April 16, 2018
Focus on Manufacturing Excellence

ThinkLite lights the way – cheaper, of course

ThinkLite has ridden the energy-efficiency movement by offering brighter lights using less electricity.

Dinesh Wadhwani has only been out of school for six years, but his company has already spanned the globe.

In a Zuckerberg-esque story, Natick-based ThinkLite was founded in the Babson College dorms when CEO Wadhwani was a freshman.

According to Wadhwani, the company was conceived right around 2 a.m.

Wadhwani, an Indian national raised in Ghana, already had a strong background in computer hardware and software, but soon began toying around with light bulbs and LED lights.

Soon, he built software to estimate how much a home or business would save by swapping out inefficient light bulbs for LED lights.

Dinesh soon realized the business would need to make its own products.

Along with South Korea electronics manufacturer Samsung, ThinkLite developed a more efficient circuit and LED light to provide 180 lumens per watt, about 30 percent more efficient than every other product on the market.

Most other companies say their lights use about half the amount of energy as fluorescent bulbs, from about 32 watts to 16 watts. ThinkLite's bulbs, however, produce the same amount of light using about 10 watts, Wadhwani said.

"That's pretty good," Wadhwani said.

ThinkLite has landed huge projects of late, including the parking garage at the Prudential Center in Boston, and 35 stories in the Prudential Center tower.

"To us, that's success – reaching out to organizations in our backyard that are sucking energy from the grid and helping them become sustainable," Wadhwani said.

Another one of those backyard companies is Westminster-based Aubuchon Hardware, which operates more than 100 hardware stores in New England. ThinkLite has replaced bulbs at 41 Aubuchon locations since 2016.

The bulbs and technology are saving the company about 50 percent on its electrical costs, but it's also saving on installations because ThinkLite can retrofit its bubs into any fixture.

"That's been a big win for us," said CFO Jeff Aubuchon.

High-efficiency ratings are typically associated with ripping out a fixture and completely rebuilding a company's lighting infrastructure, Wadhwani said.

"There are two things that make us successful: high-efficiency bulbs and doing that without changing fixtures," he said.

Read about the other Excellence in Manufacturing Awards winners

Green Manufacturing Award: Fourstar Connections

Product Design and Innovation Award: Curtis Industries

Workforce Development and Productivity Award: IPAC

Collaboration in Manufacturing Award: Wormtown Brewery

Manufacturing Excellence Award, Small Company: Optim

Manufacturing Excellence Award, Large Company: Jeffco Fibres

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