Like many in the lighting industry, Gerard Harbers didn’t intentionally pursue a career in lighting. It found him. Trained as an optical engineer in the Netherlands, Harbers was working in the field of optical testing and recording for CDs. In 1996, an opportunity to join Philips Lighting presented itself as the company was getting into solid-state lighting. In 2000, he joined Philips Lumileds, and that move eventually brought him to the United States. Frustrated by the color quality of LEDs he was seeing, he co-founded Xicato with Menko Deroos and Mark Pugh in 2007. In turn, the company has created what many in the industry consider the “gold standard” for LED color.
What fascinates you about light?
Light is all about the lit effect and how that affects people, how you can enjoy a space.
Is there a text that has had an impact on your thinking about light and lighting technologies?
Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm (HarperBusiness, 2006). There’s a huge paradigm shift right now from analog to digital lighting and that’s exactly what this book discusses—how to deal with these disruptive technologies in the market.
What makes a great luminaire?
It goes back to the lit effect. It needs to be able to provide great color, have good beam control, so there is uniformity and contrast of surface textures without creating glare. It also has to look good, be reliable, and be easy to install.
What makes one product successful in the marketplace and not others?
It’s something Moore speaks about in his book. There are two types of customers: early adopters and those who are a bit more conservative. At some point you have to make the switch from selling a specific technology to selling the quality and value of a product. It’s about having the consumer be excited about the product and serving as your “sales force.”
How do you define innovation?
Creating something new with a clear purpose.
What are some untapped areas in which lighting still has room to grow?
Understanding the human visual system and lighting control systems.
How does Xicato build on its success as it continues to evolve as a company?
It’s all about having a great team. Our goal is to serve the industry with reliable products that provide good color.