This month continues our series of recognizing the outstanding up-and-comers in our industry who have already made a significant impact while in their 20s.
Meet Nathan Sperling
Maxim Group Companies
How long at company/title: 5 Years as Director/Product Management
How I ended up in lighting: Maxim Lighting is a family business, so I was exposed to lighting at a very early stage. As I grew, so did my interest. I was surrounded by talented people in the industry — from designers to electricians, whom more often than not felt like extensions of my immediate family. Personal and professional life blurred lines as weekends at the office or summer vacations at the factory felt natural. Visits to glass factories and production facilities, or a trip to a museum for inspiration increased my passion and understanding of design.
I continued my interest through my college experience at Cal Poly San Louis Obispo, focusing on design and learning critical technical skills related to the history, math, and finance of design. Upon graduating, I immersed myself fully in the trade by moving to China. Given the early introduction into lighting from industry experts and the passion pursued throughout my growing years, I have been able to spearhead change, innovation, and development early in my career. I’m now humbled by the calls and emails from people seeking my advice or opinion on the lighting industry. It is of central importance to me that I am as helpful as possible to everyone so we can build a stronger network of lighting.
What I would be doing if not in the lighting industry: I could not be happier with my career at Maxim. I studied Architecture and Construction Management at college, and while I was wooed by a number of the largest Civil Engineering and Architecture firms in the world (who offered exciting and alluring career plans and packages), it is lighting where I feel most rewarded. Lighting is in my DNA and choosing Maxim was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I get to design and problem solve every day — and I get to do it with my family.
Job accomplishment that I am most proud of to date: It is critical to continually explore and improve, and I am proud of my part in that continuous push. We have taken on more risks in innovation and branched out into new lighting categories through my direct leadership. Every step forward, while new, was done so purposefully and with a consciousness towards the sustainability and quality of the execution. This has brought us success with such categories like fandeliers, illuminated furniture, and now smart home technologies.
With Smart Home technology, for example, we researched a number of technologies. We first entered this area in partnership with Philips Hue to introduce the first fully integrated LED Smart Home Lighting products in North America. It was important for us to develop products that would easily communicate with the systems available. We now want to make this technology even more widespread given the convenience, security, and health benefits we now understand. We were able to create designs in ET2 that not only had these features, but were approachable in pricing. We now want to bring practical pieces that can be used in volume with features that will change the way we live through lighting.
What I like about the industry: I love how much creativity there is! Lighting is such an interesting medium, and the tools and technologies being developed make for a much richer expression of art. I’ve always had an interest in finding practical applications of art, and lighting has this brilliant inventiveness to the products out there.
What I wish were different: Lighting, especially on the decorative residential side, is the best-kept secret when it comes to lifetime opportunities. It is ripe with talented individuals, whether it’s business development, compliances, design, technology, etc. However, there is little known of this industry outside the virtual walls which contain its current members. I was fortunate enough to know of this wonderful extension of family of sorts having come from a family business. I wish there was better exposure for newcomers to this industry, such as through an industry-wide mentorship or internship program.
Where I hope my lighting career will take me: I’d like to expand Maxim into new categories of lighting. I am committed to learning, developing, sharing, and advancing the industry in perpetuity through my role at Maxim Companies. I aspire to continue to introduce new categories of lighting when there is a need, and to add value to an area that is not yet fully realized.
I also intend to continue to expand our geographical footprint to furnish additional settings in a meaningful and enlightening way. The specifics of when, how, and what are to be determined through a keen and constant evaluation of the environment.