The Greentrepreneur: LA LED

staff-daniel“Do you want to be a company that helps your community, or do you want to contribute to the growing waste our cities produce?” asks Daniel Henderson, CMO of LA LED.

This month’s spotlight features Louisiana’s one and only LED lighting manufacturer.  Whether you are looking for the integrity of a light bulb, or the integrity of an individual – contact LA LED.  Unlike many other lighting companies, LA LED cuts through the red tape, the cheap talk, and the short cut solutions, bringing you the highest quality services and products that are guaranteed to last.

Read on as we interviewed Daniel Henderson who recently represented LA LED while giving testimony to the Louisiana Public Service Commission before their vote on energy efficiency rules for our state. Congratulations Daniel and LA LED for being a true business leader of the 21st Century.

What are some of your proudest moments as the leader of LA LED?

Our CEO Robert Owens founded this company and has sacrificed more than I can go into to get us to where we are today. He is the visionary and leader of our team. Robert has a unique ability to discern the individual talents and weaknesses within individuals and has built a team that works together to build a great company. LA LED is comprised of our CEO Robert Owens, our Director of Operations Eli Konieczka, our Administrative Executive Victoria Cormier, our lead designer Caleb Brown and myself, Daniel Henderson as CMO.

In my three and a half years with LA LED there have been many ups and downs as I’m sure most young companies go through, but I believe my proudest moment was most recently when I was asked to speak before our state commissioners and discuss the importance of energy efficiency in Louisiana. I have never considered myself any type of public speaker and to not only be asked but to act on it and not fail was a good moment for me and I was proud to represent LA LED as well as everyone else in Louisiana who will benefit from a reasonable energy efficiency standard.

LA LED logoHow does your organization go about improving your social and environmental impacts?

On the face of it we manufacture LED lights which reduce the use of electricity, last ten to twenty times longer than traditional lights, are recyclable, reusable and produce a negligible amount of heat by product. It is a healthier light source, a safer explosion proof light source and it is a light we can begin building in the US in the near future and create jobs in our local communities.

Through LED we have the potential of reducing our dependance on foreign oil, creating jobs in other industries as their electrical savings will result in more profits they retain and thus more jobs they can create. In addition, our low cost line of Eco lights are a great way to reduce electrical consumption in public housing, schools and government buildings, allowing more monies that go into these institutions to be used in more efficient ways than simple lighting.

How was LALED involved in the recent Louisiana Public Service Commission’s vote on Energy Efficiency rules? How do these rules benefit your company?

Casey Roberts with the Alliance for Affordable Energy called me to get my input on the vote. We talked for awhile and she asked if I would be willing to speak before the commission. Of course I said yes and yet the reality that I would be speaking before the commission did not sink in that night. I am very grateful I had such little time to prepare and even more grateful to Casey for asking me to be there.

The benefit of the energy efficiency rules really depends on how they ultimately get written. I know Commissioner Angelle switching to yes then saying he was for modification caused some confusion, but I believe he is making the right decision in taking a good look at how these rules are written and what goes into these rules. I hope to have some input with Commissioner Angelle on my own opinions on what I have seen work in other states.

On the one hand, just creating an energy efficiency standard in Louisiana will greatly improve our business locally. It will educate and brand efficient products and get decision makers in small to large companies as everyday citizens talking about ways to save money which is a good thing. The less we spend as individuals on electricity, the more we have to spend on food and products which drive our economy.

LPSCOn the other hand if we copy some states and especially Canada and adopt Energy Star as the defacto standard it will end up hurting us more than helping,  It certainly will still help brand our product and what we do, but from our industry perspective the Energy Star standards are obsolete. They take a year of testing to get certified and give an unfair advantage to the large companies we compete with, who are sticking with the three year obsolescence plan for light bulbs.

Because we build lights that last 15-25 years depending on use, we actually are penalized by Energy Star when we go to get our lights tested. It typically takes a full year to test and certify our lights because they last so long. To put this in perspective we upgrade the guts of our lights on a quarterly basis. This means the light we sent off last month for certification, the Black Tie R30 (10 watts to produce 80 watts), will be four generations obsolete by the time it is certified. I feel confident that given the market it will still be very competitive, however it is a disservice to individuals who would rather get a rebate on a light that lasts 20 years than get a rebate on a similarly priced light that will only last three years.

We could always build lights and design them to break earlier in order to get them to market sooner but this defeats everything we stand for and takes away the LED market we are trying to create.

What partnerships have you formed in order to leverage sustainable impact as an organization?

We of course are members of Life City, have worked with the Alliance for Affordable Energy, are partnering with the Acadiana Dark Skies chapter and the Sierra Club. In addition, the Chamber of Commerce in Lafayette has been very helpful.  Robert is a member of Leadership Lafayette and they have been supportive, and I have reached out to State Rep Stephen Ortego, State Senator Rick Ward, State Commissioner Angelle, Lafayette City-President Joey Durel, US Senator David Vitter and US Rep Charles Boustany. All of these individuals have helped, contributed, and have been outstanding in supporting us to build a strong company in Louisiana.

If you had a magic wand to change one thing that would make it easier for your organization to go green, what would that thing be?

Simple, make recycling for commercial buildings in lafayette parish easier. Right now we put recycling in plastic bins, I bring them to my home, then the city picks it up. Residential recycling in Lafayette has been great, but we need more support for commercial. The reality is if it is not easy, most people will not do it. We are literally throwing away money by not making commercial recycling easier.

What advice would you give to other organizations or businesses who are trying to improve their internal practices to benefit their city and state?

Do it because it is something you believe in.  Think about what you throw away. Think about where it goes. Then decide do you want to be a company that helps your community or do you want to contribute to the growing waste our cities produce.

Anything else you would like to tell our community of Green Card members and Green Businesses?

Yes, before you pickup an LED at your large big box store think about where it was made. Think about who made it, what went in it. If something goes wrong can you reach someone at that company. The reality of LED today is the machines live in Asia so they are made in Asia. If they are stamped “made in america” it’s only one machine printing a wafer. It is not the real labor, the real engineering, the real design that is being done locally. Our lights may cost more in some cases and with our Eco line our lights cost a lot less, but one thing you can count on by choosing LA LED is US jobs that keep money in Louisiana.

As we grow, we are committed to buying the machines and bringing manufacturing back to the US, back to Louisiana.

Can the other companies you see on the store shelves say the same thing?