LIGHTNING RELEASES (4/1/2014) – What does it take to turn our country around? One man thinks we can reinvent our eating and manufacturing methods to do his part. The story begins over a decade ago when Lewis fell in love with his home grown tomatoes and raised bed garden. Being a busy NASA engineer, he found that often he could not attend to his ‘jewel’ and that thirsty tomato plants require exact daily watering. The journey began to create a dependable, user friendly and inexpensive way to make sure that plants were watered properly. Similar to ‘Gilligan’s Island’ where the three hour tour turned into years, he thought he could solve this simple task in a few months at most. After a decade of design, and the collapse of American jobs and manufacturing, an idea took hold.
Having created an automated solar watering controller with one simple knob, an commercial valve and a rugged copper stick to determine soil moisture, Lewis Lineberger set out to show others that practical raised bed gardening is available to anyone, no matter how busy. Fresh, organic vegetables can be within everyone’s reach. There remained a path to get American’s back to work, while creating an affordable product. Using a fabless model pioneered by the computer chip industry, WaterGreat LLC was born. But the process is evolved further. Similar to the fabless model, limited manufacturing is done directly in the company. Instead, the detail work is placed in the care of independent individuals that are grateful in the USA to have work – namely those who have talent and enthusiasm, but who are otherwise homebound due to physical or geographic challenges. “It’s not a charity, but a business decision,” Lewis says. “Offer the challenged a chance, and you’ll have a happy worker for life.”
Initially, the bulk of lower level activity is outsourced overseas. The final checkout and shipping support, along with secret manufacturing methods of the sensor is always done in America. As the sales increase, the business plan calls for more automation to lower the cost. The goal is to finally produce the whole product at home by keeping the sales price the same, and automating and bulk buying to allow American jobs.
Is it a successful business plan? “I hope so, but in business nothing is certain,” Lewis says. He just knows that Americans need to eat fresh foods from their own garden, and get out and away from sitting in front of their favorite electronics. We all have to try something to restore America to the strong country it was meant to be.