INDEPENDENCE LED Lighting’s Management Team works 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 and Chairman of Independence LED Lighting, LLC a leading U.S. Manufacturer of high-efficiency LED tubes and fixtures that save 50% or more in energy costs over the less efficient fluorescent tubes that dominate commercial lighting. Mr. Szoradi brings multiple decades of hands on experience to the culture of sustainability and cost-savings for property design and property retrofits. He focuses on ‘high performance’ architecture, and in the early 90s he wrote his Master of Architecture thesis on sustainable design, entitled ‘Eco-Humanism’. 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 an eco-leadership role at the regional and national level. 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 Boyertown, 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 20 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. Independence LED 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. Mr. Szoradi graduated from the University of Virginia and went on to earn his Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. 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, 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, in that 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 massive 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. In 1993, the company’s founder, Mr. Szoradi completed his Masters Thesis on ‘Eco Humanism’ and secured US Patent #5,215,490 on the 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, and the invention set the stage for the development of a new generation of Educational Building Construction Sets, High Performance Concrete as well as 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. Mr. Szoradi has purchased 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 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, who is also an architect, introduced him to colleagues that were then pioneering active and passive solar powered houses. He learned that Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House, and Mr. Szoradi 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 the solar powered ship. Years later, major influences have also included working in Northern California’s bay area, working in Japan for the celebrated eco-architect Kenya Maruyama, living in Eastern Europe hubs like Budapest and Prague, and 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 and North America, and 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 a Master 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 also comes from a four generation line of patent holders, U.S. manufacturers, and innovators across the built world. 100 Years of Family Innovation
President – David Burmon
David 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.
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!
VP of 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.
VP of Business Development – 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 daughter.
VP of Corporate Strategy – Jason Green
Jason Green transformed an initial exposure to technology into a multi-faceted career working with companies all involved in some technological aspect or another. Jason initially worked within a corporate consultation practice for Sun Microsystems to both train systems engineers and architects and provide client executive management with an understanding of the business application of large technology purchases.
Exposure to the various levels of business intersecting with any given technology implementation led to work with and managing the operations of both systems and the teams managing the systems, encompassing hardware, software, storage, and networks. Learning how software worked in an enterprise environment provided an opportunity to co-found the new launch of a struggling start-up company eventually resulting in the creation of a new enterprise software solution and the ability to build a company from nothing to real, earned revenue.
The compilation of hardware (Sun Microsystems), software (PenData Solutions), and operations (Gap, Inc.) provided a strong base of knowledge and experience to both create and run managed services teams serving Fortune 2000 companies at both RagingWire and FusionStorm. Eventually a new opportunity to build a data center company arose and Jason became the first employee at Vantage Data Centers. The history of experience in information technology provided Vantage with a different perspective in both building and delivering data center solutions as an outsource model. After building up Vantage in every area of the business, save finance, Jason left to build a similar solution focus as VP of Corporate Strategy for Sentinel Data Centers based out of New York, serving a similar market in a very different geography than Vantage. Jason left Sentinel to run corporate strategy and create a data center-centric vertical for Gexpro, one of the largest electrical distribution companies in the United States, adding solutions expertise in lighting, energy, solar, and supply-chain management to Jason’s set of abilities.
Business Manager – Tyler Simays
As Independence LED’s Business Manager, Mr. Simays has multiple key responsibilities. He oversees the CRM platform and helps manage and support the reseller network. He ensures that all Sales Orders and Purchase Orders flow through the system, and he works with production on purchasing materials and determining fulfillment schedules. He assists with any RMAs and sets clear objectives for the Fulfillment Manager. Overall, Mr. Simays also helps educate customers and resellers on the Independence LED offerings.
In sport, a utility player is one who can play several positions competently. Tyler Simays is a top utility player for the Independence LED team. The Company takes pride in attracting and cultivating utility players, and Mr. Simays has proven that he is an all-star 5 tool player. Baseball has its variables that add to the excitement of the sport, and fulfillment in the dynamically changing field of play for the LED industry also has its variables that add to the excitement.
1) Hitting for Power – Innovative solutions that save time and money
2) Hitting for Average – Consistency in delivery at every turn
3) Fielding Ability – Adjusting to whatever comes at him
4) Throwing Ability – Getting the job done accurately
5) Speed – Delivering ahead of expectations
Just as hitting for power and speed don’t usually go hand in hand in baseball, innovative solutions and delivering ahead of expectations are not typically hand in hand in the workplace. This makes the multi-tool player all the more impressive. Mr. Simays also brings a very positive attitude to the field every day that exemplifies a spirit of cooperation and problem solving. Mr. Simays is a graduate of the Smeal Business College at the Pennsylvania State University with a marketing degree and an International Business Minor. He also studied abroad in New Zealand at Victoria University of Wellington, ran the Philadelphia Marathon, Volunteered at the SPCA homeless shelter, and he has served as a counselor for disadvantaged children.
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.
Market Manager – Stephen Benson
Stephen Benson is a U.S. Marine that brings to Independence LED all of the rigor, focus and commitment that is exemplary of our American fighting forces. Stephen’s Unit Assignments included: U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command: Aug. ‘07 – Aug. ‘10 and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan: Oct. ‘09 – May ’10. (Honorable Discharge – Corporal – Aug. 2010)
Stephen is able to make difficult decisions in a diverse range of situations. He has a strong background in leadership and team building and he is proficient in database software and analysis. As Independence LED continues to lead in U.S. Made LED Lighting for the American Energy Revolution, Stephen is a key soldier on our team. His focus is primarily on energy auditing and proposal development to align the most appropriate LED technology to the needs of any given application.
In addition to his military training and service, Stephen is a graduate of Syracuse University, with a B.A.in Policy Studies from The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
Account Manager – Joseph Falcone
Joe Falcone is an Operations Professional whose previous experience includes work in the Direct Marketing Industry for a Multi-Channel Merchant. With a track record of increasing productivity, operating efficiencies and profitability, Joe is always driven to reduce costs by finding creative solutions to difficult problems. Joe’s background also includes directing day-to-day operations. He has managed complex facilities relocations along with warehouse redesign and construction projects. His areas of expertise includes: Warehousing & Fulfillment, Inventory Management, Call Center Management, Customer Service Management, Staffing & Training, Facilities Management, Technology Management, Finance Management, Strategic Planning and Workflow Optimization.
Joe is a graduate of Eastern University located in St. David’s, PA. He doubled majored in Business and Accounting with minors in Economics and Political Science. In his spare time he likes to work with hands building additions, remodeling, and working on his cars. Joe has been fortunate to travel throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, over the course of his career.
Inquiries from around the world for Independence LED tubes and multi-tube fixtures have increased from one or two each month to multiple requests each week. Now, Independence LED receives daily contacts from property owners and managers as well as companies overseas that would like to distribute or co-produce the advanced LED energy saving technology. Benjamin Stammen manages the growing international demand and global expansion planning for Independence LED. Mr. Stammen is ideally suited to run the LED export business given his rigorous training in electricity and mechanics, two decades of international lighting experience, command of five languages, and legacy of European family engineering excellence.
Director of International Business Development – Benjamin Stammen
Benjamin Stammen has seventeen years of experience in senior level international operations in lighting. He worked for five years in Belgium and twelve years as Managing Director in Hungary for the category leading European company Massive Lighting (www.massive.be), now a Philips Lighting brand. Mr. Stammen developed and led their quality champion factory with more than 700 employees and 2,000 contractors. Buyers from IKEA used to order on condition “Made in Tamasi”, which was specifically Mr. Stammen’s top quality performance plant. In 2002 Mr. Stammen became a shareholder of the Massive Lighting Group. Mr. Stammen earned his Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering in Electricity and Mechanics at H.I.C. in Geel Belgium. His experience and insight into quality assurance make him a key asset for Independence LED as the company continues to develop Best in Class A-10 LED tubes.
After more than a decade of weekly flights between Brussels and Budapest, Mr. Stammen came to the U.S. to work as the Senior Project Manager for the $1.2 Billion Swiss Datwyler Group. For almost 100 years, Datwyler Group companies have stood for leading materials expertise and comprehensive process know-how. They operate worldwide with focus on serving the needs of the pharmaceutical, automotive, civil engineering and the manufacturing industries. Mr. Stammen started their new Plant in Pennsauken. N.J. and became the Plant Manager. The manufacturing experience in multiple countries gives Mr. Stammen excellent perspective and insight as Independence LED explores opportunities for sister production partnerships around the world. After consulting in green wastewater treatment and building a network over in Europe, Mr. Stammen found his way back to lighting in joining the strong management team of Independence LED. His professional experience and command of five languages adds tremendous value as the company continues to grow internationally.
Legacy of Engineering Excellence:
Benjamin Stammen carries on the legacy of engineering excellence and quality performance of his grandfather Gerard and his father Antoon. Since the early 1920s his grandfather Gerard Stammen succeeded in elevating the textile weaving process to the highest level of quality performance standards. The finest automobiles and furniture of the day included the textiles woven in the factory that he managed. Many classic Rolls-Royce Motor Cars still have their original textile lining from the celebrated Belgian factory “Tissage de Velours”. Gerard Stammen steered his high-tech factory through the difficult 1930s by continuing to innovate and lift his products up to the highest new quality standards.
In the early 1950s his son, Antoon Stammen, graduated in chemistry and applied his knowledge to textile printing. He built up to eight factories in Holland, Belgium and France. The French printing plant “Boussac” became a milestone in the leading French fashion industry. He developed his own machinery and advanced chemical applications. The multi-color, wash and sun resistant fabrics inspired iconic designers from Pierre Cardin to Christian Dior, who’s creations were chosen by First Lady Jackie Kennedy, Celebrities, and European Princesses of the day. Antoon followed in his father’s quality philosophy that Ben continues to champion: Even the best is not good enough and can be improved.
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 Management Team, Staff, Reseller Support or our U.S. Made LED Tube and LED Fixture product offerings.