After a tour of Satco’s warehouse we have concluded that they have everything.
No really, everything a lighting dork could ask for is one of their many shelves. Beyond offering a tour, Bill Gildin did join us for a recording session to talk about the history of the company, how their share of the legacy support market has grown even as demand has fallen and how that support has become a value add for their buyers.
The conversation also gets into some other aspects of the industry; shifting tariffs, working with foreign manufacturing, inventory management as well as tracking sales numbers over money earned and the potential end of socketed fixtures.
We’re in the midst of a few paradigm shifts but maybe the key to surviving and thriving afterwards is to stick to the basics.
Christopher Preston is an environmental philosopher and author, we found him when an excerpt from his book The Synthetic Age about how animals are evolving to use the growing levels of electric light present at night, we had to get him on the show.
We get into human scale versus geological scale problem, the case of interference in natural selection, the varying weights of obligation to do better to the planet across humanity, and failure of awareness-building.
We also talk about getting involved in dark sky and efficiency regulation, banning the wallpack, and the question of who and how to judge what’s best in lighting for all of us.
Margaret Wong got started in the business 36 years ago with a single extension cord. She got that Chinese-made cord listed by UL, a first in the field, and the rest is history.
This episode features discussions of Hong Kong then and now, doing missionary work for capitalism, worker culture in China, and a potential paradigm shift global economics. We also delve into McWong’s future, advocating for Bluetooth mesh, lighting’s ubiquity as the driver for the IoT, and selling people on smart spaces.
In between all that Margaret shares stories about the early days of ballasts, how “WongMc” could not see the light of day, and other barriers to understanding she’s encountered.
From the floor of Horticann in Denver, we met up with Rebate Guru, Juan Carlos Blacker to talk about lighting in horticulture space. The space is very different from the rest of the field because light isn’t a tool for sight it’s a means of production; which makes it simple to tackle - sell bulbs that generate the most crop.
We also get into how indoor growing facilities are created, their particular service issues, boom and bust cycles particular to lighting grow-ops and where the future of indoor agriculture practices.
The showroom at City Lights in San Francisco has changed a fair bit over the last decade - the shelf space for replacement bulbs has steadily shrunk, while the number of fixtures on display has grown by leaps and bounds. There’s a lot of tradeoffs between purpose-built LED luminaires and something more modular. Michael, Greg, and our guests this episode get into the tradeoffs between treating lighting like an appliance going into the future.
They also learn about the ever shrinking number of non-prohibited bulbs in the California Republic, the withdrawal symptoms associated with a rebate addiction, the power of value engineering in the face of e-commerce, how high high-end residential really goes, and color preference genuinely being a matter of preference.
2019 was a great year for us. We have learned so much and met so many interesting people from all corners of our industry. We’re just going to take a few minutes to reflect on all that. Thank you for watching, listening, leaving comments, writing emails, and telling other people about all this. There’s still a pair of short episodes ready for 2019, but we’ve got big things coming in 2020 (name pending), so look forward to it.
California is leading the way, not only as an economic powerhouse, but for energy regulations as well. In our Discussion with MJ Paul at Omega Pacific we got into the end of rebates, how to get out of electrical supply by focusing on lighting distribution, and keeping the start-up mentality 30 years into a company’s life cycle.
As we continued our chat we got into the particulars of working the bay area, the regional nature of the business, and building strong customer relationships in the digital era.
The fact of the matter is that controls aren’t guaranteed to generate savings. There’s a number of reasons for this; the space is always occupied, the control mechanisms themselves draw too much energy, or people who might flip a switch end up letting the sensor do the work and lamps run for 5 minutes longer than they have to. But that’s okay (mostly), because Lighting Wizard, Stan Walerczyk is back to talk about the non-energy benefits to a set of controls. He along with Greg and Michael go through alternate benefits like color-tuning for alertness, zone controls for safety, and biophilia by mimicking nature.
We’re still not clear what side Stan is on in this discussion, or how to measure human productivity, or why lighting seems to be the default application of smart controls. But at least we had an interesting chat.
Brian Stern and Webb Lawrence of the LED Supply Co in Denver came to lighting after working in IT and radio respectively. They jumped in by dealing in to the local cannabis market, before abandoning that space outright for the opportunities of ‘regular’ retrofit business, and also not having to compete with HPS’s stranglehold on indoor horticulture.
In this episode, they chat about creating value adds as a distributor, partnering with interior designers and the surprisingly varied applications that emerging from UV-based disinfection lamps.
Eric Myklebust believes each building can be its own power grid. When asked why that might be necessary he will not cop to believing in the end of days that is the climate crisis. Talking about the facts of the matter, as opposed to projections; we can say for sure that less pollution is a good thing, solar panels can be very useful to that end. But the hurdle to green energy isn’t storage, it’s inverting the power to make it work with an AC grid. Which brings us back to the first thing Eric wants us all to do - the developed world is on the cusp of a major paradigm shift as we electrify our transport and pivot to renewables, so why not overturn the results of the current war and convert our homes to DC power supplies without relying central generation?