Family Innovation

100 Years of Innovation

2013 marked the celebration of 100 years of innovation across four generations of family members of Charlie Szoradi. Since 1913, the spirit of invention and Made in America manufacturing has driven job creation through patents, production, and improvements to the ways that Americans live and work within the built environment. This century our commitment to innovation and excellence continues today!

Charlie Szoradi’s great grandfather, “Brains and plenty of hard work are responsible for our success” – Carl Zwermann, 1928

Inspiration from generations of inventors and entrepreneurs:

Charlie has been inspired by family members to develop technology and strengthen America through multiple patents and creating one of the very first manufacturing operations of LED lights in the United States.

History of Innovation

Made in USA Lighting from one of the leading American LED Light Manufacturers: Charlie set in motion Independence LED Lighting as one of the leading American LED Light Manufacturers, with the strongest 10 Year Warranty on the market. Charlie is the fourth generation in a line innovators that have focused their attention on the built world and improving the structures around us. The entrepreneurial spirit and the drive to manufacture the best of breed products in America dates back to the first decade of the 1900s.

Great Grandfather: By 1913, Charlie Szoradi’s great grandfather, Carl Zwermann, had secured over a dozen patents of his engineering designs for what we all use and take for granted today. He invented key aspects of the “water closet” with the bowl, tank, and interior mechanics that we now call the modern toilet. His manufacturing facilities in Michigan and Illinois became key cornerstones of production in the early decades of the 1900s. The production plants also used innovative thermal management to increase efficiency in the porcelain kiln and drying processes. By the end of the 1920s, Carl Zwermann had built the family’s U.S. porcelain sanitary plant into one of the largest manufacturing facilities of its kind in the world.

During World War II, special plumbing fixtures were made for the Army and for Navy ships. Mr. Zwermann’s great grandson Charlie Szoradi has carried on this tradition of support for the U.S. Military by dedicating development resources and time to provide LED solutions for the armed services with the first installation in 2011.

Carl Zwermann sold the Zwermann Company to the Case Manufacturing Corporation, formerly a part of W. A. Case and Son Manufacturing Company. According to, “Case brand toilets Case brand toilets – no longer manufactured – are some of the finest toilets ever made. Those that still have them, don’t want to give them up! That is why we, at®, offer an extensive line of repair parts and replacement tank lids and toilet seats just for Case toilets.”

After the war in 1952, Bayou Interests, Inc., bought the Case Company for a reported 7 million dollars. It in turn was acquired by Ogden Corporation. Ogden has grown to become a major publically traded conglomerate and has 39,000 employees with annual sales of $800 million and a Market Value of $1.340 billion.

While the groundbreaking pluming innovations in engineering and manufacturing did not have a direct link to Made in USA Lighting, this Made in USA Manufacturing story was a key inspiration for Mr. Szoradi.

Grandfather: Charlie Szoradi’s grandfather, Clyde Hill, was a Mechanical Engineer who joined the Case Company in 1930 and was put in charge of the design and development of new fixtures and fittings. In 1942 he left Case to focus on sprinkler systems for commercial and industrial buildings. His company Lancaster Equipment Engineers helped improve life safety in built structures specifically for commercial and industrial facilities through Fire Pump safety. As an engineering graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, he also inspired his grandson to attend Penn for his Masters studies in Architecture.

Father: Charlie Szoradi’s father Charles Szoradi is an architect that developed passive solar and sustainable design practices as early as the 1960s. His work helped reduce operating costs and served as an inspiration for his son. Charles Szoradi also authored the biography of Lewis Mumford for the Encyclopedia of Architecture. Lewis Mumford was a 20th century American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and influential literary critic. Particularly noted for his study of cities and urban architecture In his early writings on urban life, Mumford was optimistic about human abilities and wrote that the human race would use electricity and mass communication to build a better world for all humankind.

Charlie Szoradi: Charlie earned his undergraduate degree in Architecture  from the University of Virginia, and he wrote his Masters Thesis at the University of Pennsylvania on Environmentally Sustainable Architecture “Eco-Humanism” in 1993. He secured his first patent in the same year. The LED tube patent was filed in 2011, the same year as the move of the LED Tube manufacturing from China to Boyertown, Pennsylvania. Within two years, Independence LED completed the largest LED tube retrofit in U.S. history, to date, with over 2 miles 38 football fields) of installed high efficiency LED tubes.

This multiple generation of dedicated Engineers, Architects, and Inventors share a patriotism and tenacity that has helped create jobs and elevate the quality of plumbing, safety, design, and illumination for the past 100 years. Mr. Szoradi’s interest in Made in USA Lighting vs Made in China lighting was rooted in family history dating back to his Great Grandfather, an economic realization that Independence LED could reduce shipping costs through domestic manufacturing, and profound patriotism in building American Jobs and Energy Independence. Charlie’s most recent patent incorporates LEDs for clean air technology to improve building safety and preserve human life. UV-C Germicidal LED Strip Kits for HVAC Ducts.

Support Files:

Carl Zwermann Patents:

Energy and Labor Saving Kiln Design:

Process of Enameling:

Truck for Firing Furnace:

Water-Closet Structure:

Closet Bowl and Tank Structure:

Water Closet:

Journal of the American Ceramic Society

Volume 1, Issue 4, pages 262–266, April 1918

The fuel and labor saving qualities of the Zwermann Tunnel Kiln and its Operation: ”utilize the heat from the cooling zone for drying and heating purposes.”

Charlie Szoradi’s  first patent in 1993, which focused  on modular tenon engaging edge connecting members, generated derivative filings and has been referenced  by thirty-five subsequent U.S. Patents ranging from building block systems to construction technology.  Five of the subsequent patents that referenced Mr. Szoradi’s invention were originally assigned to ZinkoTek, the San Francisco-based company that makes environmentally friendly building toys, while another one was from an Italian building toy company.  The innovation of the interlocking systems also generated derivative work such as the construction of race tracks for remote control toy vehicles, interactive teaching mats, modular panels with integral connection means for use in display board assemblies for trade shows. On the construction front, the patent was referenced for apparatus used to install egress window steps, panels fabricated from multiple sheets of corrugated board laminated together, walled structure apparatus. Szoradi’s first of multiple patents – 1993: Modular Building System:

Charlie’s most recent patent is for clean air technology to improve building safety and preserve human life. UV-C Germicidal LED Strip Kits for HVAC Ducts:

HVAC ducts serve as a means for air capture and exchange within an indoor location. In many locations, it is critically important to mitigate the spread of infection by capturing or destroying airborne pathogens (such as COVID-19). Patent Abstract: An air disinfection system comprising: a plurality of LED diodes mounted on an LED strip; a driver for driving the LED diodes to a given power; a DC power source configured for direct connection to the LED strip; the system configured for positioning within a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system (HVAC), wherein said system comprising at least a first LED strip and a second LED strip, said first LED strip mounted opposing said second LED strip within a void within an HVAC system; wherein an air passing through said void is contacted by irradiated light from the LED diodes.