Thursday Merchant: Light supplier riding green wave of success
Sometimes you don’t know where a business is going to lead you.
For Mary Wecker, the idea to sell accessories for pilots ended up creating The LED Light, a Carson City company that markets a large range of products using energy-efficient LEDs.
In 1997, Wecker started Pilots Web, selling items like noise-
canceling headphones and pilot manuals. Then one little flashlight changed everything.
“A salesman came along and showed us a colored light that pilots could use in the cockpit without losing their night vision,” Wecker said. “We bought about $500 worth of these flashlights, and before we knew it, we were selling more of these than anything else.”
Shortly thereafter, a name change to LED Light made it
LEDs, which stands for light-emitting diodes, were invented in Russia in the 1920s, and are now exploding in popularity because of their compact, energy-efficient nature and long life. An LED light can operate on about 5 percent of the energy needed by a standard incandescent light bulb, and last about 50 times longer. Even compared to the new compact fluorescent lights, an LED wins in energy conservation and lifespan, and does not contain the mercury found in florescent lights.
The need for green technology is pushing a lot of sales for Wecker’s company.
“Everyone wants to say we are in a recession, but we are hiring, not laying off,” Wecker said. “And there’s so much of a green energy mindset today that people are paying attention and developing interest in it, when two years ago they didn’t know what an LED was.”
The versatility of LED has led to a huge number of products using the technology. In their warehouse facility on Fairview Drive, General Manager Jim Ward has a variety of different lights hooked up for testing and display purposes, everything from a simple white LED for lighting a room, to a strip of small LEDs that can be taped on any surface and can change colors from red to green to blue.
For instance, there is a motion-activated security light that runs on batteries and can be used anywhere where electricity and wiring are a problem.
“Jim’s job is to stay on the alert for new cutting-edge products and improvements on existing products,” Wecker said. “Things change boom-boom in this industry. Besides helping customers with sales, that’s our main focus these days, just keeping up with the changes.”
The initial cost of LED lights are more, but they pay for themselves over time with lower and replacement costs, Ward said.
LEDs are now available for standard room lighting as well. Wecker said that the white LED light was the last color to be developed, and that the current models are much improved over earlier versions that produce a very bluish light.
LED Light has ready-to-use lighting products and all the components for do-it-yourself types to build their own light creations.
While about 90 percent of the company’s sales are over the Internet or from commercial customers, Wecker said more local people are showing up at their warehouse.
“We have been reaching out to let folks in Carson City know that we are here, and they can come here and buy LED products,” Wecker said.