CI Works is often underestimated in its potential to help scale-up manufacturers turn prototypes to product sales. This is a case study of one tenant that illustrates the value equation offered. Solais Lighting started with an 800 square foot lab and progressed to a $15 million sale.
Solais Lighting- was a small LED specialty lighting scale up business in need of a product and lighting technology development lab. They needed to be able to develop, refine, customize, and evolve their new energy saving technology without extensive real estate costs devouring their burn rate as they evolved to product sales. Solais leased eight hundred square feet of electronics lab space, carefully managed their burn rate, and grew and diversified product sales. As other LED providers moved to chase the high volume / low cost end of the market, Solais stuck with the high quality space – such as museums, high end retail stores, supermarkets, and commercial customers. That business has since grown extensively and their product line has diversified…but they continue to own high quality LED space and have developed customized product versions for select customers. This is also known as the high margin end of the market – where profits and jobs evolve. According to Steve Johnson, CTO and Newburyport resident: "Solais chose this area of Massachusetts for a lab location because of the lighting experience and expertise resident here. When you are developing high quality products, extensive expertise is required to design, refine, and test."
Solais attempted to grow and expand operations in Massachusetts, approached various state government agencies for support after receiving venture capital seed funding, and were fast approaching profitability. They shared their financial information and projections and committed to creating and keeping jobs in Massachusetts. The various agencies all agreed the business was viable, financials were solid, projections reasonable, but nobody seemed to know what an LED actually was and declined commitment. Connecticut did understand what LED’s are and provided financial support to the company in the form of a loan guaranty. Solais Lighting’s manufacturing and product fulfillment operations were established in Connecticut in a new 150,000 square foot facility with over one hundred new jobs were created in Connecticut.
The story gets even better – Solais was acquired by Power Secure in 2013 for $15 million dollars and is now the production and quality control center for additional LED product lines also acquired by Power Secure. The Solais management team is now the PowerSecure LED lighting division management team. Power Secure is now the fastest growing and technologically relevant LED lighting manufacture in the United States and by holding on to the high end customer base, profitable. And, it all started with an eight hundred square foot lab.
At CI Works, it is our goal to work with tenant businesses to achieve success!