Understandably skittish in the wake of Katrina’s recent devastation, some attendees left the 2005 American Lighting Assn.  Conference a little bit early when the initial stages of Hurricane Rita came knocking on the Miami Beach shoreline. But most chose to stick it out, bolstered by the first full day’s packed slate of educational goodies and an Annual Banquet that boasted an appearance by President Bush (well, at least a head-turning impersonator).
Overall, this year’s conference offered a great deal to compete with Mother Nature’s fearsome wrath. Held Sept. 17-20 at the Sheraton Bal Harbour Resort near Miami Beach, FL, the event hosted speakers ranging from the creator of the South Beach diet to a marketing expert who promised audience members he could both refine their advertising and imprint the image of a beloved pet forever on their brains.
Keynote addresses were upbeat and inspirational (although one could question Dr. Arthur Agatston’s decision to display cardiac imagery during a quiche breakfast). Richard Hadden’s presentation on “contented cows,” in particular, seemed to get listeners warm and fuzzy enough to go right back to the office and hug a favorite employee. And, par for the course, seminars covered everything from financial and legal nitty gritty to management and marketing strategies to lighting design training.
From time to time throughout the schedule, ALA officials took to the stage to update members on the organization’s past successes, current initiatives and future goals. During his annual address, ALA President Dick Upton praised membership growth, the new manufacturers’ representative accreditation program, the sharp increase in seminar participation and the self-study option for the ALA’s educational program. But the main thrust of his message promoted the efforts of the organization’s Government Affairs Committee and its fundraising initiative. Members have surprised even themselves with their success in protecting the industry’s interests at the legislative level. But, as Upton said, “We need to be stronger. It’s a damn good investment, and I urge you to help.”
In another address of special note, the new Chair Elect of the ALA Board of Governors, Lutron’s John McKiernan, outlined the organization’s goals for 2006. His attention will particularly focus on the formation of a Strategic Alliances Committee, which he said will pursue the “natural outgrowth of alliances that already exist at some levels.” The new team will strengthen ties to trade associations in such related industries as construction, interior design and electrical contracting, educating them about the business advantages of lighting. McKiernan says that he sees “no shortage of potential allies,” highlighting the National Assn. of Home Builders, American Society of Interior Designers and National Kitchen & Bath Assn., among several others.
Two especially popular presentations were the television spot produced by the ALA’s BiNational Advertising and PR Program to promote the $10,000 Home Lighting Makeover Sweepstakes and the announcement of the Lighting for Tomorrow  design competition winners (featured in the September issue of Residential Lighting). Attendees literally mobbed the booth displaying the honored designs following the bestowing of awards.
The 2006 conference will be held Sept. 10-12 at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort. For more information, contact the ALA at (800) 60-LIGHT.
|Pillars of the Industry
Each year at its annual conference, the American Lighting Assn. recognizes three individuals for exceptional contributions to the organization’s endeavors. Presented during the Annual Banquet, the Pillar of the Industry awards celebrate one manufacturer recipient, one manufacturers’ representative and one showroom recipient. This year’s manufacturer victor, HoltkÃƒÂ¶tter President Paul Eusterbrock (center), spearheaded truckers’ freight reclassi-fication efforts throughout 2004-2005. P.D. Levitt & Assoc. President Paul Levitt (left) took home the manufacturers’ rep honor for his work both hosting and refining the ALA’s regional educational seminars. And showroom champion Tom Early, President of Burgess Lighting in Forestville, MD, actively participates in the group’s annual Washington, D.C., mission, while also personally lobbying on behalf of small business owners about issues affecting the lighting industry.