breaking news

Coroner requested to scene of Harrison Twp. house fire

Wright Brothers brand raises funds

Dayton company has vision for Third Street, e-commerce


Wright Brothers USA — the Dayton company controlling the Wright Brothers brand — is raising money to bring manufacturing and tourism to West Dayton, fueled by an international e-commerce web site selling American-made bicycles, aviation jackets, sunglasses and more.

Last year, the Webster Street company, Wright Brothers USA, became the first business to license retail goods in the name of the Wright Brothers, with the blessing of Amanda Wright-Lane, great-grandniece of the Wright brothers, and her brother Stephen Wright.

American-made bikes and watches under the brand were offered by Michigan’s Shinola last year. Those quickly sold out.

Now, Wright Brothers USA principals — Dave Lightle, chief executive, and Kenneth Botts, president — are seeking accredited investors to start an e-commerce site and start manufacturing in Dayton, Florida, California and elsewhere.

The company seeks $750,000 to start the site and another $350,000 to refurbish the Wright Cycle shop on Williams Street just south of Third Street, preparing it for bicycle production and hoped-for tourism. They also want to build a park next to the shop commemorating the famous brothers.

“We’re about a quarter of the way there,” Lightle said of funding thus far.

The company will employ Dayton workers for bicycle production, order fulfillment and packaging, but not many new jobs are contemplated — perhaps eight to ten positions.

But refurbishing the cycle shop and establishing manufacturing there depends on garnering the full $1.1 million, Lightle said.

“With full funding, $1.1 million, our plan is to do it in Dayton,” he said.

“We approached a master builder who happens to live in this area,” he said. “When we approached him with the idea of being in the Wright Cycle Co. making bikes, he just flipped out.”

The business has found a sun glass maker in Boston, a travel bag producer in Florida and an aviation jacket maker in Los Angeles.

The only product the company won’t make in America are luxury watches made by English brand Bremont. And those won’t be inexpensive — they will range from $25,000 to $44,000.

Readers may remember Lightle as the executive behind the stalled effort to start HeartLand Airlines in Dayton in the late 1990s. Heartland operations stalled in 2001 after investment banks stopped funding the effort.

Lightle said he is tackling this project with the benefit of “lessons learned” from the Heartland experience. “If anything, we came out too small,” he said of that effort.

Frank Winslow, chair of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance and president and chief executive of Dayton’s NCIC CapitalFund investment fund, thinks Wright Brothers USA is on a promising track. And Winslow believes Lightle has learned critical lessons from the HeartLand experience.

“I do think they have gone about this in a thoughtful and measured way,” said Winslow, who said he has not invested in the company but said he may in the future.

If the company “pulls it off,” the business will be good for the Wright family and good for Dayton, Winslow said.

But he added that no worthwhile business venture is wholly without risk.

“Overall, I think they have thought it through and they have a good business plan — not without risk,” he said.

Lightle and Botts intend to present their vision to the NAHA board later this month.

The licensing strategy is more than a business move. Revenue from the business also supports the Hawthorn Hill mansion in Oakwood, the former home of Orville Wright, and historical aviation sites around Dayton. The Wright Family Foundation will receive 40 percent of royalties from products sold under the Wright Brothers brand, Lightle and Botts said.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Fairfield lifeguards earn top marks for being ‘vigilant,’ ‘rescue ready’
Fairfield lifeguards earn top marks for being ‘vigilant,’ ‘rescue ready’

The city of Fairfield’s lifeguards were deemed “vigilant, professional and rescue ready” after a random, unannounced audit from an international pool safety organization. Ellis & Associates recently conducted the operational safety audit at the Fairfield Aquatic Center, 2605 Augusta Blvd., and said the pool’s lifeguards received...
Coroner requested to scene of Harrison Twp. house fire
Coroner requested to scene of Harrison Twp. house fire

The Montgomery County coroner’s office has been requested to the scene of a Harrison Twp. house fire, according to regional dispatchers. Flames are now out at the scene of a house fire in Harrison Twp. and a person is believed to still be inside the home, according to dispatchers.  Dispatchers said no one was evacuated front the home when...
Man hit by car following fight in Dayton
Man hit by car following fight in Dayton

No one has been taken to the hospital from the scene of a reported pedestrian strike on Wayne Avenue Sunday morning.  Dispatchers said a police officer is at the scene, but it doesn't appear anyone was severely injured.  Initial reports indicated two men fighting - one armed with a knife - were near a Sunoco when one of the men was hit by...
Dayton’s aviation heritage on display at national event this week
Dayton’s aviation heritage on display at national event this week

Elements of the National Aviation Heritage Area will be on display this week at AirVenture, the world’s biggest fly-in at Oshkosh, Wis. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and the Champaign Aviation Museum will celebrate the heritage area’s rich aviation history in the air and on the ground...
Chance for storms continues today
Chance for storms continues today

The chance for showers and storms continues today, some of which could be strong to severe with gusty winds, lightning and thunder, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar. Highs will be in the middle to upper 80s, with heat index values in the 90s. Few showers and storms today Some could be strong to severe More dry time expected this...
More Stories