Meet The Team: Will Laws

Submarine Veteran, newlywed, and now SDLA controls technician, Will Laws has a whirlwind story to tell! After growing up in the desert of San Diego and doing “desert things” like off-roading and motorcycling, Will is a hometown boy who loves everything San Diego has to offer. After getting married, Will landed a job with Acuity Brands, traveling throughout the West Coast, the airlines being his commute. For SDLA, Will has limited his region back to his hometown, traveling to different job sites, are you ready to meet the man behind the wheel?

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

WL: I also came from the mothership, Acuity Brands. I had a background in network security management and started working with Acuity in October. I got my foot in the door because their manager was a former Navy Submariner like myself. I was working in region one, flying up and down the coast and I was on a project for Acuity when I met Danny. After receiving a great impression of SDLA from that project, I was excited to join the team when they offered me a job back in March 2018.

Q: What’s your day to day like in the office?

 WL: The job involves a lot of hands-on troubleshooting and that’s my favorite part. When walking through a site you have to go through the process and trust it. I work most closely with the electrical contractors and Foreman on the job so there is a lot of important relationship building in my day-to-day. Whenever I’m on the site I’m positive, productive and helpful. If there is an opportunity to train the foreman/lineman or share my insight, I jump at the opportunity because it keeps SDLA in their mind for future projects.

Q: Do you have a favorite/rewarding project that you’ve worked on?

WL: I had the chance to work on the Kaiser Permanente project when they were having trouble with their backnet and LCD system. I was able to go in and solve the problem and leave that day with the system working to its full potential. Another rewarding project was with Zara, the clothing store. Their store lights had failed, and they had to close up shop, which meant that they were losing money as each minute passed. I came in late on a Friday and had the lights back up soon after. Their team was very appreciative. It’s always a great feeling to be the guy with the answers or solution, providing clients with the best product never gets old.

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

 WL: SDLA may have the appearance of a stale corporate environment, with the cubicles and white walls but the people really add a ton of color to this company. The environment is very relaxed and welcoming and there is a ton of comradery. We have three principals, Kristin, Brian and Danny, who have an open door policy. I’ve never been timid to walk into one of their offices and ask a question or seek help. There is so much knowledge at SDLA and it’s always flowing.

When the Lighting Industry Meets the Farming Industry

Horticultural Lighting is the fastest growing segment of the LED lighting industry. Fueled by a continual rise in population, and availability of limited agricultural land, there is an increasing need for indoor grow spaces and greenhouses.

The “Horticulture Lighting Market by Technology, Application, Cultivation, Lighting Type, Offering, and Region – Global Forecast to 2023”  predicts the horticultural lighting market to grow from USD 2.43 billion in 2018 to 6.2 billion by 2023.

Traditional light sources, HID & fluorescent, have long been the trusted lighting solution for indoor grow facilities. However, with the advancements in technologies, LED grow lighting has erased early doubts and proven to be a vital and essential element in the horticultural industry.

Why LED grow lights?

In addition to significant energy savings, LED Horticultural Lighting provides growers with customization, modularity, and the ability to optimize plant growth and wealth. In a controlled indoor environment, LED grow lights produce higher yields for year-round grow cycles for plants, fruits, vegetables, flowers and legal cannabis.

An LED grow light system will generate the same or better illumination than a traditional lighting system, with less than half of the electrical energy input. With the reduced heat output of LED’s versus traditional lighting sources, the use of LED lighting will also help reduce the demand on the HVAC system, offering additional energy savings.

Where will LED Grow lights be installed?

Vertical Farming: maximize every cubic foot of a growing space by utilizing vertically stacked structures to grow products in a tight, controlled space.

Greenhouses: combine natural sunlight and artificial light, in addition to trapping humidity and moisture to emulate a true growing environment.

Warehouses: An artificial growing environment that relies on the complete system of lighting and HVAC to best reflect an outdoor environment.

With the increased demand for indoor horticultural farming, there will be an increase in demand for horticultural lighting design along with an array of questions.

• What are the important factors to consider when designing horticultural lighting?
• How do I calculate the quantity of fixtures and spacing required?
• What types of solutions are available for horticultural lighting?
• What trusted manufacturers provide horticultural lighting?

Traditionally, when we think about lighting, we measure a fixture by the lumen output and how many foot candles are needed on a work surface. But for plant lighting, the important values to consider are Photosynthetic Active Radiation (PAR) the measurement of usable wavelengths for plants from the fixture, and Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density (PPFD) the measurement of active photons per second measured at the plant. These are the components that are going to help provide a greater and more robust yield.

To help calculate the appropriate levels, our in-house applications team utilizes AGI32 to perform horticultural lighting calculations based on the needs of the plant/project.

Our leading manufacturer of horticultural lighting, SpecGrade LED, utilizes a modular system that allows for the adaptation of the fixture based on the needs of the environment, as well as interchangeable parts to upgrade the existing fixtures as LED’s improve and new technologies arise. Their modular fixture Linea can also be used as a side lighter offering a new angle on the growing process to increase yields. SpecGrade LED has successfully worked with Ohio State University to provide them with the LED grow lights to improve the growth of their plants by providing the correct stable levels of PPFD. To read more about it, see the link below.

Whether you are looking to learn more about horticultural lighting or are designing an indoor grow space, we at SDLA are here to help you through this process and support you through the life of the project. We have the knowledge, resources and tools to assist you with designing horticultural lighting for your next project, let us know how we can help you grow.

DLC Website

DLC – Horticultural Lighting

Case Study

The Ohio State University Case Study

Horticultural Lighting


Last week, we held our 6th Designer Luncheon, this time featuring Tegan Lighting at Nolita Hall in Little Italy. Finally able to enjoy a beautiful, sunny San Diego day, our visiting Bay Area manufacturer showcased their unique offerings like the EXTON powerspan cable system and their acoustic BuzziShade fixtures. And we can’t forget all the accessory pieces and finish options that were displayed! Tegan Lighting is one of those lines that has something to offer for any lighting project. We can spend hours talking about each fixture, but to keep things short and sweet, here are a couple highlights.

When it comes to outdoor lighting systems, sure other manufacturer’s may have them, but none can compare to EXTON. What makes this one special is the entire stainless-steel wiring and 10-gauge conductors are completely embedded in an IP65 self-sealing jacket- giving any point of the cable system power- which makes repositioning pendants a breeze. Plus, there are a ton of options to choose from whether the downlights are directly mounted or suspended, choosing the sandblasted glass gems or Edison-style envelopes or adding exterior-rated shades- which allow you to customize your cable system with a variation of lights.

Their other standout product comes from their exclusive partnership with BuzziSpace. We all have heard of this acoustic giant because of their extensive line of noise-reduction solutions; well now you can specify their lighting shades -through Tegan- knowing that you have a dependable light source that will provide you ample light and extensive lifespan thanks to their powerhouse LED Kore Ambient pendant(s). Not only did our attending designers and specifiers see the classic Buzzishade, but they also got to see the next and newest acoustic pendant to be added to the Tegan family- the BuzziPleat. We already can’t wait to see what shade will be introduced next!

If you missed out on the fun and action, don’t fret! At SDLA, we have a ton of samples available for you to see, and like we said, Tegan Lighting is just a hop-skip-and-a-jump away in San Rafael, California, so if you are interested in seeing where the magic happens at their factory, let us know and we can make it happen!

We’d also like to say a HUGE thank you to the staff at Nolita Hall for an amazing meal and hospitality! We couldn’t have picked a better venue to host this luncheon. And thank you to all the local San Diego Lighting Designers and Specifiers for joining us. Stay tuned for details about our next Designer Luncheon taking place in June with Pinnacle Architectural Lighting. You won’t want to miss it!

Meet the Team: Alyssa Molby

Alyssa Molby is settling into her new role as project manager and embracing her problem-solving side… just call her Miss Fix-It! Alyssa was born and raised in San Diego but has friends and family all over the world that she loves to visit! After moving to Alaska for college, and needing a whole new wardrobe, Alyssa fell in love with the state that’s the extreme opposite of San Diego. However, Alyssa moved back to the sunny state to finish school and join her sister at SDLA. Alyssa loves to rock climb at Vertical Hold in San Diego and she’s looking forward to climbing the ladder in the lighting industry as well as she kicks off her career at SDLA. Ready to meet the friendliest face at SDLA?

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

AM: My sister, Amanda Ivko, raved about the company and encouraged me to apply when they were looking for her replacement. While I’m just a small wheel in the massive machine of SDLA, I love knowing that my contribution makes a difference and helps to keep things running smooth. It’s exciting to continue to find my place and create goals for myself with the company because it is just the beginning for me.

Q: What’s your day to day like in the office?

AM: There’s a lot of problem-solving and delivering accuracy to clients in the role of project manager. I start my day by fielding orders and needs from our distributors and turning around orders as quickly as possible. When things aren’t delivered, or something goes wrong on the job site, the distributor will reach out to me to fix it, so I like to be quick on my feet with solutions. Internally, I work closely with the other project managers and the quick quotes team whenever I have questions or need something for a client.

Q: Do you have a favorite/rewarding project that you’ve worked on?

AM: Lighting is like a different language and there is a ton to learn, so I’ve really enjoyed just navigating the basics. When I first started, it was a bit overwhelming but now things are beginning to click. It’s fun to be out and about and notice a fixture or lighting system that we put in place. I’m really excited to see the results of my first big project, the Marriott in Coronado. This project was challenging but a great way to start my new position – it’s given me the opportunity to learn so much!

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

AM: I love that everyone has their person. Everyone here has their office best friend or real-life best friend working beside them every day and that creates a really unique environment. It’s fun to come to work when you get to collaborate with a team that cares about each other.

Meet The Team: Chris Ramirez

Chris Ramirez For Chris Ramirez joining the lighting industry may have been an accident but there is no mistake about this controls specialist. Chris joined the SDLA team in December 2017, but it didn’t take him long to fit right in with the controls department. Chris has two kids and loves being at home with the family and he recently started training in Jujutsu (he’s actually competed at the IBJJF Worlds Championship!). However, Chris would like to set the record straight! Despite what his boss Cliff is telling everyone, Chris doesn’t only invite people he’s mad at to train (or get beat up) at his gym. Are you ready to get in the ring with our newest controls specialist?

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

CR: It was by accident. I had moved to Arizona to start working for a telecommunications company but when there wasn’t enough work for me as a lineman, I started working at a local lighting company. When I moved back to San Diego, I landed a job with Acuity Brands, where I worked for about two years and where I was commuting four hours per day. When the opportunity to finally get into controls design presented itself, I jumped at the chance to come work at SDLA. Luckily, I still get to work closely with Acuity and my old co-workers. When working with Acuity now, it’s a fast turnaround, I always know exactly who to go to and where to find things.

Q: What’s your day to day like in the office?

 CR: Everything begins at the bid board. We all check in for our assignments and then turn our concentration to delivering the bid on time. If it’s a large project or really complicated, everyone in the controls department will dig in and pick it apart, there is always a lot of team collaboration. After attacking the bid, we will start on the design and layout. We often are working hand in hand with the fixtures team to ensure that everything is compliant and up to Title 24 code.

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

CR: Being on the agency side has been a nice change and I’ve been loving the atmosphere I get to work in. Everyone calls our department “the nerds”, “the geek squad” or “big bang theory” because we are the go-to guys, (Cliff, Brendan, JP) whenever anyone has difficult questions. I love the daily challenges this job presents to every department and our ability to solve them as a team. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel to so many different places and locations through this industry. I’ve been to over 40 states!

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

 CR: The best thing, in my opinion, is the freedom. We have the freedom to get projects done and be confident in our work. Performance is the ultimate priority but we all know we are trusted and treated like adults and I love and appreciate that.

Meet The Team: Debbie Lensky

Debbie LenskyDon’t you just love when things fall into place and they somehow become a perfect fit? That was the case for Debbie Lensky who says her first job in the industry just fell on to her lap. Now an experienced veteran in the industry, Debbie is falling and fitting perfectly into her new role at SDLA. Debbie has worn many different hats in the lighting industry but the same can be said for her life outside of the office as well. Debbie loves being a mom and now a grandmother. She loves to show her granddaughter all around San Diego with some of their favorite adventures including the beach and park. Who’s excited to meet SDLA’s newest project manager?

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

DL: I guess you could say I just fell into it. I got my first job in the industry through family and now have done just about everything you can do in a lighting agency. The bulk of my career took place in Las Vegas where I spent a long time in quotations. Since coming to SDLA, it’s been a refreshing transition into project management. Just as I initially fell into the industry, I feel like everything is falling into place in this new position, the agency side just fits right for me.

Q: What’s your day to day like in the office?

DL: Go, go, go. This position is an all-day affair, we are always on the go, busy trying to meet the customer’s needs. My position is very client facing and I spend a great deal of time working closely with distributors and customers. Internally, I work with Kristin a lot as well. Over the past couple of months, it’s been a fun journey getting to meet the customers and learning about their needs and pain points.

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

DL: I’ve really been enjoying the customer service aspect of project management. It’s all about providing the client with the best possible solutions with the best possible service. I was in quotations for the majority of my career so working with the clients this way has been a fresh, exciting challenge. I also appreciate how organized my co-workers are and how our communication is so effective, makes life a lot easier.

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

DL: I love the fast pace environment, we are always busy, but we also know how to make the day to day fun. The people here really make this company unique, the communication is great from top to bottom and everyone is welcoming and supportive. My first impression was that everyone had each other’s back and that has proven to be the case.

Meet the Team: Rod Equihua

How much do you know about our quiet, inside specification sales applications specialist, Rod Equihua? This dad of three loves being a family man and spending time at home with his crew when he’s not working up lighting layouts for clients! Rod loves playing soccer and whipping up anything you can find in the sea, like a California sushi roll or his specialty “Ceviche”. Ready to get the inside scoop on one of our favorite industry veterans?

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

RE: I studied architectural lighting and then worked in the electrical lighting industry for 27 years before coming to SDLA a year ago. I have plenty of experience in the field, like electrical power and lighting design, but this is my first time working for an agency. I’ve really enjoyed the switch and love that I always have something to do, the team here keeps me busy!

Q: What’s your day to day like in the office?

 RE: The specification and distributor/contractor teams work with the client and then they come to me to create the layout. I bring the concept to design and then to execution by creating a layout of the project. Some projects require 3D modeling/rendering calculations, which will give the client a complete look into the luminaire characteristics, room specification and fixture type/placement. I work a lot with the electrical contractors and inside specifications team to communicate and deliver the best service to the client.

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

RE: I love the daily challenges my job brings, each project is new and different, so each day I’m met with a new exciting challenge to conquer. There is never a dull day in this position, I always have something to do! I really enjoy working on detail and large projects, because a lot of time and energy goes into creating the model/rendering. Once the project is complete, it’s really rewarding to go back and look at all the work that went into making the large project successful. It’s always a great day when a client comes back after reviewing my layout and says “Yes! I love it and want to proceed with these fixtures!”.

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

RE: I’ve worked at many places over the years and this is by far the best place I’ve ever worked. A lot of us say we are one big family, I agree, but I’d also compare us to a thrilling soap opera. Many people know me around the office to be pretty quiet, but I can always be found giggling at something one of my co-workers says or a story they’ve told.  I’ve only been here for a short time and everyone has made me feel so welcome. The nickname master Crock-Dog hasn’t given me an official nickname but people like to tease me about being quiet. Before leaving for the day they might say “Woah, Rod stop talking so much Bro or you are too loud”.



Save the dateSince joining the IIDA, we love being able to sponsor the events that bring out the best and most creative sides in designers. Not only do we get to network with talented people, but we also see what inspires them and what direction designers are taking the latest or past trends to inspire their designs today. Which brings us to last week’s Fashion Show hosted by IIDA SoCal Chapter.

Last Thursday, we attended one of our favorite events of the year- the IIDA Haute Couture Fashion Show at Parq Nightclub in Downtown San Diego. This isn’t just any ordinary fashion show though. Architects and Interior Designers team up to create a design using materials from a partnered furniture manufacturer. If you watch Project Runway, it’s the real-life unconventional materials challenge!

Typically, the fashion show committee picks a theme, but to shake things up, this year they left the decision up to the design community. Instead of choosing a single theme, there was a list of five iconic architects along with five fashion genres to choose from as the inspiration. The decision resulted in Antonio Gaudi, the Spanish architect best known for Catalan Modernism, and 1960’s Hippie fashion, the trend that was best known for its natural materials with an alternative, rebellious twist.

There were so many great designs from all the participants, and each model captured and embodied their inspiration to the “T”! But of course, we all want to know, who were the winners??

People’s Choice & Best Student Team – Mesa College
Best Theme Inspiration – ID Studios
Best Haute Couture – OCIO Design Group
Best Craftmanship – FPBA
Best Showmanship – HBG Design & RBN Design
Congrats to all the teams that won an award!

Again, we appreciate any opportunity to sponsor and attend all the local events the IIDA puts on, and we are glad to be a part of the association. To learn more about the IIDA and how to become a member, click the link

Meet The Team: Laura Ramirez

Specifications sales team member, Laura Ramirez, loves traveling the country with clients and coworkers, but San Diego has always been home for this California native. If you’re looking for an adventure around the area she’s your go-to girl. Laura loves cross country mountain biking, trail running and camping. When she’s not tackling an adventure or client design challenge, she loves spending time outdoors with her four kids, (ages 2-9). Though you may have heard about the famous straw story from the Eureka trip in Montreal, there is a lot more to this team member’s story. Are you ready for the next SDLA page-turner?

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

LR: I had just graduated college with a degree in interior design and was looking to work with architectural or interior design firms. Unfortunately, I started looking just before the economy crashed so of course, no one was hiring. I had to branch out and get creative in my search and I found an engineering firm with a position open. They were looking for designers who could help them select lighting for their jobs. As Danny would call it “I like the pretty sh%$.” I discovered in that first position that lighting was the one thing on the engineering side I enjoyed, and I’ve just kept going down that rabbit hole ever since.

Q: What’s your day to day like in the office?

 LR: My day in the office is different every day, every week. I’m a part of the specification sales team and my clients are made up of architects, interior designers, lighting designers and electrical engineers. With that wide range of clients, I can find myself hosting booths at tradeshows, running design meetings, or taking customers to lighting shows all in the same week. It keeps the job fresh and I love being out of the office, traveling with coworkers and clients. I work closely with other members of the spec team, like Maronee and Brian. And most recently, I’ve been working with our newly expanded quick quotes team a lot by helping facilitate orders for smaller scale projects and establishing budgetary pricing.

Q: Do you have a favorite/most rewarding project that you have worked on?

LR: I’m really excited to see the completed KSS Restaurant project. That project includes a lot of custom light fixtures that I believe will set this place apart, so I think we are all excited to see our hard work in action once the project is finished! Additionally, it was really rewarding to have our lighting package become a building standard at Terragen.

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

 LR: I’ve been here for just under 2 years, and by far the best thing about SDLA is how strong our culture is. It’s incredibly special to have a unique culture, and there is nothing better than to be part of this team!


On October 17th, our team hosted a group of customers to a day and night out in good ole Las Vegas where this year’s Lightshow West took place. With over 200 exhibitors and 20 of them being our manufacturer’s participating, there was a lot to see in a short amount of time!

Lightshow West has become the largest West Coast destination for specifiers to see the upcoming lighting trends, and see products from the leading commercial, architectural, high-end decorative and controls manufacturers.

After the quick flight, the day consisted of stopping by our hotel, The Cosmopolitan, grabbing a quick bite to eat at Block 16 Urban Food Hall and then heading straight to the convention center to check out the show. Some noteworthy mentions were the new product announcements such as the Venue by Peerless- this large-scale pendant comes in a concave or convex triangle, square or rectangular shape; available in 4 and 5-foot sizes! Perfect for large, open spaces! Bruck lighting announced their new line of wood fixtures, called the “WEP- Wood Eco Project” Series- made of Argentinian wood, the texture and flexibility of the wood veneer allows for unique shapes; along with the ability to specify the shades size and choose different interior and exterior colors, the customization truly makes each piece original. Lastly, but not least, Bartco exhibited their new wet-rated family called Fathom. This line consists of 8 products with sleek sealing hardware perfect for any outdoor application.  Our guests were thoroughly impressed with ALL our manufacturers’ booths and learned a lot from the time spent at the show!  A few even mentioned finding the perfect fixture for their next project!

Afterward, we enjoyed an indulgent dinner at Holstein’s consisting of big juicy burgers and creamy boozy milkshakes hosted by Acuity Brands! We continued the night with a ride on the Linq High Roller Ferris Wheel (where the highest point reaches 550ft), then landed at Harrah’s Piano Bar, hosted by Pinnacle Architectural Lighting.

To add a little fun, we challenged our guests to stop by each of our manufacturer’s booths; if they were able to complete this within the timeframe they were at the show, they would be entered in a raffle contest. As many completed the task, only two were lucky enough to win. Congrats to Jenny Oechel, of MPE Consulting, and Khris Tabaknek, of SmithGroup, for being our grand prize winners of the trip!

As everyone was heading to the airport to head back to good old San Diego, Brian stayed an extra day as there was another lighting show in town! Celebrating its 30th year, Live Design International, LDI, is the leading conference trade show for live design professionals. With over 400 exhibitors, the show consisted of the latest new tech and production equipment for international and live broadcast venues such as festivals, corporate events, theatre, concerts, clubs, theme parks, architainment, and houses of worships. Chauvet Professional, one of the main sponsors of the show and one of our valued manufacturers, did not disappoint with their massive display filled with incredible lighting! Over the convention, they featured the Maverick Storm 1 Wash. This IP65 rated RGBW LED is made of die-cast aluminum, has an insane light output of 6000 lumens and consists of a moving head- the first of its kind!

To learn more about the show or if you have any questions, about the mentioned manufacturers or want to know more about the show, contact Brian Rhea at