LED EXECUTIVES and MANAGEMENT TEAM
INDEPENDENCE LED Executives and Management Team work in a cross-functional capacity to ensure that the Company continues to produce the most technologically advanced and cost-effective lighting products with top thermal management and quality assurance. The team focuses on STRATEGY, OPERATIONS and FINANCE to identify growth opportunities in the dynamically changing global LED Marketplace and add value for the Company’s Shareholders, Clients and growing national and international Authorized Reseller Network.
CHAIRMAN and CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER – Charlie Szoradi
Charlie Szoradi is the founder of Independence LED Lighting, the first authentic U.S. manufacturer of high-efficiency LED fixtures and a lighting solutions provider with comprehensive support services for property owners and managers. Mr. Szoradi brings multiple decades of hands on experience to sustainability and cost-savings for retrofits and new construction. He focuses on high performance architecture, and in the early 1990s he wrote his Masters of Architecture thesis on Energy Intelligence – “Eco-Humanism.” Mr. Szoradi is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and he earned his Masters from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Szoradi is a LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Accredited Professional), a Certified Building Performance Institute (BPI) Energy Auditor, and he has taken a leadership role in sustainability at the regional and national level. He is a member of the Energy and Sustainability Committee for the Society of American Military Engineers (www.SAME.org) and the Chairman of the Council of American LED Manufacturers (www.AmericanLEDmanufactuers.org). In 2009, Mr. Szoradi was elected to the Board of the Sustainable Business Network and selected as a member of the Green Economy Task Force, with direct participation on the Capitol Hill Delegation. The next year, he moved the Company’s LED tube manufacturing from China to southeastern Pennsylvania. Mr. Szoradi led the team, wrote the primary claims, and developed the key figures for the July 21st, 2011 Patent Filing for: LIGHT ENGINE DEVICE WITH DIRECT TO LINEAR SYSTEM DRIVER. The Patent file has multiple different claims and over 30 figures. In that same year, the company won the Green Business of the Year Award by the Main Line Chamber of Commerce, followed two years later with the Best Lighting Retrofit by the U.S. Green Building Council for the Urban Green Award. Independence LED Lighting has since earned the trust of facility managers and engineers across the market with installations ranging from Fortune 100 clients to the U.S. Military. The company has also provided the lights for the largest LED tube retrofit in U.S. history with over 2 miles (38 football fields) of installed energy saving tubes. From the cover profile of Inventors Digest Magazine to a speaker at the Made in America State of the Region panel, Mr. Szoradi has dedicated his career to innovation in clean energy technology.
Prior to Independence LED Lighting, Mr. Szoradi founded and ran GREENandSAVE, a leading efficiency resource focusing on Return on Investment (ROI), that was one of the finalists of the Sustainability Awards. Mr. Szoradi has always been inspired by the potential of making environmentally sensitive architecture accessible to mainstream Americans. Rather than just defaulting to techniques from 1970s technology and aesthetics, he created a platform to produce active/passive integrated systems. The design solutions focus on function, style, significant cost-savings, and environmental sustainability. Mr. Szoradi encourages the adaptive re-use of existing structures and materials, all while maintaining functionality and an overall aesthetic that appeals to the traditional as well as contemporary aesthetics. Mr. Szoradi and his wife, Cynthia, completed the renovation and a major addition to a formerly in-efficient 1950s residence that they were able to “re-use” and transform rather than tear down. The home focuses on saving money as well as the environment, and it is one of the most eco-friendly homes in America. This adaptive-reuse concept is also core to the business model of Independence LED Lighting, in that for many applications the LED tubes replace the less efficient fluorescent tubes while re-use the existing fixture housing for cost-effective results.
Mr. Szoradi is a sought-after subject matter expert and speaker on adaptive re-use and sustainable design with appearances at a diverse range of leading institutions such as the Green Building Council, Brain Reserve Think Tank, and the Wharton Business School. He has served multiple years as the Senior Lecturer at the University of the Arts, where he has created programs such as Urbitec, which focus on innovative product design through recycling and re-use. He has also been featured in a documentary film that received the Director’s Award at the Black Mariah Film Festival. The film specifically profiles his vision and follows the process of adaptive re-use in converting a 22,000 square foot abandoned church complex into a mixed-use residential and commercial property. Mr. Szoradi has also served as a consultant to the Philadelphia Office of Recycling across many years. He created the education kiosk program and the website as the cornerstone of the interactive marketing initiative.
1993 and 1994 were benchmark years that “seeded” the growth of Independence LED Lighting. In 1993, Mr. Szoradi completed his Masters Thesis and secured his first US Patent #5,215,490 on the modular building block set of tenon engaging edge connecting members. The thesis set the stage for the groundbreaking new approach to energy efficient and environmentally sustainable architecture. The invention set the stage for a new modular approach to lighting, given the patent’s focus on modular construction sets, which also led to applications in high performance concrete and structural insulated panels.
In 1994, Mr. Szoradi conceived and produced a pilot Eco-Culture/Recycling show “Fix the Hut.” The show was the culmination of over twenty-five interview segments shot across the country over a two-year period. The show focused specifically on people that had created innovative habitats, furniture, fashion, and lifestyles related to adaptive re-use and environmental sustainability. This interest in communicating through eco-education programs, speaking engagements, and media has coincided with Mr. Szoradi’s ongoing work in architecture, energy smart real estate development, and high performance lighting. Over his career, Mr. Szoradi has partnered to purchase over 200,000 sq. ft. of urban space that he has had a hand in converting from “left for ruin” factories, warehouses, and schools into mixed-use residential and commercial property. Transforming neighborhoods and salvaging urban landscape has been an integral part of overall sustainability in his career. Over the course of his energy auditing, Mr. Szoradi continued to see commercial properties with fluorescent tubes that had not been optimized for decades. He found that lighting accounted for over 25% of commercial electricity, which inspired the LED technology which now cots the wattage and cost by more than half.
Mr. Szoradi’s early inspiration to focus on sustainability came at the end of the 1970s when he sat at a young age in a gas line with his dad during the gas crisis. His father, an architect that had escaped through the Soviet iron curtain to come from Hungary to America in 1957, introduced his son to colleagues that were then pioneering active and passive solar powered houses in America. Mr. Szoradi learned from is dad that Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House, so he teamed up with two friends at St. Albans School for Boys and proceeded to build “Omega – The Boat of the Future” and subsequently won the Grade School Science Fair Popular Prize with their solar powered ship. Over extended family events, like Thanksgiving, Mr. Szoradi also learned in his childhood about his great grandfather on his mother’s side. Carl Zwermann had secured over a dozen patents of his engineering designs for what we all use and take for granted today. He invented key aspects of the “water closet” with the bowl, tank, and interior mechanics that we now call the modern toilet. His manufacturing facilities in Michigan and Illinois became key cornerstones of production in the early decades of the 1900s. The production plants also used innovative thermal management to increase efficiency in the porcelain kiln and drying processes. By the end of the 1920s, Carl Zwermann had built the family’s U.S. porcelain sanitary plant into one of the largest manufacturing facilities of its kind in the world. Years later, major influences on Mr. Szoradi have also included working in Northern California’s bay area, working in Japan for the celebrated eco-architect Kinya Maruyama, living in Eastern European hubs like Budapest and Prague, rural villages, and Amish communities that rely almost exclusively on sustainable living practices.
Over his academic and professional career, Mr. Szoradi has traveled extensively throughout Asia, Africa, Central America, North America, plus Central and Eastern Europe, where he has studied specifically how people build cost-effective and environmentally sensitive homes, commercial structures, and communities. Mr. Szoradi grew up in Washington, DC and graduated from St. Albans School for Boys. He then earned his undergraduate degree in Architecture from the University of Virginia and went on to earn his Masters of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Szoradi is a registered architect and currently lives in Greater Philadelphia with his wife, son, and daughter in their self-sustaining home.
Mr. Szoradi comes from a four generation line of patent holders, U.S. manufacturers, and innovators across the built world with 100 Years of Family Innovation.
Sample Thought Leadership:
Book Release: Mr. Szoradi’s latest book LEARN FROM LOOKING – How Observation Inspires Innovation is now available.
Chief Operating Officer – Michael Smith
Michael Smith is a seasoned, successful and visionary Chief Executive. In 2005 he accomplished what others said could not be done; forging a network of regional, independent logistics companies into one cohesive and competitive company operating under one powerful and recognized brand. With over $50 MM in annual revenues and 123 locations throughout the United States, he built America’s most recognized and successful transport packaging and logistics services company. He counts among his many national and global clients, companies such as Home Depot, International Paper, Staples and more. His strong sense of operations and order and his commitment to consistently deliver more than expected has won him the respect and admiration of businesses across the corporate landscape. He has always found savings solutions for every client he has worked with.
In keeping with his core values of waste elimination and continuous improvement, in 2012 he changed his focus from logistics to energy awareness. He combined his business experience, entrepreneurial insight and the desire to help business owners significantly reduce their energy spend and built a successful LED lighting solutions company; Round 2 Lighting. He believes in LED lighting technology and that it is not just lower cost energy but that it is free energy. Michael has actually taken Round 2 Lighting from concept to execution, growing revenues over $1 million in just 2 years. In this highly competitive marketplace where mere pennies often determine the acceptance of a proposal; Michael changes the game and focuses on innovation and service while helping business’s ‘green’ their bottom line. Michael’s strengths reach from the executive suites to back office operations and his intimate knowledge of “how things really work” has allowed him to introduce innovative systems which have simplified and revolutionized the way businesses are managed with maximum efficiencies. He is a strong people person both inside and out. His skills at building confidence is propelled by his in-depth knowledge of organizations, procurement, problem solving and leadership and the needs of a business.
Into his complex and busy life he manages to find time to remain active with his 4 children’s activities. That alone is testament to his diplomatic skills and abilities. Michael lives with his wife and 4 young children in southern New Jersey where he is an involved, admired and respected member of the local community. He also makes a mean turkey and stuffing for Thanksgiving every year, complete with all the trimmings!
Fulfillment Manager – Mary Doscher
Mary Doscher has over 20 years of experience in Office Management, Purchasing, Domestic and International Logistics and Customer Service. Mary’s ability to accurately track the flow of orders and products from production to customer site has led to consistent on time deliveries and high customer satisfaction. Her ability to multi-task and adapt solutions to changing schedules and needs has allowed her to assure a smooth flow of orders through the system.
Prior to joining Independence LED, Ms. Doscher spent 14 years in a machinery manufacturing company working in Office Management, Purchasing, Logistics, R&D, and Customer Service. She has worked with customers and vendors in over 20 countries in North America, Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East. She has designed inventory procurement and control systems to keep production moving and minimize delays. Her experience in assembly, creating technical drawings, writing technical manuals, and Research and Development give her a better understanding of the manufacturing process.
Ms. Doscher graduated from Lawrence University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics and Religion. She has taught Fencing for over 10 years at a local charter school. She lives with her daughters and is an active member of the local community.
Account Executive – Ivan Zahemski
Ivan Zahemski has been at the forefront of renewable technology for the past 20 years. Specializing in LED lighting for the last 8 years, he was one of the founders of Vanguard Energy Services, LLC – an LED lighting integrator in the New York tri-state area. Ivan has personally managed the sales, specification and implementation of over 500 LED projects from Boston to Baltimore.
Ivan is a thought leader in the LED industry, bringing his vast field experience to manufacturers in the development of some of their highest selling products. Being a first-to-market sales organization leader, he was both an innovator and a disruptor of the already challenging traditional lighting market in the quest to convert the world to “greener” energy-saving LED technology.
Through working together on a number of projects with Independence LED over the years, Ivan developed a deep respect for the company’s mission, vision and values, and the company developed a deep respect for his capabilities. When conditions made the move mutually beneficial, an agreement was made, and now Ivan is putting his considerable talents to work as a part of the Independence LED team.
When taking the occasional breather from the work he loves, Ivan spends time with his wife, his daughter and his dog whom he loves almost as much as a real child. He enjoys cooking, baking, and listening to music. He loves to travel to places with palm trees and white sandy beaches, and plans to live in one of those places one day.
Account Executive – Carolyn Woodruff
Ms. Woodruff has over 23 years of experience in lighting products and solutions. Her experience includes inside and outside sales for electrical distribution, inside quotations for a lighting manufacturer, and lighting systems auditing for a Philadelphia based retrofit contractor.
Over the years, Ms. Woodruff has gained tremendous perspective having seen first-hand the many different transitions and shifts in equipment used in lighting systems. Her passion for energy reduction through lighting systems was sparked in the late 90’s, and that passion has driven her to build ongoing education around lighting systems and supporting products. Finding solutions for facilities supervisors has included reducing energy costs as well as reducing labor costs. Her work takes her above and beyond typical lighting service providers, because she not only provides the most cost-effective products needed to fit any given application, but she also educates distributors, representatives, and facility supervisors on long term solutions.
Account Manager – Ryan Mitchell
Ryan Mitchell is an energy professional with a profound interest in intelligent, sustainability solutions. His commitment dates back to his leadership role as the president of the Environmental Science Club at Eastern University.
As an Account Manager for Independence LED Lighting, Ryan has multiple key responsibilities. He manages the increasing flow of accounts in the company’s agriculture line of LED Grow Lights for both indoor commercial farming as well as the education verticals. On the academic front, the company’s Grow Lights and the accompanying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) curriculum programs range from charter schools to universities. In many cases the academic institutions express interest in Independence LED Lighting’s line of US made building illumination technology, and Ryan runs point on the school accounts as well as other relationships outside of the agriculture market. Ryan also oversees the growing roster of interns that have expanded recently from summer support staff to year round programs. In sports, a utility player is one who can excel at multiple different aspects and rise to meet challenges. Ryan is a former college athlete and a top utility player on the Independence LED team. From research to presentation reports and from trend articles to competition analysis, Ryan performs with agility, tenacity, and attention to detail. Ryan also brings a very positive attitude to the field every day that exemplifies his spirit of cooperation and problem solving.
Ryan is a graduate of Eastern University, located in St. David’s, PA, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Political Science. At Eastern University, Ryan was president and founder of Eastern’s Environmental Science Club, a member of the Leadership Fellows Program, and in the Political Science Honor Society. Along with that, he was a four year member of the men’s lacrosse team where he won four conference championships and received all conference honors his sophomore and senior year. Through his experiences at Eastern, he developed a great passion for sustainability and urban agriculture which can be seen in his work today.
Engineering – Glenn Baker
Glenn Baker has over 25 years of experience as a project leader and technical innovator on cutting edge technology. He understands the meaning of meeting customer requirements and has had a history of rapid promotion leading to full responsibility for development, implementation, operations, and support of company products. Mr. Baker takes a hands-on approach and is highly results oriented. He has been an Engineering Leader and Program Manager from R&D to production for complex optical, electronic, and mechanical equipment in the medical, commercial, military or industrial markets. His specialties include, Product Development, Technology Development, Program Management, Manufacturing, and Systems Engineering.
In addition to authoring multiple lighting patents individually and jointly, Mr. Baker brings to Independence LED a depth of LED lighting experience. Prior to joining Independence LED, Mr. Baker was the Director of Solid State Lighting (SSL) Engineering for Dialight, the New Jersey based Public Company with 1,000 employees. For the electronic manufacturing company, Mr. Baker managed optical, electrical, mechanical engineering resources and programs to develop and transition to production of advanced LED luminaries. Mr. Baker was the VP of Engineering for BWT Lighting where his responsibilities included overseeing the engineering to Design, Develop and Manufacture specialty LED light sources for government and commercial applications. As Independence LED rolls out its American Made LED Tubes and Multi-Tube Fixtures on the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule for Q4 2012, Mr. Baker’s government experience adds value across the significant public sector opportunity. Over his career, Mr. Baker has also served as the Director of Product Development for Light Path Technologies and the Engineering Manager for Cogent Light.
Mr. Baker is a graduate of Stevens Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Engineering in Engineering Physics. He earned his Master’s of Science in Applied Optics from Tufts University. Mr. Baker’s overall experience and perspective in the LED and lighting sector is a key asset as Independence LED strives to continue providing advanced lighting products and leadership in the global energy reduction marketplace.
Account Director Western Operations – Dean Vaganos
Dean Vaganos brings energy intelligence with first-hand experience in lighting and renewable power to Independence LED and its customers. Dean’s sustainable business experience includes LED and Induction lighting, Energy Services Companies (ESCO), Energy Auditing, and Sales. He also has added perspective on energy reduction from his work in Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar leasing, at the beginning of his career. In addition to performing expert energy audits and lighting analysis, he has worked with utility companies and local city rebate programs in multiple states, and he is familiar with Lighting as a Service (LaaS). Dean has managed product procurement and vendor selection through bid processes as well as educated property/ business owners on the transition impact of traditional lighting, dating back to the early T12 phase out. Dean’s prior experience has included working with: Energized Solutions Americas, Golden Efficiency Group, Energy Efficient Systems, Inc, and Ideal Lighting Solutions.
Dean is a graduate of Fairfield University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science, with a Major in Marketing, and Minor in Environmental Studies, after studying at the University of Vermont – Rubenstein School of Environmental Studies. He is an outdoor enthusiast with a love of sailing, surfing, and snowboarding. For Independence LED, Dean runs point on western US accounts out of Denver, CO and typically spends a week or more each month traveling and working with the management and operations team at the company’s Greater Philadelphia headquarters.
Lighting Solutions, New York Metro Market – Brian Sokolow
Brian Sokolow has over 15 years experience in the advertising, franchise brokerage and energy efficiency sectors. Brian’s creative problem solving skills combined with his ability to develop effective marketing strategies have resulted in an accomplished track-record of helping companies in the lighting retrofit, Internet advertising, and franchise development field grow revenue and expand into new markets.
Prior to joining Independence LED, Mr. Sokolow spent the previous five years in various sales, marketing, and management roles with a value added reseller of turnkey lighting retrofit projects and energy efficiency software. During that time, Mr. Sokolow developed multiple lead generation platforms and marketing campaigns to acquire new business. He also built and managed an inside sales department from the ground up as part of a pilot program targeting new business opportunities for lighting and other energy conservation measures in partnership with one of the nation’s largest electrical distributors.
Mr. Sokolow graduated Magna Cum Laude from Temple University’s Fox School of Business with a double major in Finance and Real Estate. He also holds two Associate of Science degrees from Colorado College in Wilderness Para-Medicine and Outdoor Leadership. While living in Colorado, Brian held certifications for Class V swift water rescue from Rescue III International, as well as avalanche rescue certifications from the National Ski Patrol. Brian currently resides in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania with his wife and two children.
Strategic Advisor – Rasul Damji
Rasul Damji is a growth and transformation executive creating and executing cutting-edge strategies capitalizing on emerging and untapped markets. He has a proven track record of accelerating growth and profitability at multiple firms requiring innovation, intelligent use of resources, business process improvement, and cultural reinvigoration. At Raritan, GovXcel, AT&T, and Lucent, he led multinational teams ranging from 20 to 1000 individuals ($5 – 350m) within telecom, data centers, manufacturing, and software sectors. Collaborating with company boards, private equity investors, and senior leaders, he developed strategies, adapted business models, integrated acquisitions, and instituted operating plans, creating value realized by the sale of two companies, and the sustained growth of several others. Rasul earned both BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from Boston University and an MBA in Finance & Leadership from NYU Stern.
Strategic Advisor – Eric Kainer
Eric Kainer is a technology-savvy finance & marketing professional, with experience on Wall Street as a research analyst and investment banker, an engineer in core R&D, and a sales & business development professional for technology businesses. Eric earned his triple-major MBA from Wharton in Strategy, Operations, & Public Policy; and his BSE from UConn in Computer Science & Engineering. Along with other awards, Eric won Briefing.com’s “Call of the Week” in May 2008, and has been a featured speaker and panelist at numerous trade shows, publishing hundreds of reports
Customer Financing Advisor – David Burmon
Business owners and property managers across the public and private sectors increasingly see the energy savings and operational advantages of LED lighting. In many cases they do not have the resources at hand or budgeted for an LED retrofit, so Independence LED is pleased to offer a $0 upfront cost programs that range from financing to Lighting as a Service (LaaS) structures.
David Burmon has been an entrepreneur since 1990 when he formed The Walden Asset Group, an equipment leasing company. While remaining active in the leasing business he has branched out into a variety of consultancies focused clearly in the energy efficiency space. Having a law degree has helped in the mastery of documentation and a broad knowledge of the verging needs of parties to any transition. Specifically, Walden grew to be a $110,000,000 company prior to its sale as part of a roll up IPO in 1998. That investor later sold the company back to the original owners as part of the failure of the larger venture, and Walden continues servicing its clients today. In the energy space David has consulted with several European EPC’s and has arranged financing for over 10MW of solar. Additionally he has helped a founder find traction for software serving the state Weatherization Assistance Program as both sale/business development as well as providing contracting assistance. In all of his endeavors David has maintained a keen understanding of partnering relationships necessary to serve the markets he is involved in as well as the obvious necessity of compliance.
In the LED market there is a clear need to win by providing deal structure far more importantly than having the lowest priced lights. Solution selling coupled with an understanding of customers has allowed Walden to finance over $750,000,000 in equipment over the years and, more importantly, to do repeat business consistently.
Inquiries from around the world for Independence LED tubes and multi-tube fixtures have increased as the global appetite for reliable and cost-effective energy efficient lighting increases.
International Strategic Business Advisor – Robert Dornau
Robert Dornau has significant global perspective on energy and sustainability, having traveled to over 50 countries across his professional career. Mr. Dornau has held executive positions as well as personally holding training workshops. His understanding of different cultural nuances has been essential in his success to motivate people and develop meaningful business relationships. As CEO of Carbonflow, Mr. Dornau provides its clients with an excellent understanding of all aspects of the carbon market, in which he has participated in different professional roles since 1999. From 2006-2009, Mr. Dornau was Vice President at SGS, heading the SGS Climate Change Programme to become the leading Green House Gas (GHG) verification company. SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. They are recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 75,000 employees, they operate a network of more than 1,500 offices and laboratories around the world.
From 2004-2005 Robert was an independent carbon market consultant, with clients including the Endesa Climate Initiative, the trading platform NewValues, and the World Bank, for which he worked as conference director of CARBON EXPO. Between 2001 and 2004, Mr. Dornau was manager of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). He was elected to the IETA Board in his capacity at SGS in 2008. Before working for IETA he worked as Project Manager for Deutsche Börse Group, as one of the first advocates of emission trading in Germany. Mr. Dornau has a Master’s Degree in economics from the University of Konstanz, Germany. He also has several publications in refereed journals and participated in numerous conferences as speaker or chair.
(Please call 484-588-5401 or Contact Us for more information on the Independence LED Executive and Management Team, Staff, Reseller Support or our U.S. Made LED Fixtures and Turnkey Commercial LED Lighting Solutions.