Sustainable (Lighting) Companies!
You’ve seen them at all the major parking trade shows: PIE, NPA and IPI. Many of these lighting companies happened onto a product or technology that a friend told them about, know little about lighting, and are making claims, hollow claims, of how a relationship with them will be like the second coming of Christ. You’ve probably heard this expression: “If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true!”
Over the 10 years that ECO Parking Lights (ECO Lighting Solutions) has been in business and become dedicated partners of the parking industry, we have seen on average of 7 to 12 lighting companies at each trade show. Many are there for the first time, and rarely do any of them last more than two years. Even some of the industry’s biggest names have bailed on the parking industry for a variety of reasons.
During our first year in business, after literally turning our website on and heading to Hollywood for the NPA show, our first parking trade show, I made an advance stop to meet with the designers of a new parking garage for Microsoft in Seattle. After buying these engineers and architects a creative lunch, I was quick to learn what I didn’t know.
I realized that I didn’t know anything about lighting, but I was selling lighting and was on my way to my first parking show where I was to be a lighting authority. I didn’t know a lumen from a lemon, a power factor from a Power Ranger, nor Kelvin temps from Calvin Klein. I made a complete idiot of myself at the “Lunch and Learn” I had set up for this firm.
As I flew over Mount St. Helen’s and Mount Rainier on my way to Hollywood, reflecting on the disaster that had just occurred, I vowed that I would never allow myself to be in a vulnerable position like that again.
I was determined to learn everything about lighting so that one day I could attend a meeting like that again and actually bring value to it and to the partnership. They were right to ridicule and embarrass me, and I was right to determine to make a change.
Therein lies the first FACTOID of being a sustainable lighting company: Knowledge of your product and industry.
On that same trip, our first trade show and our first NPA, we agreed to buy one raffle ticket in the 50/50 raffle to support the Parking Industry Institute’s scholarship fund that Regina McLaurin so graciously oversees. It’s a long story, but we won the raffle! After taking from the winnings only the cost to cover our first trade show, we returned a large portion of the $20,000 back to the PII. We figured, if we needed to win a lottery to succeed in this business, we would be in trouble.
So, lies the second FACTOID of being a sustainable lighting company, or sustainable any company: Caring for and Connecting with the community you serve.
Early on in our years of doing business in the parking industry, we attended an IPI show. Not being selected to present, we found ourselves, clad in green ECO shirts, attending a panel representing all lighting types used within parking structures – four companies, four technologies: fluorescent, metal-halide, LED and induction.
As a company that was supporting induction as the best option at that time, we thought that the panelist representing induction technology had an ulterior motive; he was throwing the technology under the bus.
During the presentation and completely out of order, I boldly stood up and said these exact words: “No disrespect for the guy selling induction, but everything he has said is wrong. If you want the truth about induction lighting, come and see me or anyone in a green shirt after the presentation.”
OMG, it hit the fan. I was that guy you didn’t want to be. But after the seminar, a line formed to speak with me. As I reflect on that bold moment, we lighted 12 garages as a result of my standing up and speaking truth.
And we have the third FACTOID for being a sustainable lighting company: Risk Taking.
To separate yourself from others, you need to be different and do more than expected. At ECO, two things that make us different are that we are a true manufacturer with its own product (not representing someone else’s product), and that we also do complete turnkey work. Turnkey means that we do a complete installation – soup to nuts!
Our teams are able to do all that is necessary to complete a project in quick fashion and without shortcuts. Case in point: As a standard safety feature of our installations, we use a thermal imaging camera to confirm proper wiring and panel safety. All of our installers are trained in the most current safety practices and procedures, as well.
This is but one example of the next FACTOID of a sustainable lighting company: Thoroughness and Differentiation.
To be a leader in lighting and to be a sustainable lighting company, you have to be willing to invest much of your profit in product advancements. ECO started as an induction lighting company because when we started, it was the best value and best performer. Time does not stand still, nor does technological advancement.
Today, LED kicks induction’s backside in performance and even price. Had ECO focused only on induction, we’d be delivering papers today instead of manufacturing lighting fixtures. No! We studied and studied LED in many ways and became the first to introduce a safer, shielded LED product with an output of more than 100 lumens per watt, at a price that made financial sense.
Today, ECO’s FlexTech parking fixture is the only one in the world with patent rights including any viable lighting source within its housing. ECO has used induction, LED, and remote-phosphor LED in the ECO FlexTech fixture.
At this year’s IPI show in Nashville, many saw the results of our commitment to the next Factoid of a sustainable lighting company: Continuous Improvement and Advancement. We revealed our new Falcon Vision, a light fixture with an integrated proximity parking guidance system. (The ECO Flex with Falcon Vision is the first-ever product in the category of concierge lighting.)
While this isn’t a complete list of all that’s necessary to be a sustainable lighting company, sustainable parking company – or sustainable organization such as Women In Parking, it’s a good starting place. Attention to detail, thinking like your clients, raising the bar, delivering value and quality – all these, added to the FACTOIDS above – will make a huge difference in your staying power.
No magic pill or potion will ever replace hard work and discipline. Sustainability doesn’t just happen; you have to prepare for it and be intentional.
Contact Jeff Pinyot, President of ECO Parking Lights/ ECO Lighting Solutions, at firstname.lastname@example.org.