The Lighting Rep Network, a one-year-old association for reps in the lighting market, says it can help lighting reps find new lighting lines to sell that meet its standards for product quality, customer service, commissions and shipping methodology.
Michael Katz, a veteran of the lighting market and one of LRN’s founders, says the flood of new manufacturers from Pacific Rim countries and inside the United States has created a need for an organization that can help lighting reps determine which new lighting manufacturers are credible suppliers of lighting equipment. He said LRN, which he launched last year with the help of Dan Schmalen, checks on the quality of the products, ensures they have a proper third-party listing from UL or another testing agency and are certified by the DLC (DesignLights Consortium), and helps new lighting manufacturers develop proper commission programs for reps.
LRN currently has 150 rep members and five lighting manufacturers — Envoy Lighting, a commercial/industrial lighting manufacturer; True North Lighting, a LED lighting equipment manufacturer; Lumencia, a provider of lighting packages for multi-family housing; Emergensee, a provider of life-safety products for the lighting market; and YS Lighting, an outdoor LED fixture manufacturer. Katz says lighting reps can join LRN for free and that lighting manufacturers usually pay a monthly retainer and a percentage of sales.
LRN’s two founders have a ton of lighting experience. Katz, the network’s president, has worked in the electrical and lighting field for almost 30 years. He has been an electrician and lighting rep, started up his own lighting maintenance company with two partners and worked for manufacturer Best Lighting, owned by his father and brother. He also consulted for Texas Fluorescents and Mobern Lighting and started his own lighting company. Schmalen, V.P. of marketing, has worked with Best Lighting Products, Pacific Coast Lighting and Lamps Plus.
Katz says he got the idea for LRN while helping Texas Fluorescents set up a rep network. While talking with reps about taking on the line, he kept hearing about the difficulty they were having in evaluating credible new manufacturers, particularly in the fast-moving LED field.