Switched-on local company lights way to the future

JAZIAL CROSSLEY
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2013

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Whatever you reach for a chilled bottle of soda from a Coca-Cola branded refrigerator or pick up a packet of minced beef at the supermarket, the products are likely lit by bulbs from Wellington company EcoPoint.

Following success in the commercial market, it is about to launch a new lightbulb for home use that has a lifespan of 50,000 hours, compared with only 4000 hours from a traditional lightbulb.

"It's a game changer," EcoPoint founder Paul Wilton said. A single China-made LEDisong bulb, which EcoPoint has New Zealand and Australia distribution rights for, could last for 25 years when used for five and a half hours every day. While the bulbs would be more expensive than competing products, the cost was likely to be recouped through savings in energy costs within a year.

"There is nothing like it in the world. It is the future of lighting. I challenge you that in five years time it won't be anything but LED lighting because of the low power consumption and low maintenance."

The Thorndon resident, formerly an IT executive, started the company in 2005 inspired by his interest in energy efficiency to focus on solar-power products. In 2009, Wilton switched to the LED market with his own brand of energy efficient alternatives to fluorescent lights because consumers could see economic benefits from LED, which are 70 per cent cheaper to run than traditional bulbs.

It took meetings with more than 30 different factories in China to find one, in Shenzhen, that could produce the lightbulbs Wilton wanted. It can make new bulbs available within three months of receiving a concept.

"The smartest thing we did initally was employ someone who spoke very good English at a factory that would listen to us. The Chinese are very good at copying things but have no concept around design or company needs."

From an initial capital investment of between $3 million and $4m, the company has grown to gain distribution across Australia, China, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

It has supply agreements to provide companies such as soft drink makers Coca-Cola and Pepsi (Frucor) and Schweppes Australia with lighting. EcoPoint bulbs light every commercial fridge made by Chinese whiteware giant Haier.

EcoPoint has backing from local investors, including Masterpet's Brent Wootton and former NZX chairman David Wale.

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- BusinessDay.com.au

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