With a program encompassing the latest technologies and proven business strategies, the 2010 American Lighting Assn.  (ALA) Annual Conference drew 503 attendees to the Encore  at Wynn Las Vegas, Sept. 20-22. First-time attendees represented 97 of that group, and 33 of those first-timers were retail lighting showrooms.
Uniting retailers, manufacturers and sales representatives under a common goal to sell more lighting products, the ALA addressed the full membership with industry and association progress while also enabling breakout sessions on topics relevant to each segment. EGLO’s  Sam Guye chaired this year’s Conference Committee.
Outgoing ALA Chair Lars Bostrom (pictured left), CLMR, of Bostrom Lighting Sales  had made it his goal to increase membership and support of the ALA Political Action Committee (ALA-PAC) during his tenure and both goals were met. ALA welcomed 135 new members in 2010, and the ALA-PAC has been instrumental in giving the association a voice in government affairs.
“The funds raised have had a direct impact on our industry,” says Bostrom. “They have given us a seat at the table in our successful fight for our interests in Washington, D.C.”
One of the general sessions included an update on the 2010 U.S. national midterm elections by Dr. David Damore  from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, who predicted that Republicans would win the U.S. Senate but would not take enough open seats to win the House of Representatives. But in his address to the membership, ALA President Dick Upton (pictured right) stressed: “No matter what happens in November, there will be no less legislation or fewer laws passed impacting the lighting industry.”
Upton highlighted other progress the association had made this year, such as a revamped website to allow for better outreach to consumers and seamless educational resources for members. Those resources include a new Certificate Specialist Manual for Lamps & Light Sources, scheduled to be available by Dec. 1. This joins the existing Kitchen & Bath and Outdoor Lighting Certificate Specialist opportunities, although there is about 50 percent more material under the Light Source designation.
All 47 existing sections of the Residential Lighting Training Course Manual have been updated and two sections have been added for LED and Regulations. This revised Manual is scheduled to be available Jan. 1, 2011. The Lighting Specialist requirement has also been changed to keep pace with emerging technologies. Instead of automatically maintaining LS status once earned, Lighting Specialists must now participate in four hours of approved courses every two years.
Upton lauded the work of the Engineering and Government Affairs committees, which have increasingly worked together in recent years. Lighting interests were considered in the recently updated National Electrical Code, and dialogues with UL, CSA and ETL continue. ALA is also working with the Illuminating Engineering Society  (IES) and the International Assn. of Lighting Designers  (IALD) on a paper entitled “Proper Application of Lighting,” aimed to inform legislators about the importance of aesthetic and practical considerations of lighting in environments. “Any legislation or regulation has to account for proper lighting application in every sale,” says Upton.
But even with all of these accomplishments, Upton is most proud of the work done on behalf of the group’s Bi-National Advertising & PR Program. “Everything we do at ALA is subordinate to what we do with the Bi-National Advertising Program,” says Upton.
Larry Lauck, Vice President of Marketing and PR, presented an overview of the program’s progress, which included the resurrection of the popular Home Lighting Makeover Sweepstakes. Previously a single $10,000-value makeover giveaway, this year’s edition has four winners at $5,000, $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000 prize levels. Entries must be received by Oct. 15 and winners will be drawn later this month.
The monthly Bright Ideas consumer e-newsletter has also been well received, going to 90,000 consumers and enjoying an open rate that’s four times higher than other showroom e-mail marketing.
The fourth edition of Lighting, published by Meredith Corp.’s Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publications, will be released in April 2011. This year, 165,000 copies were distributed to 500 showrooms — in addition to the 150,000 newsstand copies and 10,000 issues polybagged with Remodel magazine — but retailers ran out. So next year’s press run has been increased to 230,000 showroom copies.
Overall, Lauck reports that the BiNational campaign created 31,300 showroom leads and 225 million consumer impressions.
Next year’s ALA Conference will be held Sept. 11-13 at The Breakers  in Palm Beach, FL. Bill O’Connor of Casablanca Fan Co. will chair next year’s Conference Committee. For more information, call (800) 60-LIGHT.
2011 ALA Board of Governors
Chair: Carolyn Overman, Western Montana Lighting 
Treasurer: Clark Linstone, Lamps Plus 
Secretary: Bob Evans, Showroom Lighting Sales
Chair Elect: Tony Davidson, Kichler 
Ray Angelo, Westinghouse Lighting Corp. 
Tracy Bilbrough, Generation Brands 
John Deininger, Deininger Lighting Group
Elise Gilchrist, CLC, CLMR, Lytestyles 
Kevin Herdt, Austin Bluffs Lighting 
Rick Seidman, Quoizel