The pace of business change has become as fast as the pace of industrial change, with the process of “creative destruction” reshaping the business landscape on a daily basis. As you might expect, some of these changes have been in the lighting industry. Here are a few:
General Electric becomes less electric
If any company would be a rock that the stream of business change would flow around, you would think GE would be the one. After all, it’s more than 125 years old, was founded by Thomas Edison himself and was one of the original 12 Dow Jones companies.
But in a move few would have imagined even 20 years ago, GE is getting out of the lighting business. In an effort to restructure, GE leadership has closed their automotive lighting division and no longer sells any lighting product in Europe, Africa or the Middle East.
A GE division called Current uses LED lighting and advanced digital control systems to optimize energy efficiency for industrial and retail customers. Even though it was only founded in 2015, it’s being sold to the private equity firm American Industrial Partners. Other divisions and product lines, including consumer lighting, will be sold off as 2019 progresses.
Phillips makes a name change
Another 125 year old company is keeping its divisions, but altering their moniker. In a change that’s simple, but portends a very different approach, Phillips’ lighting division is now called Signify. Industry experts point to Philips’ interest in making their future home and business products part of the Internet of Things, but Phillips’ CEO said the rebrand is also about light being a language.
Osram says “Auf Wiedersehen” to more lighting segments
When you visit your local hardware store, you’ll find a variety of LED lighting products (mainly bulbs) labeled “Osram” or “Osram Sylvania.” The German company Osram is a household name in Europe, but these products are actually made by the North American division of the German company LEDVANCE, which was born when Osram left that portion of the market in 2016. Osram will soon cease making light fixtures, and no plans to sell the division were announced. This follows a year when they cut their earnings forecast twice.
Osram has been trying to solve its financial problems (which have been partly caused by a weakening of the dollar compared to the euro) by shedding less profitable product lines and divisions. Like Phillips, Osram has been looking ahead to lighting’s role in the Internet of Things, but has had a much rockier road integrating that vision. They’re also focusing more on semiconductor manufacturing and digital solutions, and by November had reorganized the company into Automotive, Digital and Opto Semiconductor divisions.
What hasn’t changed
At Thayer, our goal is to help you choose the best technology for your business, and keeping up with industry trends is part of that service. As the industry shifts and technology improves, we’ll keep an eye out for opportunities to save you money and improve your spaces. No matter what changes, you can count on us.