April 6, 2024  

5 Things to Know:  Week Ending April 6

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An architectural lighting brand shifts ownership.  Plus, a nuanced look at the second-quarter lighting events calendar.


Here's a roundup of some of the week's happenings curated to help lighting people stay informed. 


1.  Ownership Transition at RBW

RBW, a New York-based architectural lighting manufacturer, has announced a change in ownership as co-founder Alex Williams steps down from his part-ownership role. Theo Richardson and Charles Brill, who co-founded the company 17 years ago along with Williams, will continue to lead RBW.

The company, which started as Rich Brilliant Willing in an East Village basement in New York City, has grown into a widely recognized architectural lighting brand. RBW has also established a 100,000-square-foot headquarters in Kingston, New York, to house its innovation and product operations. The company states that it is set to launch 17 new products this year.


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2 Upcoming Lighting Events

A quick summary of the second-quarter lighting-related events taking place in the U.S.:

Event Name and Location
LightSPEC West
Anaheim, California
April 17 - 18, 2024
IES Detroit Section Product Show
Detroit, Michigan
May 9, 2024
NAED National Meeting
Austin, Texas
May 21 - 23, 2024
AIA Conference on Architecture
Washington D.C.
June 5 - 8, 2024
Chicago, Illinois
June 10 - 12, 2024
Dallas, Texas
June 19 - 22, 2024
Lumen Awards Gala
New York, New York
June 20, 2024
Light! Design Expo
San Francisco, California
June 20, 2024
Lumen West | SoCal Illumination Awards
Los Angeles, California
June 28, 2024


Two major city events scheduled for Thursday, June 20, might cause scheduling conflicts for some: the Light! Design Expo and the Lumen Gala, which are happening 2,900 miles apart in San Francisco and New York CIty.

LightSpec West is set to take place later this month at the Anaheim Convention Center, featuring 51 exhibitors, a significant decrease from the 176 exhibitors attracted in 2022. The organizers recently issued an impressive report that over 1,500 lighting professionals have already registered for the expo, which, with 176 exhibitors last time, drew more than 1,300 attendees. This year, it shares the convention center with another Endeavor Business Media event, the Southern California Facilities Expo Show.


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3.   Converting Commercial Offices to Residential Buildings

In November, we highlighted an informative article from The New York Times that offered comprehensive insights into the complexities and hurdles of transforming commercial office buildings into residential spaces. Now, with access to that article restricted by a paywall, a new report about the global architectural firm Gensler delves deeper into the subject from an architectural standpoint.

Fast Company reports that under the leadership of architect Steven Paynter, Gensler introduced an innovative algorithm that significantly simplifies evaluating office buildings for potential residential conversion. Developed amidst the rise in vacant office spaces during the pandemic's initial phase, the algorithm assesses approximately 150 aspects of a building's architecture and design to swiftly ascertain its conversion feasibility.

Initially piloted in Calgary, Alberta, the tool has been employed on over 1,200 buildings globally, aiding in the conversion of around 150 buildings. This technological advancement not only expedites the decision-making process for developers and property owners but also promotes urban renewal by fostering residential development in downtown areas.


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4.   Abandoned Projects Spike

According to a recent report by ConstructConnect, the construction industry has witnessed a significant increase in project abandonments, with a 7% spike over the last month, particularly in publicly funded projects.

The Cincinnati-based company's Project Stress Index, which tracks construction projects that are paused, abandoned, or experiencing delayed bid dates, revealed this upward trend. Despite a 2% decrease in the index due to a 14% drop in paused projects and unchanged delayed bid activity, the rise in project cancellations, especially among public initiatives, is notable. ConstructConnect's senior economist, Michael Guckes, highlighted the steady increase in public project holds and abandonments as we progress through 2024, marking a continuation of historically high levels of project discontinuations.

Furthermore, ConstructConnect's analysis shows that abandonments have surged by 60% from their levels in 2021, underlining a significant shift in the construction landscape. On the public side, infrastructure projects saw a modest increase in holds but a substantial 40.8% jump in abandonments compared to the previous year. The private sector is also facing challenges, with a 105% increase in project holds, as exemplified by Jay Paul Co.'s recent postponement of a major tech campus in San Jose, California, amidst an unstable office market.

This ongoing volatility and the sustained high level of project abandonments reflect the industry's reaction to rising interest rates and broader economic uncertainties.


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5.   Border States, Big Moves

In a significant expansion move, Border States, one of the largest electrical distributors in the country, is set to acquire Dominion Electric Supply Company, Inc., a major player in the electrical distribution industry. The acquisition, which is slated for completion on May 1, 2024 will significantly enhance Border States' presence on the East Coast. Dominion Electric, established in 1940, boasts more than 300 employees across nine branches in Virginia and Maryland, generating over $374 million in annual sales. 

Concurrent with the acquisition of Dominion Electric Supply Company, Border States had previously announced a change in leadership. Jason Seger has replaced David White as CEO, effective April 1, 2024, following White's retirement. This leadership change, already disclosed, coincides with a period of growth for Border States. Seger, with a tenure at Border States beginning in 1999 and experience in roles such as executive VP of regions and president, is will lead the company following this transition. His appointment as CEO was part of a planned succession, aligning with the company’s ongoing developments, including the recent acquisition.