Away With Geese, a start-up founded four years ago in the garage of a Sayler Park entrepreneur to create a product that repels geese, found its wings in 2009.
Plenty of changes have come to this small company of three employees with sales across North America:
- ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼A new home in a former brake manufacturing plant in Sayler Park.
- A distribution deal with the nation’s top golf course product company.
Exploding revenues from a redesign that is effective even on dim days and darkest winter nights. The winter sun would not rise high enough on some days to fully charge the unit so some winter nights it went dark.
A new bat house initiative at $70 each named – what else? – Awaywithmosquitoes.
This year already our revenues are up 230 percent over 2008,” said Tom Wells, 61, founder. Though he would not disclose revenues, Wells said deals with Par Aide, a golf course supply company in Lino Lakes, Minn., and a catalog by Halford’s, an outdoor gear company in Edmonton, Alberta, helped bring the dramatic increase. Each patent-protected anti-goose unit sells for $349.
Away With Geese is a floating (or land-based) solar-powered LED light that is anchored in a bay of a lake or the center of a smaller pond, and flashes a yellow beacon nightly right at goose-eye level.
Because geese need water to protect themselves from becoming a snack for dogs, coyotes and other predators, they head for ponds at night – unless the pond has an Away With Geese gadget. If that’s the case, they hate the light and will leave the lake for another.
“At nighttime, Away with Geese has proved itself,” said Michael Von Kaitz, a certified goose management professional through Canada’s National Goose Management Training Society and founder of The Wildlife Management Group. Von Kaitz relies on Away With Geese.
“There’s a pond at the University of Guelph (in Ontario) and three years ago we did a census – 1,000 geese,” he said. “Last year there were 300 geese. We put five units in the pond. Today it’s fewer than 20.”
Why bother to repel geese? It has to do with waste – four pounds per bird per day.
Figure 6 million ponds in the United States, according to estimates from Pond Boss magazine, and if each has a dozen geese. That’s a lot of goose droppings.
Communities with lakes used for drinking water that also have a large goose population must spend more on chemicals to guarantee purity.
But if you get rid of the geese, you get rid of that mess and expense.
“Up near Saratoga Springs (N.Y.), there was a five-mile long lake that had 5,000 geese. They put in 20 units – the geese are gone,” Wells said.
Son Jason Wells, 33, vice president of manufacturing, demonstrated how the redesigned land-based light, which has a larger photo-voltaic cell, can be effectively broken down and snuggly placed in a newly designed container.
A wooden dowel, black plastic pole about 15 inches high, yellow light fixture has been redesigned to blast in a 360 degree radius with a photovoltaic cell on top and an eight-inch spike for the land-based unit.
The floating version is weighted with gravel to keep it upright and anchored to the lake bed. And while earlier versions had a few dark nights in the winter, because the sun dipped too low to charge the unit, these versions work 365 days a year.
￼Revenues from sales have trickled down to other companies in the region: Teamwork Solutions, which created a new Web site; Parnell’s Hardware in Sayler Park, which has provided materials for the lights; and Custom Wood Turning, which has also created parts for the units.
Jason is also charged up about the potential for the bat houses. This is a company with vertical integration: where there’s water, there’s geese, and where there’s water, there’s mosquitoes. A Delhi Township woodworker makes the bat houses from cedar.
“A bat will eat up to 3,000 insects a night – about 1,000 of them are mosquitoes,” Jason said. “We think this is going to be a real hit, too.”