3 Big Questions Surrounding the KSA - Acuity Expansion

One of USA's largest lighting agents spans into neighboring territories -- along with Acuity Brands Lighting.

In recent years, KSA Lighting & Controls has solidified its position as the largest lighting agent serving Chicagoland - and some may say that the agency is among the largest 3 or 4 in the country.

On Thursday, KSA Lighting & Controls announced two major moves:

(1) KSA merges with Philip McCully & Associates - the long-time Central Illinois Acuity Brands agent that has been a rather large entity considering the smaller market that it serves.

(2) KSA Lighting & Controls will soon become the Acuity Brands Lighting agent for the Iowa market.

These moves are a slight departure from Acuity Brands' seemingly deliberate approach to minimize the size of agent footprints. While large multi-state, multi-territory lighting agents are somewhat common among other conglomerate lighting companies, Acuity generally tends to avoid the multi-state mega-rep approach. In fact, it wasn't too long ago when Acuity had separate agents in Cleveland and Akron. Yes, Akron. Acuity's decision to bless the McCully merger and award Iowa to KSA is a testament to the faith they have in Jim Williams, the rest of the KSA management team and the entire agency staff to execute this important initiative.

Over the years, we've seen agents like SESCO, Curtis H. Stout, Bell & McCoy, SCI, ALA, Reflex Lighting, Pacific Lighting Systems, One Source Associates and Hossley expand to take on partnering territories. While the plan is always to replicate original market dominance in the neighboring markets, the reality is that it takes time, money and unwavering perseverance to make it happen. Often, the neighboring territory can never seem to capture that same level of market share of the original agency home market.

While we've all seen territory expansions fail, this one has a lot in its favor. First, KSA is a market leader. Second, Acuity Brands is a market leader. Third, McCully has earned solid market share for decades in Central IL. The teams are operating from a position of strength in Chicagoland and Central Illinois, and have some work to do in Iowa to earn a market leadership role there.

Here are our 3 Big Questions surrounding the KSA-Acuity Expansion:

1. Will this add even more strength to KSA's Illinois coverage?

KSA and McCully have represented Acuity for a long time. They've likely collaborated successfully on many projects over the years. Yet, each agent would lose a little control when specification influences and job locations spanned the two agent territories. Those barriers disappear now -- which seemingly gives the new KSA more visibility and leverage to serve those multi-territory projects.

2. What will happen to M & M Lighting in Iowa?

The current Acuity agent in Iowa has a long history of serving the various pockets throughout Iowa. While they have a long line card that includes solid brands like Selux, Ecosense and SPI - it's hard to imagine that the post-Acuity agency can continue to package jobs and add value to the big distributors without some major changes. The most obvious moves for M & M would be to make a play for another conglomerate or merge with another agency. Potentially stressful times and big decisions ahead for M&M.

3. What will the independent spec lines do?

McCully and KSA have a large number of common lines. But what happens with some of those non-aligned exceptions like B-K Lighting? Do those spec lines stay with separate, competing agents in Central IL and Chicago?

RELATED: Read the KSA Lighting & Controls Press Release

Official Website: KSA Lighting & Controls

Chicago Lighting Agent List
Central Illinois Lighting Agent List
Iowa Lighting Agent List

July 28, 2017