GE Lighting, Cleveland, took some time yesterday to celebrate its 100th year anniversary at its Nela Park, Ohio, campus with members of its executive team including GE CEO Jeff Immelt and Maryrose Sylvester, GE Lighting’s President and CEO; distributors including Crescent Electric Supply, Graybar, Leff Electric, Mayer Electric Supply, and W.W. Grainger; customers including WalMart; Nela Park employees and GE retirees; and local dignitaries.
The anniversary celebration included the unearthing a of a time capsule buried in 1916 that included some of the first bulbs developed at Nela Park, original blue prints of Nela Park and engineering documents and photographs. They also buried a new time capsule with energy-efficient bulbs of today, including GE's energy smart LED and CFL bulbs and historical artifacts such as some of the first GE Mazda bulbs sold for general home lighting and Nela Park history books. The company also officially opened a Museum of Lighting on Nela Park’s college campus-like grounds.
Throughout the day you could feel GE Lighting’s pride in its past and see examples of its plans for the future. In his remarks to guests, Immelt said GE corporate would continue to invest heavily in R&D at GE Lighting, which today does approximately $3 billion in annual sales. From Immelt on down the word was clear –- GE is investing millions to build its presence in the lighting market with a blend of the latest in LED technology and a package of traditional lighting products for those many lighting applications where LEDs do not quite yet provide an effective lighting solution.
In an interview session with trade press reporters, Steve Briggs, general manager for global product management, said that while GE is investing millions in LED R&D, the market still requires a full package of lighting products. Despite the excitement over LEDs, he said they don’t yet outperform many traditional lighting sources. Briggs said that along with some concerns about glare and compatibility with controls like dimmers, LEDs currently don’t do a great job of projecting light in a flood pattern – they are basically still a point source of light does a better job of projecting light in a fairly intense stream.
GE’s investment in its lighting business comes at a time when Osram Sylvania and Philips, the market’s other large manufacturers that provide a full lamp package of traditional and solid-state lighting, have their own challenges. Siemens is in the process of spinning off Osram Sylvania, and while Philips has become the largest lighting manufacturer in the world through several dozen acquisitions over the past decade, several sources in the lighting industry say the company is still working on a cohesive strategy to bring all those different brands to market.