Two Chaldeans and a Jew are on a mission to make the world glow. Parts of it, anyway.
Ten years ago, the lives of Alex Ketty and Jeremy Eckhous came together–and their path forward proved to be fluorescent.
“Alex came to my home to quote a replacement price for our deck,” explains Eckhous, who formerly worked in the corporate world before becoming a serial entrepreneur. “My wife showed him several samples of a new, luminous compound that I had obtained from a British engineer. Alex was immediately struck with the possibilities.”
Today, the two West Bloomfield men, along with Alex’s brother John Ketty, are the owners of Glow Path Pavers, a Keego Harbor-based business making paver stones that glow in the dark.
In a world where religious conflict can feel unrelenting, their interfaith collaboration shines as brightly as their products. Although, that the Kettys are Catholic and Eckhous Jewish doesn’t phase them much.
“We share the same values,” says Eckhous, who grew up in Huntington Woods, graduated from Berkley High School and Michigan State University and made his bar mitzvah at Temple Israel. “Chaldeans appreciate the same things Jews do: education, family, integrity and honesty.”
Though Eckhous does not consider himself religious, he says, “I am dedicated to the Jewish culture. I really ascribe to being outgoing, generous, kind and thoughtful and committed to living a good life without harming others or causing trouble or being dishonest in any way.”
“My dad reacted to his Orthodox New York upbringing by kind of going the other direction, but he also believed that if you’re good to people and honest and you believe in carrying yourself with integrity, good things are going to happen,” he adds. “So that’s what’s guided me throughout my life.”
As for the Kettys, Alex describes himself and his brother as “very religious” Catholics. Yet he marvels at the similarities between them and their Jewish partner.
“I have a couple close Jewish friends and we always talk about being Jewish and being Christian and how close they are. The main thing of religion is to love one another. That’s the ground we’re all on,” he says.
One of their attorneys, Alex jests, has even joked that Jeremy is in fact more Chaldean than Jewish: after all, Abraham originally came from Ur of the Chaldeans before journeying to Canaan.
“Even our dialect is similar,” Alex says with a smile. “Chaldeans speak (a form of) Aramaic; Jews say shalom, we say shlonukh. It’s amazing how close we are.”
Building the Business
That first encounter a decade ago sparked the business partnership. But it didn’t exactly progress at lightspeed.
“For seven or eight years we’d meet every couple of months to brainstorm applications, develop prototypes and research competitors,” Eckhous recalls.
During that time, they not only fashioned product concepts, but also a genuine relationship.
“We didn’t really activate any of the ideas,” he continues, “but we did generate a close friendship.”
In 2015, the trio patented a process for creating a concrete block speckled with chips that absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays and give off a blue, green or aqua hue at night. But only in the last half-year or so has business begun in earnest.
In that time, Glow Path has finalized a contract with a manufacturer in Southern California, showcased at the World of Concrete fair in Las Vegas and booked dozens of orders.
Now they are going to market.
“We’re talking to big box stores — Menard’s, Home Depot, Lowe’s,” Alex Ketty says. “And we’re working with landscape architects to get them to specify our materials with their clients.”
Glow Path has already built a patio for a West Bloomfield home. They are now targeting customers in California, Arizona and Nevada.
The owners envision several possible uses for their products. One is to illuminate public spaces.
“City plazas, parks, amusement parks, retirement communities, college campuses, Las Vegas casinos and hospitals are perfect examples of potential clients,” Eckhous says. “It’s a unique product and serves in many ways as an alternative to low-voltage lighting.”
No electricity is needed, and because the material is nontoxic, it’s environmentally friendly. “Theoretically, you could eat it.”
The luminous stones could also, the owners say, help people navigate benighted sidewalks, curbs or steps. There are marine applications, too: swimming pools, fish tanks and koi ponds.
“We may also eventually provide other sizes for accents and borders, and designs like arrows.”
Wherever the possibilities take them, the Glow Path guys plan to stick to their values.
“That means creating an honest product that does what it says it does,” explains Eckhous, “and makes life simpler and more environmentally responsible and sustainable.”
Alex adds, “The good part about all this is it’s going to be here for a long, long time, even after we leave this world. It’s going to be here and people are going to see the effect we’ve made on the world — that we’ve made the surface glow.”