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Illuminating Success: Collaborating with Manufacturers and Reps – A Visit to the Cree Facility

June 17, 2024

By Andrew Boerschig – Guarantee Electric – Energy Solutions Project Manager

The Importance of Partnerships

As an electrical contractor in the Lighting Industry, Guarantee Electrical is always partnering with our extensive list of Trusted Partners for a wide range of needs. Everything from manpower, equipment, materials, etc., we cannot deliver successful projects to our clients without our strong developed relationships with our trusted partners across the industry. In my third article here, I’d like to review how we as an electrical contractor navigate our relationships, specifically with lighting manufacturers and lighting rep agencies regularly to be successful.

Building Relationships with Manufacturers and Rep Agencies

I always use the line, “We can’t buy everything for everyone all the time,” when talking with distributors, lighting rep agencies, and lighting manufacturers themselves. But what I do tell them is, I want to ensure that we have all a strong continued relationship together, because we never know what we may run into on a given project and who we might need to partner together to get our goals accomplished. Recently in May, I was asked by Nick Ball & Kristina Steiger with one of our local lighting rep agencies here in St. Louis, Schaeffer Marketing Group, if I was interested in going to visit the Cree Lighting Factory in Racine, Wisconsin, to receive some training and see how they operate. As someone who is always looking for opportunities to learn and have new experiences in the lighting industry, I jumped at this chance! We were able to meet with the Cree Lighting team of Kevin Orth, Duane Henderson, Rick Simon & Lenny Zwieg on-site at their beautiful facility in Racine, Wisconsin, for this two-day event.

Exploring Cree Lighting: A Learning Opportunity

Over our two days together on-site, we had a full in-depth review of Cree Lighting as a company, some of their new products in the market, a full-factory tour, as well as receiving some technical training on an alternative approach to Color Rendering Index (CRI), offering a more accurate way of predicting the color quality of a given light source for the indoor space. We were able to learn how we can partner with Cree on industry-leading “Made in America” fixtures when that specific need arises for a project. Plus, by being able to tour the factory ourselves, we were able to see firsthand local skilled American workers building the Cree fixtures on-site that would soon be heading out across the country for lighting projects. I thoroughly enjoyed learning how Cree Lighting is committed to continuing to bring New and Advanced fixture options to the lighting market for their customers, specifically their New OSQ-C Area Fixture with Nano Comfort Technology and their Cadiant Dynamic Skylight which surprised me with its ability to create a natural skylight in the indoor space using industry-leading LED lighting technology.

Unveiling Advanced Lighting Solutions

We learned that Cree Lighting has always been an innovator around optics in the exterior space, and their latest innovation, NanoComfort Technology continues this tradition. The NanoComfort Technology not only delivers high efficacy, but also provides optical control and improved visual comfort in the outdoor space at night, helping to combat the issue of light pollution. They don’t just want to provide light from their fixtures, they want to provide the right kind of light for the given application. Cree Lighting’s Cadiant Dynamic Skylight helps to connect indoor occupants of a space to the outdoors, by recreating the sensation of being under a natural sky. The fixture utilizes advanced lighting control and color-changing LED technology to simulate the sun’s dawn-to-dusk, east-to-west movement over the course of the day which helps to create a connection to the natural rhythm of the day for the users within the indoor space. The Cadiant Dynamic Skylight provides a real alternative to actual skylights, without the maintenance issues and constraints that come along with them. As an Electrical Contractor, having the knowledge that these options are available to us and our customers only helps us to offer an ever-growing list of options for any application we may come across in the market, to help us stand apart from our competition.

The Importance of Continuous Education

As an Electrical Contractor working within the lighting industry, we are always looking for continuing educational opportunities to grow our knowledge base in the fast-growing and ever-changing lighting industry. Do you remember first learning about lumens, Kelvin Temperature, Optics, Efficacy, and CRI? I remember my crash course in basic lighting knowledge over 12+ years ago when I was getting started, and, needless to say, my head was swimming with confusing terms and the idea of how I would be applying these to my day-to-day work. We’re at an amazing point in time in the industry where LED Lighting Technology is quickly changing and evolving, so it’s important for us as an Electrical Contractor to ensure we’re keeping pace with that growth in our knowledge and understanding as we continue to navigate our work in the lighting market. Cree Lighting’s Team reviewed an alternative method to looking at Color Rendering Index (CRI), called TM-30. Overall, our method of measuring color rendering has been unchanged for many years, unlike the advancement of LED lighting technology, so TM-30 provides an alternative, with a more comprehensive set of tools to predict color accuracy more reliably. One difference, while CRI relies on only (8) color samples to predict color quality, TM-30, utilizes (99) color samples, which allows for a more predictable result. Overall, this was an eye-opening deep dive into some very useful technical information that will only help aid us in this area moving forward.

Key Takeaways From the Visit

We were able to squeeze in a lot during our two days on-site and I was able to bring back a couple of takeaways that I can utilize myself, as well as sharing amongst my teammates when I returned. I am always on the hunt to fill my “Toolbox” with new information and ideas that I can pull from when needed when working with my clients, and this experience truly helped me in achieving that goal. Knowing that we have trusted allies and partners that can help support our goals and the goals of our clients truly helps us to have a well-rounded holistic approach that leads to success and growth.

Conclusion: The Power of Partnerships

Overall, the continued efforts to continue to develop, foster, and grow our relationships with our trusted partners in the industry are truly key to our ability to deliver successful projects to the market. If you don’t take the time to invest in growing and learning, you will only continue to work at a deficit when compared to your competition. Utilize the available resources of local Lighting Rep Agencies and relationships with Lighting Manufacturers, so you don’t feel like you must do all of this on your own, it’s truly a TEAM effort!

Who is Andrew Boerschig?

Andrew is a standout project manager at Guarantee Electrical in St. Louis, recognized for delivering innovative energy solutions across the nation. His journey, illuminated through a causal LinkedIn story, showcases the critical yet often overlooked role of electrical contractors in the lighting industry. Without a contractor, no project gets completed hence the challenges and value, that a contractor can bring to an end-user and to specifiers. Their challenges, and partnerships with distributors, manufacturer representatives / lighting agents, and manufacturers are not discussed. Here is his third article.

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