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Bethlehem plant light manufacturer growing, moves into larger office

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From left: Chief marketing officer Chris Clark, CEO Paul Hodges and chief technology officer Mike Planner of Soltech Solutions in their new office in Bethlehem.
From left: Chief marketing officer Chris Clark, CEO Paul Hodges and chief technology officer Mike Planner of Soltech Solutions in their new office in Bethlehem. - (Photo / )

Soltech Solutions, a manufacturer of specialty lighting for plants, has moved into a larger office at the Pi incubator in Bethlehem, the result of increased investment, demand and a new partnership with a major distributor for the home and garden market.

Soltech makes a line of light-emitting diode pendant lights called Aspect that are a crossover of the interiors market and garden market. The lights are designed to help plants grow using the photosynthetic spectrum using a chip that pinpoints chloroform peaks that are ideal for plant growth.

The company’s $15,000 technology transfer grant awarded last year by the Southside Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone was used to help build its inventory.

Paul Hodges, CEO of Soltech, said the company has a deal with Bower & Branch of Leesport, which he described as “the Amazon of home and garden products,” to distribute its lights.

“They have the network, capability and logistics to get any plant anywhere in the United States through e-commerce, which is revolutionary to the plant and garden industry,” Hodges said.

Soltech, which was started in 2014 in Schuylkill Haven, moved in 2017 into the Pi: Partnership for Innovation, a collaborative office space for startups on the south side of Bethlehem.

The company has taken advantage of a number of programs available through the KIZ, Lehigh University and $35,000 loan through the Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, a subsidiary of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley.

“With all the grow lights they have in the office, it’s not surprising that Soltech is growing,” Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez said.

“We’re excited with the progress that the Soltech team has made to this point and we’re looking forward to them telling us they need bigger space within a year or two.”

Hodges said the continued guidance and backing provided by the KIZ and the Bethlehem Economic Development Corp. helped fuel the company’s growth.

He said the company knew it needed a larger space to accommodate an anticipated increase in sales after increasing its online presence, selling its product on its website and through Amazon, and the distribution partnership with Bower & Branch.

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