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Last June the Mid-Hudson Workshop for the Disabled (MHW), which was founded in 1948 to provide meaningful work for the Hudson Valley’s physically and medically handicapped, began working with ANL to provide various manufacturing services; their workforce also includes disabled veterans. Fala Technologies, a custom engineering and precision machine company in Lake Katrine, also fabricated some of the LED components.
Generating local jobs is a top priority for Neal. “The real secret here is to get people back to work and I am really, hand on heart, prepared to spread this around as much as we can.”
Neal picked the Mid-Hudson Valley to do business “because it is one of America’s technological seedbeds and a great place to do well economically while doing good socially and environmentally.”
Earlier in the year, ANL was also hired by the United States Military Academy at West Point to retrofit the Army’s lighting system with energy-saving and more durable LEDs. “West Point will be one of the first and best-known institutions in the United States to retrofit its primary lighting systems with the new technology,” read an ANL press release.
In the same release, distributor for the project at West Point Charles Byers of Pleasant Valley Energy Company said, “We project that by switching to LEDs, West Point will save 80 percent in energy.” Byers went on to say, “The savings will be even greater considering that we are able to economically upgrade the existing infrastructure, and avoid the costs and disruption of replacing it entirely.”
Neal said the wheels are in motion for other projects in the near future, such as working with an a large fish farm in Hudson to transform their lighting infrastructure.
Neal left college to tour with a reggae band, and never looked back. He got most of his experience doing lighting for concerts, TV, film, and theater.
A native of the UK, Neal started working with lights as a youngster. “I was making funny little stage lights for the local sort of kiddy bands at the youth clubs and stuff. As my mom will attest, I would be sitting there with bits of silver foil and covered light bulbs on the kitchen table taping things together.”
Neal spent most of the 80s touring with bands. “I’ve pretty much worked with everybody—it didn’t matter—from country music to techno to all points in between,” said Neal, who claims to be born in the same hospital as Black Sabbath frontman and heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne.
When asked if there were some bands that he enjoyed working with Andy said, “We used to do a lot of like the revival tours and stuff. So you’d end up with people like Bo Diddley and these guys. And they were just great to work with.” He has fond memories of carrying the legendary rock icon’s guitar.
He also remembers working with singer Scott McKenzie, best known for his song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in your Hair).” McKenzie, who Neal refers to as a “real old stoner of the highest order,” left his cell phone in front of a microphone one night during a performance. Neal ran backstage and called him as a goof during a lull in one of the songs.
He called it “a classic moment,” where 3,000 people were laughing at the same time. “I am sure other people will probably tell you a lot more of my history than I can remember… we did have a lot of fun,” he said.
Neal revealed that he also developed a lot of technology that is used to do “crazy” techno shows. “We were kind of the gods of acid house lighting in England at the time.” He later took a job in New York City, where he built equipment that was used to make the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies.