BRING ON THE ENTREPRENEURS
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]o people who have not been involved in the lighting and ceiling fan worlds, it might seem as if nothing exciting has happened in those industries for decades.
Granted, our industry didn’t advance as quickly as the electronics business has, but those of us on the residential lighting side who have been around for the past 20 years or so have observed innovative breakthroughs. Some ultimately had staying power (compact fluorescents had a good run) and others did not. Remember all of those fiber optic lighting companies in the mid-1990s? Also around that time, I was introduced to Microsun, which had the revolutionary idea of bringing the brightness of metal halide to the portable lamp market for consumers. (The company is still in business today.)
When LEDs started appearing on the market, a lot of design creativity was unleashed to handle heat dissipation. Some (like Switch) tried liquid inside to cool the temperature (this made the bulbs quite heavy). Other companies fashioned decorative heat sink “fins” as part of their design. There has also been ingenuity behind assembling LED chip arrays to provide even illumination over wide surfaces without shadows or hot spots.
Ceiling fans have also been evolving over the years — from wobble-free mounting stems and “hugger” styles to single blade and multi-head designs, more energy-efficient motors, greater air movement, smart controls, retractable blades, and a size differential that can suit closets to great rooms.
At June Lightovation, I met a mechanical engineer with an entrepreneurial spirit. Eric Hardgrave has worked in engineering and manufacturing since graduating from Texas Tech University. His day job is where he has gained experience in specialty thermoplastics.
You’ve heard the proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” When Hardgrave’s wife mentioned that she’d appreciate a fan near the mirror in the master bath that would make her feel cooler while she was putting on make-up, he decided to invent a solution.
“I started a company with the sole purpose of removing the current boundaries on ceiling fan design,” he says. Under the name FantomAir®, Hardgrave developed patented technology that allows a small fan to be integrated inside a lighting fixture (such as a vanity strip). And he didn’t stop there. His technology permits manufacturers to “integrate ceiling fan capability into almost any style of fixture while maintaining the original aesthetics,” he explains.
Hardgrave hopes his technology can revolutionize the industry. What he needs, however, is a manufacturing partner who can help produce his designs, which includes a hidden fan unit inside a chandelier’s bobeches (allowing for directional air flow that could refresh diners at a table without cooling the food), among other applications.
If anyone is interested in helping this eager entrepreneur realize this dream, I will put you in touch.