• Thomas Lester

Middlebury Lamp Co. launches initiative to help schoolkids

Green Light Initiative to help kids

Middlebury Lamp CoMiddlebury Lamp Company, a sister brand to Amish furniture manufacturer Conrad Grebel, launched a new initiative aimed at helping at-risk children in schools.

Called the Green Light Initiative, the program, still in its pilot phase, gives $10 to schools in the Laker School District in Michigan for every lamp sold. The funds are used to help disadvantaged kids purchase school supplies, food, clothing and other needs that many take for granted.

The initiative was born when Chad Gascho, company founder, president and CEO visited his father in Michigan and saw a tray that was emblazoned with a logo saying “You Cannot Teach A Hungry Child.” The elder Gascho received the tray while listening to Sarah White, from the Tennessee Dept. of Education, while at a conference. Its message resounded with father and son.

“We’ve been looking for the right opportunity to do something formally. As we’re starting to market the lamp company, it’s a good time to push this out as well,” Chad Gascho said. “This way, we can do both at the same time.”

Gascho said he selected the Laker system for two reasons. First, he graduated from the system and second, the superintendent of the system is a personal friend. He said if it works there, he’d love to extend it to the Goshen/Middlebury area in Indiana and beyond, because kids in need are everywhere.

“Sometimes, need is right in front of us and we don’t get the chance to see it. Living here in Indiana, there’s a need in all of our schools,” Gascho said. “Every community will have an issue with something. These funds can be used for a number of things relating to a need.”

The lighting brand, which specializes in industrial lamps, launched in October during the fall High Point Market. Gascho said the brand got its start from an art project he and his kids were working on and things developed from there.

“We showed them to a few people because they’re fun and one thing led to another,” Gascho said. “We took them to High Point in the fall but we didn’t market them. We put them on the back burner.”

Gascho said the lamps’ industrial styles are the kind that would appeal to younger consumers, and they’re different enough that they won’t be found in just any store.

“The magic demographic is the 20 to 40 year old. These are the kind of things that are unique and different and not what you see in retail stores everywhere,” he said. “You see them in the specialty stores or art fairs but not necessarily yet in retail, but there’s a spot for it.”

And as the products gain in popularity, Gascho envisions a lot of good coming out of his first foray into the accessory world.

“My main purpose is what we’re doing with it. It’s one thing to sell product; it’s another thing to do good with the results,” he said.

Thomas LesterThomas Lester | Business Editor

Thomas Lester is Business Editor for Home Accents Today. A graduate of Emory & Henry College's Mass Communications program, Lester spent a dozen years working for newspapers in Virginia and North Carolina covering an array of subjects, ranging from community news, government, education, ACC sports and more before joining Progressive Business Media in 2013. As business editor, Lester covers all aspects of business in the home accents world, from the latest news from manufacturers to successful retail strategies and business analysis.

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