Winner by a solar light
Appeal Staff Writer
Doug Eckery spends most of his time in his car. So, it’s fitting that the idea that won his team top honors at the recent business plan competition at the University of Nevada, Reno is an accessory for weekend warriors.
The 37-year-old Carson City man hopes this award will illuminate his career, as well as the cargo carriers of ski and snowboard bums.
Eckery’s life reflects what it takes to get to the top for any Nevada family. He’s been going to school part time while working full time at GE Optimization Controls in Minden. That meant studying at Western Nevada Community College for as long as he could and then transferring to the engineering school at UNR.
Eckery has spent five years commuting to Reno for classes. Life became more joyous – but more crazy – with the arrival of twin boys, Brock and Graeme. Sleep may be scarce, but comfort comes with the certainty of a better future for his family.
How do you balance career, school and yet see your boys?
I get up at about 3:45 a.m. I don’t get to see my boys in the morning. My wife, Katrina, does the morning routine and I get on the road to work. I start my work day at about 5 a.m. after working out. I’m the only person in the building, except for the manufacturing workers. Then on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I drive to Reno for my class. This is my last class before graduating with my degree in mechanical engineering. I go back to work from 1-5 p.m. I then go home and play with my boys and put them down. Graeme is a people person, he’s very outgoing. Brock is more independent, even at 3 years old.
Why did you enter the 2007 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition?
In my entrepreneurial class we are broken up into teams and my team decided to do it. We brainstormed ideas for products. We had a list of 22 to start, including a solar panel collector for an iPod Shuffle and a shower back scratcher. One of the ideas I came up with is what we went with.
What idea did you team create a business plan for?
It’s called CarGlow and the idea is that it’s a lighting system for a cargo carrier that sits on top of a car and stores outdoor equipment. There’s a flexible solar collector on top that molds to the top of the carrier to keep an aerodynamic form. That charges the battery. Once the carrier is opened the light is activated. So, in the middle of the night while camping if you have to go to your car you don’t have to stand on your door jam and try and hold your flashlight while fishing around inside the carrier. The lighting strip is about two feet long so you can see all inside of the carrier. Our product came in third place.
Is your team taking the product all the way?
Probably not because we’re all splitting up. One of my team members is from Japan and is going back, others are still students. Two of us already have jobs in the industry. We’re splitting up the prize money.
What are you going to do with your share of the $5,000?
I’m going to do something with my family. Something small with today’s gas prices.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.
If you go
What: University of Nevada, Reno class of 2007 graduation
When: 8:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: University Quadrangle