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Our Story

While Vertical Solar Systems is a new entity formed to bring the VS1 solar ring to market, the team behind it has deep experience in renewable energy, new product development, and scaling of startup operations.

Collectively we came up with an idea to further the deployment, usage and global impact of solar and renewable energy with our design, while simultaneously looking to solve space, energy harvest, design and engineering challenges faced with solar deployments in numerous industries and applications. Initially the idea for the VS1 came for the need for disaster recovery, and solar energy harvest in combination with another free source of power – gravity. The VS1 idea was borne from a technical challenge presented years ago to one of our key members on how to use vertical solar energy harvest space to collect photovoltaic energy on large municipal water tower structures and then use gravity for water pressure. Two free sources of energy combined in a way top make water towers, water pumping, clean water availability more sustainable, more reliable and environmentally friendly. By using solar and gravity, well pumps and water towers can be deployed or retrofitted worldwide to provide clean, potable water in developed and developing countries. Replacing the mainly fossil fuel grid power electrical or the diesel electric energy sources for well pumps with clean, free solar power was a a win win that led to numerous applications for vertical solar solutions.   

Matt Owner

Matt is a lifetime resident of the Florida panhandle and currently lives in Wakulla county.  He has over 26 years of electronics, advanced power systems, radio frequency, fiber optics, wireless telecommunications, and photovoltaic systems engineering experience.  He has a State Certified Solar Contractor license (CVC56732,) and is NABCEP certified as a Photovoltaics instructor,  He is also founder of IGT Solar, a Tallahassee based solar installer.

Matt is a visionary whose passion for renewable energy is at the heart of this company.

Tom Owner

Tom grew up on the Florida Gulf Coast and presently lives in the Fort Worth, Texas area. 


He obtained a Mechanical Engineering degree from The University of South Florida while playing on their Men's soccer team. He holds an MBA from the University of Dallas and is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt.

His professional experience began with 8 years in electronics manufacturing and electromechanical assembly with large multi-national companies (e.g. Motorola) before transitioning to healthcare operations and operational excellence for 9 years with large and small companies (e.g. McKesson) before spending 3 years in the vertical software industry.

He brings a pragmatic and data-driven approach to our operations.

Lonnie Owner

Dr. Lonnie Draper has been involved in the solar field for decades. He is a key developer in the patent for the VS1 . Dr. Draper has a passion for healthcare, technology, solar and environmental challenges. He has helped develop numerous patents, technologies in engineering, renewable energy and healthcare. He is a Managing Member of Independent Green Technology, LLC, a successful solar company in Tallahassee, Florida. Lonnie completed his first solar thermal project in 1975 and has maintained an interest since then. He recently was awarded the President’s Choice Award by Rethink Energy Florida for his creative work in solar. Prior to that he was the Managing member of Solair Easy LLC a solar thermal company. He performed environmental consulting with EarthSTEPS and maintains an active role. He is known for his work at Avocare, a medical software and hardware company that invented the ATM that dispenses prescription medications directly to patients and created the software that operates Regional Health Information Organizations.  After producing his first medical software project in 1982, Dr. Draper has maintained an expertise in medical information management for the last 25 years. He is currently a practicing emergency physician at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and clinical faculty for the Florida State University College of Medicine. He studied engineering and eventually obtained his M.D. from the University of Miami. He has been an active environmentalist for many years.

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