Wednesday, December 31, 2014

SUNRNR Celebrates 10 Years--Part 1 "Inventing the First Solar Generator"

SUNRNR Inventor Alan Mattichak putting a unit through the paces.
Ten years ago, on a brisk November morning in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Alan Mattichak awoke from a deep sleep with the idea for an invention that would change the course of his life.

Since he was a toddler, Alan had been interested in electricity. In 2004, he was enjoying a career developing and installing electrical systems and gas-powered generators. The thought of using solar energy had not entered his mind, but on that morning in November, he awoke with the entire plans for a portable solar generator called the “SunRunner” in his head. 

He quickly set to work translating the plans existing in his brain into a durable, quality product. Ten years later, he and two business partners are now selling SUNRNR portable solar generators throughout the United States and around the world. In the process, Alan created a symbiotic relationship with NeuroRestorative Virginia, a nearby rehabilitative center for individuals who have suffered brain injuries.

However, creating a lasting quality product - when only 1 out of 5,000 inventions have successful product launches - takes more than just a brilliant idea. At a time when solar energy companies have come and gone, here is why SUNRNR is thriving 10 years later:

Tell us a little about the invention process. 
Alan: The idea came to me fully formed – it was a gift given to me from God for a higher good. First I ordered the components and made a prototype that worked. Then I fine-tuned the development and completed more field-testing. At that time I saw that this could be a good, useful tool for the world. Within a year I got the trademark – it went right through the first try. Then I got the patent and started building the SUNRNR. All of this took a few years.

Quick fact: Alan kept his Model T in mind during development, ensuring SUNRNR’s were innovative, rugged, powerful, easy to use, and classic.

How is SUNRNR manufactured and how is the community involved?
Alan: I was familiar with NeuroRestorative Virginia and their program [providing rehabilitation services]. On a whim, I asked the director for help with a small project for SUNRNR. Eventually, it turned into a once-a-week vocational workshop where residents help in the sub-assembly of the solar generators which provides cognitive skills-building, mental and physical stimulation, recreation, non-competitive wages, and useful work. When the guys start doing this work, they start getting better. Everyone was stunned with the improvement that was happening in this program. It’s been a blessing and very rewarding to watch.

Quick fact:  75 percent of the SUNRNR’s components are purchased locally and the generator itself is assembled at NeuroRestorative Virginia’s Weyers Cave facility.
What do you see next for the SUNRNR?
Alan: SUNRNR has thousands of potential uses. One of my hopes is that they would end up in places around the world where a little electricity goes a long way. Clean water is the single biggest health issue in most of the world. That could change lives and health situations really quickly. The idea for the SUNRNR was a gift given to me for a higher good. There have been lots of blessings in my life but this is a special chapter.

Quick fact:  Many beautiful yellow boxes are currently producing personal power in Canada, Africa, and Japan.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the SUNRNR Celebrates 10 Years story!  

Interview by Jenna Clarke

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