vendors about this as well, but we're looking to again, make the-

Bret Kugelmass
-nuclear vendors or fashion vendors?

Rickey Ruff
All the above, all the above. Yes. It's, to me, about driving that excitement, because at Fashion Week, that's what it's about. That's when all the brands are selling their collections. That's when really the fashion public is getting together. This year is going to be ended with the Met Gala, Fashion Week ends with the Met Gala. I'm not sure if you guys have seen Tom Ford's latest letter on that. It's just going to be so exciting. To put nuclear in the mix of this excitement is absolutely what we're doing. And so obviously, New York is for me a big target as the United States citizen, and just the proximity to New York and my roots in New York, really - I lived on 80th and Second, I was there for 11 years like that, to me is kind of homecoming if you will - but there's Fashion Weeks all over the globe. There's one in Dubai, obviously Paris, obviously, Milan, like this is something where rolling out a campaign of events globally to really put nuclear at the center of fashion as Global Nuclear Concepts. That is our one of our first very next steps here.

Bret Kugelmass
So cool. And then are you able to leverage some of your relationships in the fashion industry? Are there any big brands that would get behind this as well and be like a co-sponsor? Like brands that I would know about,

Rickey Ruff
Not brands that I can reveal to you right now.

Bret Kugelmass
But by Fashion Week, they'll come out.

Rickey Ruff
Yeah, absolutely. Again, this is something we're in talks to develop, like at the present, like literally, today and tomorrow, and the next day, we're absolutely developing this rollout. So cool.

Bret Kugelmass
So cool. Okay, as we wrap up here today, any final thoughts you want to leave our audience with?

Rickey Ruff
I just want to express the urgency of climate change and really the relevance of the UN SDGs and I just want to talk about the practicality. You had a piece about changing the world, changing the world just got easier, right? These are all big words, and big ideas, but the mechanics of how we're actually going to make this happen is where the rubber meets the road. And that's where I'm absolutely offering a strategy here. The dreams are great. But how is the question we have to answer, and I believe nuclear energy in the deployment is the how you always have to be careful of a panacea, of a solution that will solve everything. But I'm looking for the negative sides of nuclear, and I can't find a lot of them. If we look at carbon capture technologies, and if we look at what's happening at data centers that will have high energy requirements, and if we look at even Google's data centers, all of these are applications for nuclear. The applications are limitless. And so, as Global Nuclear Concepts, as Rickey Ruff, it's my intention to find them and deploy them much in the same way that we used coal for the first Industrial Revolution. It's my intention to use nuclear for the fourth Industrial Revolution.

Bret Kugelmass
Rickey Ruff, everybody. Thank you so much.

Rickey Ruff
Thank you, guys. I really appreciate it.

Bret Kugelmass
Awesome.

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