This month at its annual conference, the American Lighting Association will induct Larry K. Powers into its Lighting Hall of Fame. The prestigious honor comes less than a year after Powers, acting as President of The Genlyte Group, oversaw the sale of Genlyte to Philips Lighting for some $2.7 billion in March 2008. As part of the deal, Powers became CEO of Philips Business Unit, Professional Luminaires North America. He stepped down from his role at Philips on July 1.
For Powers, the successful transaction and now the American Lighting Association award is the culmination of his more than 35 years in the lighting industry. He joined the Wabasha, MN-based stampings and component manufacturer Thomas Industries in 1971, embarking on a journey that would have him climb through the ranks of such companies as Sarama and Hadco. For people who knew him in those early years, the Hall of Fame nod represents more than just a simple business recognition.
“I came into this business in April of 1971, and I think Larry came into the business in May or June,” says Tom Early, President of Forestville, MD-based Burgess Lighting. “When you get to know somebody very early on, it becomes a close relationship.”
Early, who currently serves as Chair of American Lighting Association’s Board of Governors, says Powers is an energetic businessman and a decades-long friend.
“Larry’s always been a guy with a lot of energy,” he says. “I don’t see him very often, but when I do, it’s like seeing an old friend.”
In 1993, Powers was named President of The Genlyte Group, becoming the fifth president in just seven years to helm the then-troubled company. Charged with the challenge of turning the company around, Powers took decisive steps to reorganize the firm and return it to profitability. The turnaround led to five recognitions on Forbes’ Platinum 400 list of America’s Best Big Companies — which, in turn, prompted Philips’ acquisition of the firm in late 2007.
“As a colleague, I always saw him as somebody who is very direct, very focused and who has a very pragmatic approach to business,” says Zia Eftekhar, President of Lightolier.
Powers is a past President of American Lighting Association and has served the organization on numerous committees. He is also the Chair of the Board of Governors for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.