January 14, 2022
5 Things to Know: Week Ending January 14
Yet another Chicago lighting market update. Back to normal lead times?
Here's a roundup of some of the week's happenings curated to help lighting people stay informed.
1. Canada proposes to ban H.I.D. lamps
Earlier this week, we were so excited to be the first lighting and electrical industry media publication to detail Canada's most recent proposed fluorescent ban, that we glossed over the fact that Canada is also eying a ban of Metal Halide and the High Pressure Sodium lamps, too.
The Canadian government is seeking to cease the manufacturing and import of metal halide lamps for general lighting purposes on December 31, 2023. Sale of metal halide lamps would be prohibited after December 31, 2026. High pressure sodium vapor lamps would have manufacturing/import cutoff date of December 2028 and sales cutoff of December 2031.
2. Acuity Brands seeks to "expand the geographic markets" that it serves
Atlanta-based Acuity Brands generates most of its $4 billion annual revenues in North American markets. Unlike Netherlands-based lighting rival, Signify, who derives revenues from a more globally fragmented geographical footprint, it’s rare to hear Acuity Brands talk about end markets outside of North America.
This week, during its first quarter earnings call, Acuity Brands CEO Neil Ashe made a notable mention of some international business in the context of controls brand, Distech. Acuity Brands management have indicated in the past that they are not interested in shipping high bays and 8-foot architectural luminaires to Europe and Asia, but it seems that the company’s Intelligent Spaces Group is eyeing Europe and possibly other parts of the world for its Distech and Atrius lighting controls solutions.
The company owns two facilities in Europe occupied by Holophane Europe Ltd. in Great Britain and Distech Controls SAS in Brignais, France.
Neil Ashe on Monday: “Our Distech product portfolio of controls and sensors is winning in the marketplace, largely in North America and France, and it has broader applicability. Therefore, we are focusing on increasing the addressable market for Distech. The first step is expanding the geographic markets that we serve. This effort is off to a promising start in the U.K. We are assembling the right group of independent systems integrators and are already delivering customer wins, including a large multi-million-dollar multi-year contract.”
“In October, I was in Europe and had the opportunity to visit a large mixed-use construction site in Lyon, which was using a full suite of our Distech products to control the entire space. This installation is a great example of the power of a full Distech implementation with HVAC, lighting and shade control throughout all areas and for all tenants of the space. We look forward to continuing our market penetration in France, while we grow in the U.K.”
3. Rising construction backlog
Construction backlog remains at its highest level since the second quarter of 2019. This has been especially true in the South, which has been the case for many of the past several years.
“Contractors enter the new year with plenty of optimism,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Backlog remains elevated, which means that, even if the economy were to enter recession this year, contractors would likely be insulated from significant harm. Rather than fixate on the possibility of a recession, many contractors remain focused on growth, with expectations for rising sales and staffing levels over the next half year. Even the reading on profit margins increased this month, perhaps reflecting an improved supply chain.”
4. Back to Normal Lead Times?
Feedback from various North American lighting and controls makers is that supply chain challenges have eased, but lead times are still prolonged compared to pre-pandemic times.
This week, lighting controls maker Casambi issued a memo to its North American business partners indicating that lead times have returned to 2-3 weeks, as they were before the pandemic. This is notable as Casambi’s products rely heavily upon microprocessors, which we still understand is an issue for other companies that rely on similar components.
5. Chicago lighting market update
This is unintentionally becoming a weekly feature:
On December 16, inside.lighting was the first and only media site to report that the Chicago lighting agent lawsuit, Force Partners vs. KSA Lighting & Controls, Acuity Brands, Jim Williams and Ashley Williams had reached a settlement in principle. On Wednesday, the case was officially dismissed by the courts.
The parties paid for their own legal expenses.
The defendants continue to deny any wrongdoing.
On Friday, Force Partners sent a memo to business partners indicating changes that the agency is making as it transitions from the Cooper Lighting agent to an independent agent. Force indicated that it has made personnel changes by “assisting with the transition of several inside team members to new positions in the industry.” The Force Partners website has cited 33 team members since November 11, 2022.