The lighting supplier
Singapore, 7th November 2014
As lighting designers our prime point of contact is mostly our local lighting suppliers, those who represent the big and smaller brands, sometimes their own makes. Now in LED Cowboy world life must be really tough being a supplier and keeping up with the Joneses…! Over the years I have met most of them of course, but now in LED world life is a bit different as there are a lot of new players around, which I am gradually learning to know; some with no previous background in lighting (semiconductor or building material backgrounds). Over the years I have seen many come and go in many different shapes and forms, some came and had their Kodak moment, they have vanished from the market, some made a smooth and even strong transition into LED and went from average me-too supplier to being a strong player, some popped up out of nowhere, one day they ring at our door and the next thing you know they are all over the place.
Today I would venture that one of their biggest challenge is also to keep representing the brands they have in their portfolio. Becoming an accredited supplier, agent or representative is not easy and comes generally with a lot of strings (turnover targets) attached. While this may seems straight forward, one have to realise that suppliers also play their game and often have multiple brand representation which often are also competing with each other. If you add your own brand in the mix you get an interesting cocktail of say 2 or 3 competing main brands as well as a competing (generally much cheaper) own brand. The thing is that the margins on their own brands are generally much higher so the sales incentive also is bigger. In an ideal world if you have 3 competing product/ brands to offer, they would be in 3 different price ranges (high/medium/low) so that there is a fair and clear choice to make, life in reality unfortunately is not always that straight forward giving rise often to in my view perceived conflicts of interest by suppliers advising on their products. I could write a book about the sales tactics employed!
Point in case in one of our projects where we were brought in late, we inherited some preliminary specifications based on a leading brand. The approach was good but the product selection needed some serious refinement so rather than talking to the local supplier who had recommended the brands to the architect we spoke directly to the manufacturer. That is when we found out that that supplier was not even authorised to sell the product. The contractor subsequently was told that unless the product was sold through the authorised supplier all standard company warranties and services would be void!
Light Watch 5-190: Enjoy the weekend!