Game-changing bulbs go global

JAZIAL CROSSLEY
Last updated 12:50 22/02/2013
Paul Wilton
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ

BRIGHT IDEA: EcoPoint founder Paul Wilton says LED bulbs are a game-changer.

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Whenever 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 to 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 flourescent 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 ready for marketing within three months of him presenting 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 Kindgom.

It has supply agreements to provide companies such as soft drink companies Coca-Cola and Pepsi (Frucor) and Schweppes Australia with lighting.

EcoPoint bulbs light every commercial fridge made by Chinese whiteware giant Haier.

Te Aro New World near Wellington's waterfront and Petone Pak'N'Save are lit entirely by EcoPoint's products along the aisles.

EcoPoint, which has backing from local investors including Masterpet's Brent Wootton and former NZX chairman David Wale as a shareholder, is looking to increase its sales in Australia and is in negotiations for distribution in Denmark and South Africa. 

Contact Jazial Crossley
Wellington business reporter
Email: jazial.crossley@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @msbananapeel

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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