Looking Back on 200 Issues of Residential Lighting
November 13, 2009 - 11:37am

It’s official — we’ve now produced 200 issues. I was going to resist any kind of self-reflexive retrospective. After all, does it make sense to look back at a time when our industry needs to keep its focus so firmly forward? But nostalgia has a way of sneaking up on you, and when I received a request from an ARTS finalist to check our archives for some specific articles the company wanted to use for its presentation to the judges, it only accelerated the Waybac machine.

Perusing the pages of our pilot issue, which hit the scene at the January 1993 Dallas Market, some aspects of the industry are almost unrecognizable in their earlier forms. The most revolutionary finish to report, breaking up the monotony of brass? Verde. The lighting floor plans included in our Dallas Super Market Planner? A pre-expansion Trade Mart 3 and the 10th and 12th floors of the World Trade Center. And did I just read that correctly: The Dixie Chicks played a concert in the World Trade Center Hall of Nations to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Charles Kennedy showroom (long before it became part of OneCoast)??

But some aspects of this era are eerily familiar. The industry was still emerging from a recession. And an interview with then-ALA Showroom Division President John Blanchard of The Lighting Center really hit home. When asked about the organization’s agenda, he talked about the “explosion” of the halogen market and how “it’s almost as if the bulb industry is directing the lighting industry because fixtures have to be designed and sold to fit all these new bulbs. It’s important for us to be well versed in bulb technology.” Give that comment a government regulation angle and it is just as relevant today in the context of compact fluorescent and solid-state lamping.

Likewise, Editor/Associate Publisher Cori Dunn’s introduction to her first feature well urged showrooms to “stand for something” in order to succeed in a “cluttered marketplace.” “Your customers must be able to recognize your unique differences. But you must see them first.” So true.

Sometimes it pays to mine your past for pearls of wisdom, and a healthy dose of perspective. Think back to what your business was all about in the beginning. Chances are your founding principles still apply today, even if the means used to reach them have modernized. Here’s looking forward to serving you for another 200 issues!

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