LEGEND – Manufacture: Ira Phillips, Quoizel
How did you get started in the industry?
Before I entered the lighting industry, I was a diamond salesman who no longer wanted to travel. I was presented with an opportunity at Lightolier and worked for them for about five years. One day I put an ad in the newspaper and was discovered and hired by Quoizel in 1964 to oversee direct sales and merchandising. I quickly turned my title into partner at the company by 1966.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen?
I can’t believe how some of our major companies have evolved over time; some examples are Capitol Lighting, Lamps Plus, Connecticut Lighting, and many more. They have found a way to merchandise and market products that have blown me away. When I walk into showrooms today, my eyes light up because products are shown in such a different and unique way from when I first entered the industry.
The Great Recession was the worst things to happen to the industry. It harmed a lot of our friends, customers, and competitors.
What is the greatest challenge?
One of the biggest is how technology is changing the way we have to do business – manufacturers and retailers alike. The only strategy for overcoming this challenge is to simply adapt to the change at hand. However, once you think you have a handle on it, technology changes again.
Another challenge [concerns] how to put together a succession plan for the next generation to take over Quoizel. We have a great team in place that is evolving into the future where we will continue to be on the forefront of the lighting industry.
What has been the key to your success?
To always treat customers and employees like family, with lots of love and respect. I have always said, “If we treat Quoizel well, Quoizel will be good to us.”
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
To always have fun and be optimistic about your business. Also, to surround yourself with a strong team. Surrounding yourself with the right people in the right departments is what makes a company a family.
What do you think the future holds?
When business evolves, it presents hurdles as well as opportunities. There are always leaders that bring things to the next level and I am excited to see what is going to come next! The next generation of showrooms is definitely something to be on the lookout for.
I think there will be a lot less print advertising in the future with technology always evolving. The incandescent light bulb, I believe, will be something of the past in the next couple of years.