Made in the Northwest: Lighthouse International

SPOKANE, Wash. - Bill Dyer started Lighthouse International all the way back in 1991.

"It's a very well paid hobby," said Dyer, the company's CEO and founder. "I mean, why retire when you can have fun doing this?"

The idea for his first product came to him while walking up his snow covered steps in the winter.

"And i thought there's got to be a better way to do this than throwing de-icers and salts on them and things like that." 

So Dyer designed the Warm Welcome low voltage step heaters.

"We had a non-slip surface with a heater underneath of it. And we hooked them up the same way outdoor lighting is done, so you can clip these in anywhere along a low voltage line that goes by the side of your steps," Dyer explained.

The heaters are put together in just a few simple steps. First, a non-slip surface is attached to a prefabricated piece of metal. Next, it's bent on a press break to form the part that goes over the edge of the step. And finally, said Dyer, "We just put the heater underneath of it with a little bit of Super 77 3M spray glue and it works just great."

With only 12 or 24 volts, the step heaters create a good amount of heat, making them perfect for keeping people from slipping when they get on and off of a bus.

In fact, Dyer says Lighthouse sells so many step heaters to mass transit companies, "There's a lot of manufacturers putting these in at the factory now."

The heaters are also commonly used around hot tubs, cold weather hotels and condos and, of course, the steps outside your own home.

"The people who have them in love them. So it's just a matter of getting the word out." 

Lighthouse is also trying to get the word out about its newer product, Line Light fishing lures, which used the motto, "There's nothing better that's happened to your tackle box than our Line Lights." 

The idea for these came to Dyer when he was night fishing a buddy on Loon Lake. He designed the lures using LED lights and Energizer watch batteries.

"You can put them anywhere you want on your fishing line and it'll illuminate anything you've already got in your tackle box."

Dyer claims they'll work at depths of over 900 feet deep and the batteries will last 150 hours plus.

Lighthouse has the components manufactured for them. Then, after a simple weld, "We dip them and put the fiber composite tubes on them to run the fishing line through," said Dyer.

And while they're not guaranteed to catch fish, "They're guaranteed to attract fish," explained Dyer. "But you still have to catch them."

And with two successful products already, Lighthouse is now looking to catch on to its next big idea.

"We've been around for 26 years and we hope to be around for another 50 or 60."