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 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
SVP of DEVELOPMENT - Don Kane
Don Kane has over 30 years of senior operational and entrepreneurial experience. His diverse background includes alternate energy solutions, real estate, property management, franchising, broadcasting, technology and new media companies. He is most comfortable in emerging industries, and his efforts have built organizations achieving over $1 Billion in sales volume. During the energy crisis of the 1970’s, Mr. Kane recognized the need for alternate sources and more efficient utilization of existing energy sources. As a principal in Alternate Energy Industries of Rhode Island, he championed the use of solar energy in domestic hot water applications and passive energy efficient building design and retrofits.
As Divisional Vice President of a major national broadcasting company, he managed the migration of existing radio stations from the AM radio band to the superior FM radio band. His focus included the repurposing of the AM stations to news/talk formatting more suitable to the AM band as a response to the emerging technology. As COO in the technology arena, Mr. Kane guided the process of developing product improvements from conception to final test while continuing to deliver product to hundreds of existing customers without interruption during the transition from old to new. While developing and organizing an innovative major property management/services network of over 100 companies in Southern California, he successfully implemented the first consumer protection program with the California State Contractors Licensing Board involving the contractor community. In 36 months, the network achieved 70% brand recognition among Los Angeles/Orange County consumers.
Mr. Kane has a history of creatively structuring business relationships in which all parties participate in the win. The overall LED industry is emerging with variable costs, benefits, complexity and quality, and Mr.Kane helps provide perspective and clarity for Independence LED’s Authorized Resellers and End Users. In this period of rapid evolution in which products, services and delivery continue to morph, Independence LED and Mr. Kane share agility and a pioneering spirit. American made products are also ideally positioned to capitalize on the opportunities presented by this emerging industry to better serve all of Independence LED’s constituents across the public and private sectors. Mr. Kane enjoys spending time with his wife of 41 years, Lorraine, and their two children and three grandsons.
VP of FINANCE - Gretchen Yankanich
Gretchen Yankanich has over two decades of experience in finance and management consulting. Over the course of her career, she has worked as a CFO and also provided Consulting for Group Instruction and Training and CPE Credit Instruction. Mrs. Yankanich has experience in a range of business sectors from Consumer Goods to Business Equipment, from Health Care Medical Equipment to Industrial Metal Fabrication, from Small Tools & Accessories to Environment Consultants, and from Mortgage Investment to Real Estate Development. This breadth of experience is key for Independence LED Lighting as it relates to the company’s LED equipment manufacturing and role in optimizing operating costs within the Real Estate sector.
From 2004 to 2009, Mrs. Yankanich served as the Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Controller for IVY WALLS MANAGEMENT CO., LLC, & MARSH VIEW ASSOCIATES, Inc., the Berwyn, PA based Holding Companies in focused on Service, Technology, Finance, Materials. She was the executive managing $100M+ in private equity business assets, resulting in a 65% increase in overall earnings during her tenure. Her work included serving as the lead advisor/negotiator on M&A activity and financial due diligence. She provided strategic analysis and tax planning strategies, and directed and reengineered the finance process, controls, and policies. She reported on risk management strategies at corporate and business asset levels. She also developed revenue, margin and cash management strategies, managed corporate, treasury, tax matters and the inter-company allocations. Mrs. Yankanich administered $11M in corporate bonds & other debt instruments. She directed all capital and operating budgets for regulatory and external audits. Mrs. Yankanich also prepared the consolidated financial statements, routine internal audits, and provided leadership to 6 senior managers, 4 direct reports and indirect oversight of 80 employees.
Prior to working with IVY WALLS, Mrs. Yankanich was the Chief Financial Officer and Controller for HUMAN CAPITAL SOLUTIONS, LLC, a West Chester, PA based technology company. She was the also the CFO at JOBNET.COM, INC. , and prior to her roles as CFO, she worked as an Accountant and Tax Preparer for BRANDYWINE OUTFITTERS, MCFADDEN & CO., CPA’s, and KERRIGAN, ROWAN & JOHNS, based out of Exton and West Chester, PA. Mrs. Yankanich earned her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Pennsylvania State University and also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production.
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.
Director of Eastern Region Sales and Business Development - Meade Hinton
Meade Hinton brings over 20 years of experience in both sales and business development on the distribution, management and integration sides of the business. Mr. Hinton has been part of the Mid Atlantic and Northeastern landscape for the last 18 years with his experience coming from the High Tech industry in the telecommunications hardware, software, and medical device sectors. He has worked with many cutting edge companies that have fostered innovation. Meade is an entrepreneurial, innovative, and creative business development executive with broad-based expertise in all facets of sales, marketing, public relations, and account management. He brings a critical methodology to understanding customer behavior that has helped his companies deliver tailored solutions that have met and exceeded customer satisfaction and retention.
Prior to joining Independence LED, Mr. Hinton was the Mid Atlantic Business Development Manager for Vu Telepresence, a leading manufacturer of video conferencing hardware. During his tenure, he helped build a channel reseller network as well as working with end users in the Fortune 2000 market and was instrumental in growing market share from zero to 8% internationally. After successfully working for seven years in Philadelphia with DePuy Orthopedics, a division of Johnson and Johnson, Mr. Hinton became the owner of OHMM Holding Group, Inc. which controlled one of the largest independent franchises in the retail specialty market, based in suburban Philadelphia. He successfully sold this business in 2008.
Mr. Hinton holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and English from the College of Charleston and enjoys spending time with his three children in Wayne, PA. His leadership, technical and overall sales experience is a key asset in the ongoing development of the distribution network for Independence LED across the U.S. and the growing international marketplace.
Director of Western Region Sales and Business Development - John Carolla
John Carolla brings over 20 years of experience in both sales and operations on the manufacturing, distribution, and integration sides of the business. Mr. CArolla has been part of the Silicon Valley landscape for the last 16 years with his experience coming from the High Tech industry in both the hardware and software sectors. He has worked with many of the cutting edge technologies and the companies that have fostered innovation over the years.
Mr. Carolla has been a principle in numerous start-up companies, where he has been responsible for both the sales and operational development in existing and emerging market throughout North America. Prior to joining Independence LED, Mr. Carolla's most recent start-up was in 2006 with Telenet, based in Pleasanton, California. Mr. Carolla built a sales organization that went from zero to over an $8 Million annual run rate by the end of the third year of business. Mr. Carolla accomplished this benchmark by opening seven offices in six states over the first three years.
Prior to Telenet, Mr. Carolla was the Western Region Sales Director for Worldcom’s CPE business. He built a world-class sales organization that was responsible for increasing annual sales from $11 Million in 1999 to well over $65 Million annually by 2005. Mr. Carolla is a graduate of Waynesburg University, with a Bachelors of Arts and Science degree in both Business Management and Psychology. His technical and overall sales experience is a key asset in the ongoing development of the distribution network for Independence LED throughout North America and beyond.
Senior Account Manager – Carrie Kaltwasser
Client Services Manager - Tyler Simays
Fulfillment Manager – Chris McMeekin
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.)