Spotlight on: Amerlux

Amerlux offers a wide-range of lighting products designed to maximize energy savings without sacrificing quality.  

Hornet-HP-TrackThere is no forcing solutions down the throats of customers at Amerlux, a supplier of LED lighting fixtures for supermarkets and other retailers.

In fact, the company’s philosophy—and what its top executives think sets it apart from the competition—is just the opposite. They want to give their customers, which includes hundreds of supermarket chains and some high-end specialty retailers like Victoria’s Secret and Bloomingdale’s, the exact solution they are looking for, even if it means creating lighting fixtures that are specific to each operation.

“We never take our eyes off of what is important to each and every one of our retail customers,” says Bill Plageman, vice president of marketing, product management and customer service for the Oakland, N.J.-based company. “We listen to what they need and offer a solution for each design application throughout the store. I would say that many of our standard products offered today are a result of listening to our customers specific needs.”

Lighting has probably never been more important to grocery retailers, many of whom are looking for every angle to get shoppers to feel more comfortable in their stores and, of course, in the process get them to purchase more products. With the correct lighting products, whites are whiter, breads are warmer, produce more colorful and fish are fresher. In other words, the items need to pop to get the consumer more interested in buying products and coming back to the store time and time again. Lighting can instill a sense of comfort, freshness and cleanliness—which all play a major part in building brand loyalty.

And, with energy costs rapidly increasing, retailers are always looking for more energy-efficient lighting fixtures that can produce significant cost savings. That demand, coupled with more and more strict federal and state government regulations on what products can be used in-store, has made this one pretty complicated marketplace.

Amerlux officials are confident that they are on top of the situation. They appear to have fine-tuned the science of in-store lighting at grocery stores, at least if you listen to Plageman, who modestly says the company is known as the “high-profit supermarket lighting guys.” The 30-year-old privately-owned company, founded by Frank Daissi, who is still very actively involved in the company, offers a wide range of ceramic metal halide and LED lighting products, each designed to help retailers maximize the energy and maintenance savings without the sacrifice of color and contrast on product and packaging. He adds that if the products customers are looking for are not among its offerings; Amerlux will help design a custom solution.

In the past, retailers did not have many choices when it came to lighting their products and merchandise. Conventional sources such as Par halogen delivered crisp beams of light but were not efficient. Not only were they expensive to operate and had a very short life, they also delivered heat in the beam that dried out produce reducing shelf life. Amerlux was one of the first to offer them a solution.  “We introduced retailers to Ceramic Metal Halide, a solution that reduced operating cost and delivered beautiful color,” says Plageman, adding that between 2007 to 2009 Amerlux was one of the first companies to start to design fixtures with LED sources for the grocery market as they were always early adopters of new technologies that reduced energy and maintenance cost.

Amerlux’s products have always focused on helping illuminate the high-margin fresh sections of the store, where lighting matters most as consumers seek the most fresh meats, floral, produce, dairy and bakery products. “These are high profit areas that require the finest, most strategic lighting solutions,” the company says on its website. “We know how critical the right light, color and temperature are to help position not only these ‘power alleys’ but a retailer’s dry goods, cash wrap and cooler aisles as well.”

Now, Plageman says the company is rolling out lighting products designed specifically for the entire supermarket, especially in-aisle displays, with directional LED technology that places the most light on the on-shelf merchandise, instead of highlighting non-critical areas. “The new line is called Producer and it is an LED aisle lighting product with batwing distribution,” he says. “It allows us to focus the light on the verticals and not on the floor and it does not waste crucial light and energy.”

The whole process is a give and take, with one goal in mind: getting the right product into the application within the store. Plageman says that the first step is educating retailers about the advancements in lighting. “If we don’t teach them about the choices in this category, they are going to buy LED lighting products based solely on price,” he adds. “Then, they are likely to buy new replacements just a year or so later. Without the knowledge of how a quality LED product produces light they can’t make the comparison between quality and cost.”

With about 300 employees, two manufacturing plants in the U.S.—New Jersey and Texas—and a China operation, Plageman believes that Amerlux has all its bases covered. “We have a great team here. For example, we have optical, electrical and thermal engineers that spend their days assuring that heat is controlled for long life and light is delivered on target with as little energy as possible. But don’t just take my word for it.  We offer our retailers free mockups so they can see for themselves before they purchase,” he says. “We will light up one of their produce departments and make sure the recipe for lighting does exactly what the retailer wants based on their displays.”

Plageman says the company has produced solid double-digit growth over the years. But he and the team at Amerlux are not willing to rest on their laurels. In fact, he knows that they cannot and still remain an industry leader. “LED technology is evolving so fast that every six months or so we have more efficient sources that contain more lumens per watt and produce better color,” he notes. “We can never slow down just because the technology will never allow us to. All we do is lighting, nothing else.

“It is all part of our corporate playbook. Amerlux employees are known for their passion to their market and to their technologies,” he adds. “We take care of our customers and make sure that the end result is exactly what they want. It is the most important thing to us.”

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