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Reinventing a Brand

March 1, 2006
Senior executives at Westinghouse Lighting Corp. believe the famed “Circle W” logo will soon by synonymous with an integrated approach to energy-efficient lighting systems.

An interesting blend of the old and new at Westinghouse Lighting Corp. is evident the moment you drive up to the company's headquarters in a quiet industrial park north of Philadelphia. There's the giant blue-and-white cube with the familiar “Circle W” logo — the same giant cube that once stood near the entrance of Westinghouse Electric Corp.'s world headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh. As you drive closer to the building, you see the logo for the company's newest business unit: Westinghouse Lighting Solutions.

The story behind that new logo — and the sales opportunities it may offer for electrical distributors and independent reps in the sale of energy-efficient lighting systems — is an interesting tale that may test some of the traditional norms in the electrical wholesaling industry.

Testing conventional norms isn't anything new for Stan Angelo, Westinghouse Lighting's CEO and chairman. In 1997, while Angelo was a senior executive for Angelo Brothers, his family's 50-year-old lamp company, he acquired the rights to the Westinghouse name in the lighting and ceiling fan markets. Six years later, Angelo changed the name of his family's business to Westinghouse Lighting Corp.

The Westinghouse brand has meant different things to different people over an illustrious 122-year history that reaches back to the very roots of the electrical business. Power plants, transformers, circuit breakers, lamps and industrial controls have all been part of the history of the brand. Stan Angelo and his brother, Ray, the company's president, hope to redefine what Westinghouse means to electrical distributors by providing them with an integrated package of lamps, ballasts, lighting fixtures, controls and reflectors that can provide sizeable and measurable cost savings for many of the most common commercial and industrial applications, including office and warehouse applications.

The concept of one manufacturer marketing all these products is unique in the lighting industry. Two of the “Big Three” lamp manufacturers, Sylvania, Danvers, Mass., and Philips Lighting Co., Somerset, N.J., sell ballasts with their lamps because their parent companies own ballast manufacturers and offer some dimming controls. (Sylvania's parent, Siemens, owns Osram, and Philips Lighting's parent, Philips NV, owns Advance Transformer.) But offering a total solution is a new twist for a lighting manufacturer.

The Westinghouse Lighting Solutions business unit (the company's other business units focus on residential lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, door chimes, and related lighting products), is marketing this product package with a heavy emphasis on the energy savings these systems can produce. Says Bart Pasternak, the company's executive vice president, “We always want to have the core products that have gotten us to where we are today. But we want to blend in energy-efficient products.”

At Westinghouse Lighting Solutions, seeing is believing, so the company showcases the energy savings its products produce by illuminating its headquarters' offices and warehouse with its own products. The warehouse's lighting system uses one-fourth the energy of the previous system, and it delivers better light. Pasternak says the return on investment for the company's lighting systems is in some cases less than a year, and is quite often less than three years. That's before calculating the additional cost savings of any applicable utility rebates, which would make a lighting system pay back even faster.

Stan Angelo says because of the renewed energy consciousness in the marketplace, electrical distributors are in a good position to take advantage of the sales opportunities these energy-efficient lighting systems create. He and Pasternak say utility rebates, the Title 24 energy-efficient design standards in California, and the recent federal energy legislation have helped put energy-efficient lighting products in the spotlight.

Says Pasternak, “Electrical contractors come to electrical distributors looking for these kind of products. We saw this trend and started to convert our products. Westinghouse is now a fully integrated manufacturer of energy-saving lighting products. We manufacture the controls, ballasts, fixtures and lamps. We saw there was a whole new game afoot. There is no longer a question about being able to convert a 40W T12 to a 34W T12. It's a matter of converting a T12 to a T8 or to a T5.”

The company's senior management team and sales force are also excited about a new dimmer for compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) expected to hit the market in the second quarter of 2006. The new dimmer technology will allow for dependable dimming of CFLs, which for years has been a big concern in the lighting market. The dimmer will be available in three models: 150W, 250W and 400W.

Stan Angelo says one of the company's main goals in the near future is having its integration story make more sense to customers. “People are going to want solutions,” he says. “We see it all converging. We should be able to bring the electrical distributor channel solutions that up to now haven't been thought of. Nobody is really looking at these related products in a bundled fashion. That is our strategy going forward: Take this wonderful brand, and tie into the business units that collectively give us a lot of strength in the marketplace.”

About the Author

Jim Lucy | Editor-in-Chief of Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing

Jim Lucy has been wandering through the electrical market for more than 40 years, most of the time as an editor for Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing newsletter, and as a contributing writer for EC&M magazine During that time he and the editorial team for the publications have won numerous national awards for their coverage of the electrical business. He showed an early interest in electricity, when as a youth he had an idea for a hot dog cooker. Unfortunately, the first crude prototype malfunctioned and the arc nearly blew him out of his parents' basement.

Before becoming an editor for Electrical Wholesaling  and Electrical Marketing, he earned a BA degree in journalism and a MA in communications from Glassboro State College, Glassboro, NJ., which is formerly best known as the site of the 1967 summit meeting between President Lyndon Johnson and Russian Premier Aleksei Nikolayevich Kosygin, and now best known as the New Jersey state college that changed its name in 1992 to Rowan University because of a generous $100 million donation by N.J. zillionaire industrialist Henry Rowan. Jim is a Brooklyn-born Jersey Guy happily transplanted with his wife and three sons in the fertile plains of Kansas for the past 30 years. 

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