The American Lighting Assn. (ALA) hosted its 2013 Annual Conference Sept. 22-24 at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa near Austin, TX. The event drew 552 attendees and 88 first-timers, as well as representatives from five Canadian provinces.
At the opening breakfast on Sept. 23, ALA Chair and Partner of Lytestyles Elise Severson addressed the membership. She said that since January 2013, ALA has welcomed 117 new members, and more are expected to join before the year’s end. Severson also stressed the importance of supporting an industry front like ALA, especially with its educational opportunities and work on legislative issues.
“It was amazing to watch everyone work together when ceiling fan regulations came down,” she said. “This is exactly why we need an organization like this.”
State of the Industry
ALA President Dick Upton gave his state of the industry address during the conference’s first lunch, where he assured members that ALA is on target or ahead of target for all action items set out for the year. He stressed the importance of education and training for lighting professionals and updated the membership on key issues ALA has been involved in in Washington, including the Internet sales tax bill and potential ceiling fan regulations.
Upton also said membership currently stands at 1400, which measures at pre-recession levels, and the ALA staff averages 14½ years with the organization, setting a great foundation for the years to come.
This will be important looking ahead to 2014, as Upton announced that he will be retiring. A task force has been appointed to find his successor and the transition will take place between early and mid-2015.
“One of the most important tasks of 2014 will be finding my replacement," Upton said to the ALA membership. "After a 56-year career, it’s time for me and it’s time for ALA.”
Upton’s leadership over the last two decades has been pivotal for the organization and business is stronger than ever, as evidenced by some impressive statistics and exciting news on the marketing front delivered by ALA Vice President of Communications Larry Lauck. According to Lauck, the Bi-National Advertising and Public Relations program has generated 270 million consumer impressions and 80,000 qualified leads this year.
Other marketing efforts during 2013, including YouTube videos, Lighting magazine published in partnership with Better Homes & Gardens and the Meredith Corp., eNewsletters and monthly PR stories on lighting have proven valuable for ALA and its members as well.
Looking ahead to 2014, Lauck says full-page advertisers in Lighting magazine will have several exciting opportunities. To start, Meredith Corp. will work with ALA to film two-minute lighting trend videos for each of the manufacturer advertisers at the June Dallas Market; an 8-page buying guide will appear in Décor and Elegant Homes magazines, promoting these advertisers and their products; and, a Traditional Home database mailing of a custom postcard to A-list designers will promote ALA and Lighting magazine.
During Conference, members attended sessions like “Beyond Store Marketing: Integrating Social and Mobile to Produce Big Results,” “Implementing Showroom Best Practices,” and “Navigating the Maze of LED Dimming.”
The latter session, which had standing room only, was led by CEO of LED Inspirations Nick Senofsky. Senofsky dove into the complex topic of LED dimming and translated complex functions into easily digestible concepts, with the idea that retailers would be able to explain them to customers, designers, builders and contractors in the same way to guide them to appropriate selections. He explained the four types of residential dimmers, the basics of forward-phase, reverse-phase and phase control, and touched on the important questions to ask manufacturers concerning their products’ dimmability.
To close conference, several industry leaders were honored. John McKiernan, Vice Chairman of Lutron Electronics Co., was inducted into the Hall of Fame. David R. Turner of Hunter Fans, Dave Gatto of Westinghouse Lighting, David S. Shiller of Lighting Solution Development and Wendy Lofing-Rossotti of Lofings Lighting received Pillar of the Industry awards. Clark Linstone, CFO of Lamps Plus and Chair of ALA, received Residential Lighting’s Industry Leadership Award.