BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The progress being made at Xunlight Corp. is evident the minute you pull into its parking lot: Finding an empty space is difficult.
The parking situation is just one indication that things are on an upswing at the Toledo-based flexible-solar-panel manufacturer. The company has grown from about 40 employees to more than 100 in a year, and officials say it is on track to turn a profit by July.
The company completed more sales in the first four months of 2013 than it did in the last two years, said Dennis Kebrdle, Xunlight's chief transition officer. Mr. Kebrdle took over the company when its founder and former chief executive officer, Xunming Deng, stepped down in March, 2012.
“We're in Afghanistan,” Mr. Kebrdle said. “We just got put up on military tents today. We’re an integral part of MASH units, the power that goes up in the place. We've got small power out there too.”
The military is just one market Xunlight executives are targeting. They’re selling products geared toward boating, golfing, and other recreational activities and are in the midst of expanding the firm’s global footprint.
John Buckey, the president and chief operating officer of the privately held company, said the firm is winning contracts in emerging markets in Asia, South America, and Africa. By installing the company's flexible solar panels around light poles, on lightweight roofs, and in remote locations, Xunlight will create a demand for its products, he said.
Once people see that the technology works, the company can sell its machinery to manufacturers interested in producing their own panels, Mr. Buckey said. The company has a plan to franchise — Xunlight executives shy away from that term for legal reasons — its production system around the globe.
They say that machinery would retail for about $1.5 million, plus royalty fees.