January 17, 2024
by Line Goyette
As the American Association of Independent Lighting Agents (AAILA) marks its two-year milestone, the organization stands as a testament to the resilience and dynamism of independent lighting agents across the nation.
Founded in 2021 as a 501c6 nonprofit, AAILA has rapidly grown to encompass 79 dedicated members, fostering a collaborative community in the ever-evolving landscape of the lighting industry.
In a recent discussion with AAILA leadership, Billy Hodges, AAiLA President and Mike Ramthun, AAiLA Board Member, Davis & Associates, we delved into the association’s journey, exploring both hindsight reflections and forward-looking insights into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
After two years, is there anything you would do differently?
Reflecting on the past two years, the unforeseen challenges that came with the rapid expansion of a nonprofit professional organization were unexpected. With a surge in membership, the association found itself navigating the delicate balance of resource allocation and the delivery of valuable programming. AAILA recognizes the need for a strategic alignment of resources with the scale of their organization, aiming to better anticipate the demands that accompany such swift growth.
What are the biggest challenges your association has faced and how did you overcome them?
One of the challenges AAILA faces is ensuring that members fully capitalize on the wealth of content and benefits the association provides. In a busy industry, cutting through the noise and conveying the advantages of AAILA has proven to be an ongoing effort. The association remains committed to enhancing member awareness and engagement, recognizing the unique demands on their time as busy professionals.
What is ahead for you as an association and for the lighting industry in the years to come?
Looking ahead, AAILA is poised for significant milestones, including the election of its first board, the third annual member reception at LEDucation 2024, the launch of Agency 102, additional partner training, and the potential of an AAiLA Conference. These initiatives underscore AAILA’s dedication to fostering professional development and connectivity within the lighting industry.
Is there a before and after the pandemic market for independent agents?
The pandemic undoubtedly reshaped the landscape for independent agents, introducing new challenges and opportunities. The hurdles of maintaining connections in a remote-working era and the transformative impact on employee management were notable. Furthermore, the need to adapt to varied client preferences, whether remote, hybrid, or in-person. There was also a whole new set of products and safety standards to learn, embracing innovations in ultraviolet lighting, for example.
What are the newest challenges for independent agents in the not-so-sure economy?
As the industry grapples with economic uncertainties, independent lighting agents face varied challenges, from diversifying verticals to navigating budget constraints and the evolving market landscape. AAILA emphasizes the importance of agility and nimbleness in responding to changing economic conditions, recognizing the varying impacts on different industry verticals.
The dynamics of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the manufacturing sector have emerged as pivotal influencers on the market for independent lighting agents. AAILA points out that M&A activities can rapidly shift the market, creating perpetual changes and necessitating strategic adjustments to maintain a robust line card.
AAILA’s journey over the past two years encapsulates the adaptability and commitment of independent lighting agents in a rapidly transforming industry. As the association looks to the future, it remains steadfast in its mission to empower members, overcome challenges, and illuminate the path forward in the dynamic world of lighting.
More information about the AAILA available here