Beyond her monthly bill, Karen Smoots never gave much thought to Consumers Energy.
That changed when she started a small business.
Today, Smoots is working with us to grow her company — Green Glove Dryer — help the environment and improve life in communities throughout the state.
I am beyond blown away,” said Smoots, whose product fits over air vents in homes and schools to dry wet hats, mittens and other winter wear without using additional energy.
“Here’s this huge company that’s been here for a long time and I didn’t have to be a multi-million-dollar company for them to notice what I was doing. They believed in me, our product and our mission.”
Business account manager Sanju J. Guinn is one of several Consumers Energy employees supporting Smoots and Green Glove Dryer at every step.
“Our small business customers keep us going,” Guinn said. “Their success is our success — without them we wouldn’t be here.”
Smoots invented the Green Glove Dryer at her home in Portage, where she lives with her husband, Ryan, and sons Collin and Nolan. The plastic device directs air from heat registers through a series of nozzles to dry gloves, mittens, boots and other items from the inside out.
Smoots connected with us in 2016, when the company began buying Green Glove Dryers to distribute at energy efficiency events.
The relationship expanded in early 2018 with a $20,000 pilot to provide Green Glove dryers to every K-5 school in Jackson County — home to our corporate headquarters. Smoots helped deliver 2,600 dryers to public, private and charter schools, meaning nearly 20,000 students no longer had to jam wet gloves and stocking caps into dark lockers or damp backpacks. Kids, teachers, school administrators and parents — most often responsible for pulling soaked, smelly gear out of school bags — were thrilled.
“It was almost like Christmas when I showed up,” Smoots said. “It was just amazing.”
The Green Glove Dryer is a powerful energy efficiency tool because it doesn’t require additional energy to operate. That fits snugly with our commitment to the environment and providing customers with the tools to save money and energy. We share a commitment to sustainability. Green Glove Dryer — which boasts a Michigan-based supply chain — recently redesigned its packaging to reduce corrugated material by 25 percent and eliminate bleach.
Together, we’re exploring ways to put dryers in more Michigan classrooms. The next step is a $500,000 effort to distribute the devices to schools in 26 West Michigan counties, from Traverse City down to the Indiana border.
These days, Smoots thinks about us as much more than a power company providing a commodity.
“Consumers Energy is a huge voice for small businesses,” she said. “And they’re not doing it because they have a financial incentive. They do it because they truly care about the communities they’re serving.”
See how Michigan mom Karen Smoots spotted a need in her own family and turned it into a product that’s helping kids and parents in homes and schools throughout the state.
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