The ALA Conference brought leaders and industry professionals together in Austin, Texas from September 11-13 for three days of networking and education. Attendees heard expert insight on the shifts taking place in the housing market across the country. They learned about the tremendous opportunities facing the industry, as well as the affordability risks. All were left with fresh ideas to take their business to the next level!
On day one, Gerry O’Brion opened the conference with a keynote on creating disruptive strategies and messaging to attract your ideal customers. Gerry’s "Power of Because" framework has been used by retailers, manufacturers and distributors to clarify their message, drive referrals and close sales. His presentation offered a fun, thought-provoking dialogue that revealed how stand out in the "sea of sameness."
The first breakout session I attended was geared toward those looking to understand and improve shoppers' pre-store experience. We learned practical steps for helping shoppers navigate both online and in-store geared toward better sales, and more customer satisfaction. Speakers Justin Banner of OX Logic Corp and Julie Traughber of Lights America also gave tips for improving shoppers post-purchase and post-store experiences.
Lunch followed with a panel discussion featuring Tim Flannery, Executive Vice President, Minka Group; Paige Farrey, Farrey's Lighting & Bath; Ryan Berlin, Managing Partner, Spectrum Hulett Group; and Allan Margolin, M&M Lighting. Panelists talked about how manufacturers, sales agents and showrooms have addressed the many vital changes our industry has faced over the last two to three years. Topics included supply chain issues, cash flow, employee retention and new hires, returning to in person meetings and more.
Following lunch, Jennifer Brons, Light and Health research center and Professor Mark Rea, Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, held a breakout session on circadian lighting within the home. The duo explained that circadian lighting is based upon the idea that humans need bright days and dark nights to entrain their circadian rhythms for a healthy sleep/wake balance. What better place to implement circadian lighting than in the home where most people start and end the day?
I learned that manufacturers now aim to develop new residential fixture designs that will provide the proper amount of light when and where it is needed for kitchens, bathrooms, home offices, etc. The session also detailed how these new types of fixtures will look, their operational characteristics and how they should be applied and used in the home environment.
ALA's Women In Lighting event followed, with a special presentation from Betsy Allen-Manning, the founder of Motiv8u Enterprises. Her presentation provided a blueprint for becoming a more effective communicator and creating a sense of purpose beyond your paycheck. Betsy also shared what top companies have done to secure a "future-ready" workforce. A book signing followed, paired with a cocktail reception and networking!
Day two opened with a keynote presentation on the future of housing! John Burns, a real estate consultant, shared his firm's views of shifts in the housing market, digging into the details of what is happening across the country. He also discussed the temporary and possible permanent changes that will come about in the housing industry due to the pandemic.
Day two's morning breakout session was my favorite of the week! Peter Romaniello, IALD, Conceptual Lighting, gave attendees lighting layout and design tips, reviewing "typical" techniques for a variety of spaces. His session gave designers and retailers the confidence to know what they put on paper will work every time, and that the fixtures they select/specify will do what they expect them to!
Check out some of his project photos below, displaying lighting plans that accommodate both recessed and decorative lighting!
A closing reception and dinner commemorated the final evening, where conference attendees were able to say their goodbyes and congratulate the newest Lighting Hall of Fame Inductee. Clark Linstone, President & COO of Lamps Plus, was this year's 2022 inductee, well known across ALA and the lighting industry for his successful leadership and dedication to the betterment of the industry. He served on the ALA Board of Governors from 2009 to 2015, including as chairman in 2014.
The night closed with a live Texas Country performance from Chad Cooke Band!
We can't wait for ALA 2023 in Lake Tahoe!