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Small Business Takes Big Step into Porcelain Manufacturing
TITUSVILLE, Fla. (September 4, 2012) — They came from colleges, corporate offices, and even the coal mines. Johnny spent almost 30 years as a coal miner before becoming the supervisor of manufacturing. Jeanine lost her job when the economy tanked and began rescuing Great Danes before starting work in the accounting department. Butch, also a former coal miner, painted cars at a local body shop and now uses those skills in the porcelain factory. Katie left the cubicles of corporate America to become the marketing guru.
While the employees of Barn Light Electric have traveled different paths, they have worked together, under the leadership of owners Bryan and Donna Scott, to bring back a long-lost manufacturing process that was once a dynamic part of the American economy.
Barn Light Electric began as a weekend hobby for the Scotts of Titusville, Florida. Having grown up in the shadow of the Kennedy Space Center in a time when American ingenuity and fortitude meant everything to this community, the couple learned early on what hard work and imagination can do.
With full-time professional careers and three children, the pair shared a passion for vintage American lighting. They spent their weekends prowling through antique stores, attending estate sales, and even poking into abandoned buildings looking for old lights. They would restore and rewire these vintage treasures and post them to a simple web page. It wasn’t long before they realized others shared their love for barn style lighting and their hobby blossomed into a business.
In early 2008, the couple left their careers behind and Barn Light Electric was born. The business grew quickly and new employees were added. One facility turned into two, and then a small showroom and offices were built on the shores of the Indian River with the KSC launch pads looming in the distance.
“What we really wanted was to revitalize the craft of hand-spun porcelain shades,” Bryan Scott says. “But we discovered that this particular manufacturing process had died 50 years ago to make way for less expensive techniques.” With a strong desire to bring back this quality form of manufacturing to America, the couple began to plan for its revival.
Today, their industrial shop operates two shifts where metal artisans start the process with a flat disc of commercial-grade steel. Using constant and intense pressure, the disc is spun at 2,500 rpm around a mold until the desired shape is created.
“This craft is extremely difficult as the spinner must use his strength to keep the shade spinning while the precise shape develops,” Scott explains. In the porcelain factory, workers hand apply two layers of porcelain enamel glass then the shades are baked in a 1,600-degree porcelain oven which produces a high gloss finish that will never fade or corrode.
In one of the worst economies in our country’s history, the Scotts have built a successful business and shared their success along the way by donating lights to worthy causes both locally and nationally.