The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: LFI 2018 Recap

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and no, we’re not queuing the Christmas music. We’re talking about another exciting week at Light Fair International, which was hosted in the Windy City this year, Chicago, Illinois. The venue was incredible with plenty of space for manufacturers and vendors to show off their latest lighting and lighting control innovations. After attending this popular industry tradeshow for 10+ years, I can confidently say the booths this year were the best to date. Speaking of which, one of my favorite eye-catching displays was the all-new, dynamic color changing Rubik from Acuity Brands’ Mark Architectural Lighting.

IoT, The Internet of Things, was yet again a hot topic at LFI. Many of the manufacturers who were using the buzzword seemed to have different and varying capabilities with this innovation. It’s exciting to see so many follow in the footsteps of Acuity Brands, who we know was a pioneer in the IoT revolution.

I was pleasantly surprised that track lighting is back and it’s better than ever! Manufacturers, like XAL Move-It and Bruck Lighting Smart Track had sleek track systems on display, and PureEdge was showing off their incorporated Trueline look to create a mud-in track system.  I personally believe the versatility of track lighting, the sleek, minimalistic design, European inspiration are the large drivers for why this lighting solution is making a comeback!

Could you imagine a world where lights act as a means for disinfection? I saw this idea come to life at the Visa Lighting booth. In partnership with Vital Vio, Visa introduced their “Disinfecting Luminaires”. The LED technology protects environments from harmful bacteria by emitting a white light that is safe for both humans and animals.  Looking forward to sharing the technology with anyone and everyone in San Diego who is responsible for healthcare design!  Make sure you click on the Visa Lighting Link above for more information!

Another big play in the new products category was Horticultural Lighting.  Manufacturers like SpecGrade LED, Beghelli, and Sonaray all had new products on display. Horticultural lighting, although it has been around for a while, I feel is being taken to a whole new level with technological advancements through color, wavelength, product design, and placement.  And if you think everything you have learned about lighting for humans applies to horticultural lighting, I am quickly learning that is not true!  The terminology and science that is specific to growing plants is a whole new ballgame. The manufacturers I mentioned above have great resources to help us all learn the ins and outs of effective horticultural lighting!

Congratulations are in order for many of our manufacturers who brought their A game to LFI 2018. Alphabet Lighting won top honor with their “Most Innovative Product of the Year” award for its NU Vector Series!  Other winners were Mark Lighting Chisel, Juno FlexConnect and the SensorSwitch VLP App, who were all recognized as “best of” in their respective categories.  FlexConnect also won a “Design Excellence” award.  One of the coolest products I saw at the show was the digital tension system from TLS international. See the product in action here.

Finally, LFI has always been a great place to learn from some of the best in the industry.  Having my NCQLP LC Certification, I need continuing education credits to maintain the certification and to keep up with the fast-paced and innovative lighting landscape!  I was able to take a few classes to satisfy some continuing education credit needs, but more importantly, learn more about topics that are some of the most talked about in the industry today. We strive to be subject matter experts at SDLA so we can share the information we learn with our San Diego lighting colleagues!  Understanding continuing education is important for many, we offer classes at least once a month on a variety of topics through our SDLA Academy curriculum. A quick reminder that SDLA is also an AIA approved CEU provider so we are able to deliver AIA/HSW CEU presentations on-demand when the need for credits arise!

Back to School with NECA

As an Associate Member of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), SDLA was cordially invited to participate in the California Title 24 training course on April 20th, hosted at the NECA San Diego office. These training courses exist as a valuable resource for union electrical contractors of IBEW Local 569. NECA training courses help electrical contractors take their career to the next stage with tailored courses in traditional and new technologies. We enjoyed participating in the event where NECA San Diego hosted a great presentation with breakfast and an afternoon BBQ.

Martin Dodd from Energy Soft was the keynote speaker, while Joshua Desoto of NECA hosted the event. Martin provided an extensive overview of how Title 24 is approached and applied in the industry. Martin not only reviewed the requirements contractors need to be aware of but went into detail on how to decipher and implement the variety of Title 24 forms. This four-hour training course was highly interactive throughout, with Martin calling on us to speak to our wealth of knowledge of different Title 24 requirements and solutions. Chris Bale (SDLA Contractor Salesman) and I were heavily involved in giving code and project insight based on our controls department’s vast experiences. Attendees were kept engaged as well by being asked to share their questions, different experiences and advice when dealing with Title 24 code requirements. After the conclusion of the presentation, Chris and I were available to give attendees project specific solutions and advice.

NECAOur controls team was excited to be invited because of our expertise in Title 24 requirements and compliances in the San Diego area and we enjoyed the opportunity to support NECA, Martin, and those in attendance with specific lighting and lighting controls questions. NECA training emphasizes the importance of continuing education and it’s an organization we are proud to support. We look forward to supporting NECA San Diego and our electrical community with future trainings and projects.

If you have any questions regarding Title 24, or any project specific solutions you can implement to meet compliance requirements, email me at!

Meet The Team: Chris Bale

Chris Bale doesn’t mind being reminded that he’s the “old guy” in the office because he loves the chance to be a mentor in the industry. Chris is a born and raised San Diegoian, and when he’s not out in the field as a contractor/distributor sales lead, he’s taking life one wave at a time on his paddleboard. Chris also loves to spend time with his daughter, who is a freshman in college right here in San Diego. Are you ready for a far-out meet the team with one of San Diego’s favorite soul surfers?

Q: How did you get started in the lighting industry?

CB: Initially I didn’t think I’d end up following in my father’s footsteps but as fate had it, I was an electrical distributor for 30 years. I was born into that field and was lucky to find a job in that industry. Two years ago, I decided it was time for a change and SDLA was always my first choice to work with when I was on the electrical distributor side, so it made perfect sense to come work for them as a lighting contractor/distributor sales lead. I’ve known the owners for over 40 years and knowing they take customer service seriously, it was easy to take that leap of faith to leave the electrical industry for the lighting industry.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

CB: I love having the opportunity to give back to the industry. I have no problem being known as the “old guy” in the office because I love mentoring some of the up-and-comers. Things are always changing in this field and I have the best of both worlds because I can help a new professional navigate the industry while also getting to hear their fresh perspective.

Q: What does a work day look like for you?

 CB: Customer service is at the core of my job, so my day is dictated by what the customer needs at that time. Some days I’m in the office preparing a quote or proposal for a client and then the next, I’m out in the field connecting with contractors and distributors. It’s such a great balance; I have the chance to immerse myself in the field with new experience but always have a place to call home here, back at the office. In the past as an electrical distributor, it was difficult to feel as part of the staff because I was always on the road, but in this position, I’ve always felt as a member of the team.

Q: What do you like best about the culture at SDLA?

CB: Everyone here gets along fantastically; we are all focused on servicing the customer, which centers us all on one common goal. I can definitely echo the idea that we are one big family. Coming to work is like going to a family get-together, your weird Uncle Gary is here, and we definitely have dysfunctional fun.