Gene and Keidy Palusky of Edina, Minnesota, wanted to bring more light into the world! Not just by doing mission work, but also by creating a practical solution to a common problem. One of the technical difficulties faced by people in many under-developed areas of the world is lack of electricity. Even where electricity is available, it is often unreliable. Blackouts and insufficient power are common.
Gene is a graduate of Macalester College and spent most of his working career renovating old houses and apartment buildings. He had done mission work in Africa, Equatorial Guinea and the Dominican Republic. Keidy grew up in the Dominican Republic. They met many years ago when Gene was doing carpentry as part of a mission trip. Keidy works as a schoolteacher, as well as contributing design ideas, marketing tips and whatever else may be needed to maintain their mission. The couple has two children, ages 14 and 12, who also help with the business.
The XTorch is a tough, reliable solar powered flashlight, lantern and back-up cell phone charger for off-grid and just-in-case emergency use. It can be charged outside in full sunlight, or indoors with a standard USB cable. XTorch can then be used to power or recharge a cell phone or other device. A fuel gauge indicates remaining battery capacity. Gene estimates an XTorch can save the average person about $2,000 in batteries.
The XTorch lasts 7-10 years and is very durable. Gene says the XTorch floats if dropped in water and could be thrown on the ground 20 times and would still work. (Not that he recommends doing this, however!)
Gene and Kaidy have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their business. XTorch’s development was led by engineer, Bob Sweat. He oversaw the design and manufacturing process, and solved problems as they arose. The Paluskys admit that Bob “rescued them multiple times” during the development stage!
Gene and Keidy work in partnership with several international non-profits and donate at least 25% of their retail sales net profit to provide assistance to these partners. In an article in the Star Tribune on March 28, 2020, Neal St. Anthony reported that the Paluskys were shipping 2,000 solar-powered XTorches to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Keidy told a story to Heidi Wigdahl of KAR11 News that shows the real value of an item like XTorch. In 2017, after the Category 5 Hurricane Maria caused many weeks of blackout in Dominica, Saint Croix, and Puerto Rico, the Paluskys received a letter from a survivor who had been given an XTorch. She had been able to charge it in the sun and then use her cell phone to reach her family who was so worried about her. “That’s what it’s all about,” Keidy said.