'Garage Inventor' Goes Solar

We’re highlighting small businesses from around the country as nominated by you, our readers. If your favorite small business is using Twitter to communicate with customers, let us know about it @fbsmallbiz with the hashtag #mysbc, and it may be featured as an upcoming Small Business Spotlight.

Small Business Spotlight: SunRise Solar

Who: Bill Keith, @solaratticfan

What: Solar-powered attic fans

Where: St. John, Ind.

When: 2002

How: Bill Keith developed the idea for his solar-powered attic fan while running a roofing company with his brother, Dan. The product was created as a solution to a problem the Keith brothers would encounter on the job: installing an attic exhaust fan without easy access to a power source.

Bill Keith sold off the roofing part of his business and focused on building SunRise Solar, which offers several types of solar-powered fans.

His entrepreneurial success has given him the opportunity to attend meetings at the White House and represent small businesses and the renewable energy industry at events held by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Keith, noting that SunRise Solar launched and succeeded before Obama took office, said he is concerned about the administration's policies that affect small businesses.

"You have to deal with a government that keeps throwing marbles under your feet," he said, adding that a recently approved tariff will be imposed on the only part he can't make in the U.S. "But they can't keep me down because I'm a garage inventor."

Quote from the owner: "If you have a product or service that's viable, don't be afraid to export. You can create a business out of your garage and sell stuff all over the world."