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Metro Phoenix inventor puts in bid for Goodyear solar plant

PHOENIX — When Joseph Hui heard about China-Based Suntech closing its Goodyear plant, he thought it would be a perfect location for his new solar business.

“A new kind of solar panel that is portable and mobile,” said Hui, CEO of Monarch Power in Scottsdale. “It folds up, it’s very lightweight, and low-cost.”

Hui started selling the Lotus Mobile solar panels three weeks ago. Designed to look like a flower, he makes each product by hand out of a personal lab. It takes him about a week to build one, but with an early rush of buyers, including the Arizona National Guard, Hui needs a bigger facility and more manpower.

“Right now, right here, we have a plant that Suntech has just closed, and they laid off 43 people,” Hui said. “I just went in there and looked at the plant and said, ‘It fits me perfectly.’ ”

Hui said he has about 30 percent of the funds to buy the plant. He hopes a small business loan and public donations will take care of the rest.

If the sale goes through, Hui said he’ll hire about 200 people, including some former Suntech employees who just got laid off.

“I think it would be great if we just hire these people to build panels in America with American innovation. That’s all the better.”