Luminary - Rep: Brody Foy, Western Lighting, Irvine, Calif.
How did you get started in the industry?
I was introduced to the lighting industry in December 2003, when I started installing fixtures for Schonbek Worldwide Lighting in the Expo Design Centers. By spring 2004 at the direction of my boss, Jeff Jarvie, I started representing Dale Tiffany portables as well as Holtkötter International floor and table lamps. By the June Dallas market of the same year I started repping in addition to doing the installations at the Expo Design Centers.
This was all happening while dating and marrying my wife, Ann Jarvie (daughter of my employer), while attending Long Beach State University (graduating in 2010). So you could say that I got into the family business and yet fell into the business at the same time.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen?
The biggest change I’ve seen in the industry has been the way technology has changed since I started – whether it is the way we turn a light on, lamping (incandescent, fluorescent, and LEDs), or the way that lighting showrooms and reps write and submit orders.
I’ve been able to witness both the positives and negatives of how the Internet has affected the way that we now do business. An example of this change is in communication between all levels (showroom to rep to manufacturer and back to the showroom). Email has made it so that we can address our customers’ questions and concerns almost immediately.
What is the greatest challenge?
In my opinion the biggest challenge we have is creating interest so that younger sales reps will come into the lighting industry. It is evident during the sales meetings during the Dallas Market that I have experienced that mature reps are in the vast majority. When you look at the attendance of the Young Executives group during this past market, it was the highest attendance that they have ever had, and that was because we opened it up to all the attendees that are 40 and under. If we could find a way to tap into that group of college graduates that come out of business schools each year, I could see the lighting industry changing for the better in the future as they would have the opportunity to learn from the current generation of reps.
What is the key to your success?
The biggest key has been my boss and father-in-law Jeff Jarvie. He has shown me what it means to be a good rep, how to work hard, and how to really enjoy what I do for work. He has been my mentor in all ways; from showing me how to install Schonbek chandeliers in Expo to how to be the most effective in sales meetings whether they took place in Dallas or in a customer’s showroom. He has shown me the importance of being respected by customers, manufacturers, and peers alike by trouble-shooting and finding out the best possible solution for all parties involved.
To succeed, I have focused on hard work and the ability to understand the needs of my customers and their end-users. I also make sure I am up to date on product knowledge for the lines I represent so that I am confident in the answering questions myself rather than having to refer them to the manufacturers.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
I would have gotten involved in the benefits of networking through the Young Executives group in the American Lighting Association (ALA) earlier. These associations have helped me to grow, develop, and also reinforce the lessons I’ve learned from my father-in-law and my ability to apply those lessons to my business. Good relationships are essential in our associations with our customers and with each other in the industry.
What do you think the future holds?
I see a lot of changes coming to the lighting industry, both legislative and within the industry that manufacturers will be making themselves. I expect the government, especially in California, will continue to change the types of bulbs that will be “allowed” for use, and that action will ultimately change the way that manufacturers design their fixtures. I have observed more manufacturers following the lead of WAC by increasing their LED product line and expanding the percentage of their annual LED sales. Based on what is evident in other industries, I expect to see that even more manufacturers will start to make their fixtures here in the U.S. and help drive the “made in the USA” movement.