116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Founder Luke Phelps will speak at 1 Million Cups on July 21.
Luke Phelps is using his background in agriculture to create a cheaper and more sustainable way to ship solar panels.
His company, PV Pallet, based in Cedar Rapids, is bringing the reusable pallets common for shipping seed in agriculture to the solar industry.
“The best way to equate it is a reusable coffee cup versus a disposable one,” he said. “But you have to figure out how to get all the parties working on the same page so they know that they’re not to be thrown away — that it’s reusable.”
The reusable pallets create less waste than a disposable one.
Phelps said around 100 million pounds of waste are created every year from shipping pallets.
“Approximately every 15 to 20 pallets you’re filling up a dumpster. It’s a tremendous amount of waste,” he said.
Phelps came up with his idea in January 2019, and it took more than two years to design a completed prototype.
“The design has changed about eight times,” he recalled. “We’ve had to go back and start over from scratch multiple times because we would hit a point where it was just a no-go.”
The finalized design for the mold was finished earlier this year and production will be completed in September. Customers will do case studies with the test model to make sure the system works.
Phelps said the pallets ideally will be in full production by January 2022.
“Hopefully demand will come alongside those case studies, but we’re getting interest from about every single major player in the solar industry at this point,” he said.
What: Luke Phelps will speak as part of the Founder Fireside series
When: 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, July 21
For more details: newbo.co/1mc
The company currently has a team of around six, and Phelps hopes to add more employees by the end of the year.
He says the biggest thing he has learned in the process of developing PV pallet is embracing his weaknesses and finding the right team to support those. “You’ve got to have a team — nobody can do anything of this scale alone,” he said.
Phelps will speak about starting his company on Wednesday, July 21, as part of the 1 Million Cups Founder Fireside series. The Gazette is a media sponsor of the event.
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