NAILD : Rebranded & Rebounding

Exhibitors displayed some good products, a great product, and one dog.  No longer is the organization Male, Pale, and Stale. 

The National Association of Independent Lighting Distributors is no more. Independent has been replaced with Innovative and the NAILD has rebranded itself and is welcoming new members, including non-independent members.

The Old NAILD conference that I attended in the ninety’s is phasing out. Basically the conference was a vacation for owners of large independent lighting distributors funded, in large part, by Philips, GE, and Sylvania each paying $25,000 to $50,000 to sponsor various parties.   Those days—and revenues—are gone.

Moving forward, the NAILD conference will focus more on education and less on luxurious venues.  Instead of distributor owners heading to Florida for a family vacation, NAILD will target younger, fresher faces with world-class training.  While training will focus on the technical aspects of lighting, it will also have a selling component and help distributor salespeople write orders

No longer is this the good ole boy’s club of yesteryear. Male Pale and Stale are the buzzwords they use to describe the former organization—and they have fixed all three at the top level:

  • Male.  Rebecca Phillips of Professional Lighting is the current president.
  • Pale.  Robin Watt, incoming president, from C.N. Robinson Lighting Supply is Jamaican.
  • Stale. The organization is full of young members who are gaining seats on the Board such as Cory Schneider of Lighting Unlimited.

Several members explained that NAILD will open the organization to national electrical distributors as well as ESCO’s.  They have two current education models the LS1 and the LS2, and very soon they will offer their third component, LSC—which focuses on controls.  Although the LS1 and LS2 are not recognized by the NCQLP, NAILD hopes to have this recognition late this year.

As we prepare for LIGHTFAIR, we are always on the look out for exciting products for our Top 10 MUST SEE list.   We saw some very nice products in their Product Sprint, which is a fascinating exercise where each manufacturer has one minute to pitch their product to the distributors and the distributors vote on the best products. 

GREEN CREATIVE won the Best Luminaire award for their THINFIT series, which is a very clever six inch and four inch downlight replacement with a built in junction box. 

Keystone won the best ballast category with their Smart Safe LED Emergency Battery back up kit, which can convert any non-emergency fixture into an LED backup with a remote LED board, driver and battery.   Keystone won this category as well as the best overall product. 

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Although we have seen few exciting products from Philips in the past years, the InstantFit TLED with EasySmart technology may be a real winner.  It is so impressive that we’ll consider it for our Top 10 list. Basically it is a TLED with built-in a Zigby wireless control.  April Ruedaflores did a great job explaining using her fitbit and iPhone in the analogy.   One simply changes the fluorescent tubes to the LED tubes—saving approximately 50% in energy—and  then the lamps can be wirelessly tuned and controlled without rewiring the fixture.    This is a true plug-and play system and is priced competitively.  Philips won in the best lamp category.

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Contrast the Philips plug-and-play wireless dimming to the Universal Lighting Technology LRA LED Retrofit Kit Assembly, which reminded me of something from the 1990’s.  Basically it was a piece of sheet metal with an LED tube on one side and a driver mounted to the backside.  It is designed to retrofit a fluorescent strip, where the contractor is to remove the fluorescent tubes, remove the strip panel, cut the input leads, strip the leads, and mount the new strip panel.  It seems like a lot of work and I think most contractors would simply replace the tubes with plug-and-play TELDs.

Dimming is an option, but I was told it was wired dimming, which can be difficult in a retrofit application.  Also, I learned that the price point was about $70—not sure if that was Distributor or End User, but it doesn’t matter given that we are seeing TLEDs sell to distributors in the $6 range. We know Universal was a leader in the legacy ballast days and perhaps this product is one way to keep their factories busy, but If there is a market for this retrofit kit, I was not able to understand it.  We contacted a spokesperson for Universal who explained a few other benefits, such as 140,000 hour life, the ability to refresh the look of an older fixture, and wet-location use.   

Lutron beat Universal for the best accessory with their user-friendly mobile tool to help customers find the combination.  This was an incredibly easy app. 

Overall we find the NAILD doing the right things to make their conference, and more importantly, their organization, again, meaningful.