When Okemos resident Mike Mosholder designed his portable solar-powered submersible light, he never imagined it would end up assisting in the relief efforts in Haiti. In fact, the product was originally intended as a cost-effective way to add lighting to existing in-ground pools – luxury items to be sure, but ones in need of greening. After five years of research and development at Mikeâ€™s Lansing-based company, The Gadget Factory, Mike attributes the project completion to recent advances in solar and LED technology. So how did this cool, eco-luxury light become a useful tool in a natural disaster?
First, the product’s capabilities. Using LED lighting and solar technology, the Ultimate Lite is an eco-friendly, sustainable way to provide a light source. For every full day of sun, the batteries can reclaim up to two hours of run time. It is also light-weight, portable and waterproof, perfect for working in any environment. The earthquake left Haiti strewn with concrete rubble difficult for rescuers to navigate. Large areas have been left without electricity, so Mosholderâ€™s sun-powered lights seemed the perfect solution.
A friend of Mike’s made the connection and suggested collaborating with Michigan’s International Aid (IA). IA is a faith-based humanitarian nonprofit that has worked in Haiti for many years. Following the earthquake, IA began acquiring supplies to send with volunteer teams to Haiti’s disaster zone. Mosholder says, “…my friend volunteers with (IA) because itâ€™s a local organization with global reach. I believe strongly in giving back, and they were in need of tools to work in areas where electricity was out.”
After seeing the benefits and capabilities of the Ultimate Lite, IA asked to purchase 200 units for their teams going to Haiti. While Mike’s first instinct was to donate all of the lights, his business is its infanc,y and he needed to be mindful of his own budget and bottom line. Mike decided to discount the purchase so significantly that 120 of the 200 were actually donated, an $11,000 value.
Mike employs six people at The Gadget Factory in a 9,000 sq. ft. facility at 5157 Aurelius Rd. Once the Ultimate Lites are tested in Haiti, Mike will be adding significantly to his local workforce. Mike says new eco-products for humanitarian work are already in conceptual stages and while he will continue to market the lights for swimming pools, he is committed to getting his products to those with urgent needs. â€œI truly believe that this (disaster relief) is theâ€ higher purposeâ€ of my invention. To be able to impact peopleâ€™s lives in such a way makes me proud and elated!â€
Mr. Mosholder is a client of The Sweaty Mouse, which is owned and operated by Ms. Slayter.