How does a man come to an idea, cross it with invention, and bring life to it among the sands of technological advancement? What kind of man is this “Sonny” Hayes, who came to develop such a remarkable product? The answer, I find, is as fascinating as the product itself.
From rising through the ranks of the auto-industry—even to the top echelon of executive responsibilities in a major Japanese competitor—Sonny Hayes immersed himself in the corporate life. Always ready to pursue the next opportunity, to engage in competitive research and implementation directly, without shortcuts, he found himself flying around the world, establishing powerful relationships, and hunting down new prospects with speed and precision. Only a man with a sharp mind and a driving spirit could survive, much less thrive in such a world.
But that story ended with an appendix surgery and a three-month break from this whirlwind lifestyle—but, as always, a new story began. The man who longed for and actively tracked down the bigger, better, stronger, and faster died in those few months. But the little boy, the curious child who always wanted to know, came back to life. He settled, attempting a much simpler life, on a small ranch in Southwestern Colorado, and began to raise heritage animals and grow his own crops for food. He found such peace and wonder in this quiet, earthy lifestyle, that he wondered how he had ever really lived beforehand.
But the curious boy within wasn’t completely satisfied. At least, not with the growing season at 8,000 feet elevation and those deadly frosts of late May and early June. And so it was, that on the building blocks of his old, shattered world, Sonny reached back and reclaimed a phoenix from the ashes.
He remembered, in all of his technological research, reading several articles on NASA’s experimentation with LED grow lights for use in space. The mountains of southwest Colorado weren’t exactly space, but Sonny found the same principle applied: using an extremely efficient light-source to grow plants in conditions that might not allow ready access to sunlight. He had been struggling with large, overheating grow lamps in his own house and found that this idea could fill a niche in many different environments, not just southwest Colorado or the vacuum of space. The little boy within began to wonder if something cost effective and efficient could be produced that would help growers of all types—rural or urban, experienced or novice—enjoy the simple pleasures of tending a garden like he had known.
Sonny reengaged some of his old contacts, but this time with the quiet determination of a rancher. And steadily his idea became a reality—but still the eggs needed collecting and the horse, feeding. Such daily interludes into the process of development kept his focus on the truly important parts of life.
The man you meet in Sonny Hayes is not high-minded former executive, but a soul who finds joy in living, growing things. He looks you in the eyes, searches you for anything with which he might identify and love. This measured man is as remarkable as his invention—both seek to improve the quality of life being lived of anyone they meet.