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Day 1 at LIGHTFAIR: The Crowd Arrives

By Scott Costa, Publisher

A quick recap and observations as LIGHTFAIR 2018 opens its exhibitors hall. It’s a big crowd. I couldn’t possibly guess the number of people, but when tED magazine arrived just before 11 a.m., the line to register attendees had to be at least 1,000 people. Rows of people, followed by a line that went for at least 1,500 feet, was the scene, as workers tried to move them through the process.

Once inside, it was a lot like a maze, as rows of exhibitors stopped and started again, with large booths often blocking some aisles. Last year in Philadelphia, it felt a lot more organized, and it was easier to find booths without having to change rows and go back again.

It’s a crowd filled with distributors — and not just a few. I talked with one lighting manufacturer who said she has already talked with Sonepar, WESCO, and Border States. I am told some distributors sent as many as 15 people, which was well received by the exhibitors. They feel distributors are getting away from the “stock and ship” mentality, and are bringing their lighting specialist teams to events like LIGHTFAIR to learn more about products and how they can and should be sold. The positive response to the number of distributors was definitely felt.

I attended one education session, “A walk in the park: light’s role in outdoor space.” If you think lighting is still simple, you should see the work that goes into lighting parks to make visitors feel safe at any time of day. The next time you think any light will do, I recommend looking up Randy Burkett for some advice.

There are a lot of small lighting companies exhibiting at LIGHTFAIR. I couldn’t get a great indication, but their 10×10 booths did not seem too busy. As one larger manufacturer told me, I should take some pictures of their booth today, because they may be out of business tomorrow. So, I did.

While it may seem funny, there is some concern over competition and the dropping price tag for LED lighting. One manufacturer told me it’s not about being cheap, it’s about being reasonably priced. He believes the small, Chinese manufacturers are cheap, while he is reasonable. Another manufacturer told me, “If you want to buy a cheap light from a company that has been around for 6 months, I can’t stop you. But we have been in business for more than 50 years, and we plan to be around for the life-span of that LED light.” Expect to see some LED price hikes in the near future.

Everyone is talking about connectivity. And the ease of connectivity. Installation is getting much more simple. How the end user is able to control light is getting much more simple. I would expect to see more manufacturers asking distributors to include this in their marketing efforts, if they are not already.

What’s up for tomorrow? We will be tracking down more distributor-attendees to see what they think of the show, while tED magazine’s marketing writer Katrina Olson will be here to look at the marketing and how it will help you with sales.

*Note: I talked with a number of manufacturers. They agree to be “honest” provided I did not use their company name for this article. But, I also talked with multiple manufacturers about the same topic to make sure it was not just the thoughts of one company. tED magazine did not use any comments that were not told to us by at least two manufacturers.

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Discussion (1 comments)

    Brian Crossman May 15, 2018 / 9:53 pm

    So, I did.
    Hi Scott, I’m a Specialist Lighting/Business Consultant/Melbourne Aust. and have been around for many Years “and have seen it ALL”.
    I like your style/Para. – My comments are;
    1. Yep as Small can Go Under- Other’s are going to ALLWAY’S Replace them.
    2. Such is the Case also with CEO’s of Large Companies. Keep their Names.
    3. Finally, as many Business that has been in existence for a long time – are still
    to Get it Right & as they move towards the next Decade, they will struggle.
    Take a look at the Growing List: Osram, Philips, GE – enough said and so on in
    recent times. regards, Brian

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