“There has never been a more important time to hire a lighting designer. The overwhelming pressures concerning economy and energy conservation, along with the introduction of new light sources, make it very complicated to achieve ‘quality lighting' for anyone but a lighting professional. For that reason, we as a company must work together with the lighting designer to provide the precise fixtures that will allow them to succeed with project demands and yet still be creative.”
Daniel Gelman grew up with lighting. His father, Marvin Gelman, was the lighting director of The Tonight Show starring Steve Allen during the heyday of early, live television. In 1958, the senior Gelman founded Lighting Services Inc. Daniel Gelman spent summers working in the company factory, and while he initially had no plans to enter the lighting industry after graduation, it was the “people factor” that drew him in. He started with the company in 1983 as a sales manager and then became director of marketing followed by executive vice president before becoming president and CEO in 2000. No matter the executive position, he continues to lead the company and its 110 employees into the lighting industry's next evolution of products and technology, all while remaining true to his family's lighting roots.
With so many years in the industry, what do you still find fascinating about lighting?
I am continually fascinated by the people in our industry, and in terms of light, I'm amazed by its power to change our visual perceptions.
Is there a piece of advice your father gave you when you entered the lighting industry?
It wasn't so much advice as it was for me to create my own footprint that could work alongside him. Those are enormous shoes to fill, and I could never fill them.
What makes a great piece of lighting equipment?
It's knowing that you've collaborated, you've listened, and you've come up with a product that becomes a tool for the design community you serve.
What is the biggest misunderstanding about lighting technology and luminaire design?
That it's easy to produce well.
What do you consider innovative in lighting?
Innovation in lighting really comes from the creativity and application.
What are the traditions and foundations that are imperative to maintain at Lighting Services Inc.?
We love what we do here. Its about quality, reliability, integrity, service, caring, good people. Those are the words that we hope people will associate with when they place their trust and confidence in our company.
What are some of the most significant changes you've seen in the industry?
Light sources are one of the things that comes to mind. Our company was predominantly an incandescent sealed-beam fixture manufacturer. The next big thing was the MR16 lamp. That was followed by ceramic metal halide. And now of course, there is LED.
Your thoughts on LEDs?
For us to take an LED source and build a product around it, we really had to be confident in the fact that it was ready and it was appropriate for our customers. I am convinced that the remote phosphor technology has made LEDs market-ready.
Are there untapped resources people are overlooking because so much focus is on LEDs?
Low-wattage metal halide is still growing. I don't think that area has been saturated yet, at all.
How does a company “innovate” while dealing with the everyday aspects of running a business?
Staying true to your ideals while being flexible enough to adapt. Bottom line … it's difficult. You need to focus on the priorities that are important to your customer base.