Ron Farmer, founder and CEO, US LED

Distribution & Manufacturing — Energy, Finalist

Perseverance and determination aren’t the only reasons Ron Farmer has been able to succeed on many business fronts, founding six businesses in his entrepreneurial career. It’s Farmer’s exceptional vision that keeps him from pursuing the path of least resistance in favor of business models and strategies that solve problems and lead to innovation.

By continually reinventing himself and his company to meet obstacles head-on, he’s grown US LED into a top-tier LED solutions development and manufacturing company, and it is now one of the most successful LED lighting companies in the world.

When Farmer founded US LED in 2001, he was ahead of the industry in predicting the advantages LED light could bring to signs: improvements such as durability, life span, optical control and ease of installation. Believing that sign lighting would be transformed from neon to LEDs, he began developing this technology, determined to compete with global companies such as GE, Philips and Sylvania.

It has not been easy. Farmer had to solve the technical and manufacturing problems of developing the business, as well as the financial challenges in creating positive cash flow. At one point, Farmer even sold all his cash assets and funded from his credit cards, borrowing significant money, cashing out his insurance policies and preselling product to make payroll and steer US LED clear of bankruptcy.

Farmer’s clear vision and demonstrated commitment to his company have kept US LED and its employees focused on the path to success, even as they faced possibilities of going under. The fact that the president of US LED took a pay cut to work at the company is further proof of the team’s faith in Farmer’s vision.

How to reach: US LED,