Meet The Team: Maronee Rodenberger

This month’s Meet the Team Q&A is with our Maronee Rodenberger, the queen of specification sales at SDLA. She’s a real firecracker and one of the most passionate people you’ll ever meet. We like to call her Fired Up Fran on her “feisty” days. When she’s not at her son’s baseball games keeping score for the team, or playing on her co-ed softball league, Maronee is dishing out the best lighting specs out there. She’s even helped our specifications department grow significantly in just a few months – adding three new staff members to the team. Ready to talk shop with Maronee?

Q: What is your background? How did you get started in the industry?

MR: I have been in the industry for 10 years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with SDLA for the past 4 years. In 2008, I began working in distribution and SDLA was one of my suppliers. I was a lighting project manager who helped open my former company’s branch in San Diego. I always had the career goal of moving up to work as a manufacturer’s rep. The fit with SDLA was perfect. In 2013, I made the shift to working in specification sales for SDLA – and I love what I do.

Q: What do you like best about working at SDLA?

MR: One of the things I really pride myself on is when I came to SDLA, I took on a whole new role for myself. While it was in the same industry, it was also completely different. It was scary, I was nervous, and it was so different. But now that’s all changed, and it changed fast. I really feel that shift happened so quickly because of the environment I work in. I absolutely adore all of my coworkers. We are like a family. Kristin, Danny & now Brian too, are the best mentors. With their utmost support, I was able to learn a new role, a new position and inspired and encouraged to take on the job. Plus, I’ve learned from the industry’s best.

Q: What’s your most memorable project?

MR: Hand down, my very first project at SDLA. It was the Poway Library. The engineer gave me full control over the fixture selection, so I worked hard, got creative and when it came to life, it was so rewarding. One particular aspect of the project I was very passionate about was the children’s reading area. I was concerned about the look and feel of the lighting, as well as the practical functionality of the lighting for the reading space. We used some really fun shapes – and one of my favorite fixtures – the Arq from Barbican – to bring the space to life.

Q: Any trends you’re seeing in specification?

MR: With the demand of California energy code requirements, LEDs are the way everything is specified. This is really nice because we can also specify both fun and functional fixtures with LEDs. And, the controllability of the fixtures lets us create a really nice environment in the space.

Tour Our New State-of-the-Art Office

new SDLA officeAs we mentioned during the first of the year, we put a lot of time and thought behind our new office space – and now we want to share it with you!

On Wednesday, May 24th we will be hosting office tours for small groups of 15 people every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Join in on the fun by scheduling your visit with Amanda Ivko at

You’ll see the latest in LED lighting, lighting control and HVAC control technology and learn a little too:

• Learn about the potential benefits to health, learning, and behavior with tunable white and warm dim LED solutions

• The implementation of IoT technology through lighting controls system, and how it’s commercially available today

• Understanding the unification of building management systems (BMS) and other lighting control systems

• See practical installations of the latest in ambient lighting solutions from many of our valued manufacturer partners

Oh, and did we mention we’ll be raffling prizes after each tour? You don’t want to miss out!

Need our new address? It’s 5625 Ruffin Rd., Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92123.

Trending: 2017 Lightfair Predictions

Lighfair 2017In less than 10 days, we’re heading out to Philadelphia for our industry’s largest trade show – Lightfair 2017 – and we have some pretty high expectations for the show this year.

The industry itself is experiencing a shake-up with collaborations, mergers and partnerships – from established veterans to start-ups and tech companies. Lighting is the tech space now more than ever. The demand for IoT integration and advancements in technology is helping drive this sea of change.

Here’s a peek at what we expect to see:

• IoT was the buzzword at the last show, where LFI even introduced its first-ever IoT Forum. But this year, it’s more than just buzz. We expect IoT to be more prevalent across the entire show floor in some way, shape or form.

• We will see some new players who were not part of the conversation last year show up with some significant technology advancements in a relatively short amount of time.

• For years we’ve known that lighting impacts health, but a lot of it has been concept, trial, testing and conjecture. With the advancements in LED technology, manufacturers are making our dreams of tunable lighting and controls, personalization and the impact of lighting on human health go from concept to reality.

We are especially excited to see what the Acuity Brands has in store for us this year! They have been pioneers in this revolution; we got a sneak peek last year in San Diego and there’s no doubt we will be seeing them take it to the next level this year in Philadelphia.

Across the board, technological advances in the industry are rapidly changing the landscape. There is still a lot to be done, but the theme now isn’t when these concepts will come to life. It’s how fast can we implement.

Meet The Team: Brian Rhea

This month’s Meet the Team Q&A is with our newest team member – a veteran in the lighting biz, Brian Rhea. With nearly two decades of experience in the industry, Brian joins the SDLA family as one of the agency’s principals. His range of experience from specification lighting sales to new product development make him an invaluable asset to our team. Ready to get to know this SDLA newcomer?

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

BR: After growing up in Ohio, I decided that after college it was time to venture to warmer weather. I graduated from Miami University of Ohio and took a job at what is now Acuity Brands in Atlanta. I quickly found myself immersed in the lighting industry – and loving every minute of it. I was eventually transferred to California (still in lighting), and I have never looked back.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

BR: Being the point of contact for the design community is my favorite part. I love helping clients solve challenges. I pride myself on being resourceful and providing top-notch service in order to solve any and every challenge.  Equally as exciting is having the opportunity to lead a team of extremely talented specification professionals.  I am a coach and teacher at heart and am looking forward to mentoring them while also learning from them as well.  We are a perfect yin and yang team of 4 (and growing!)

Q: What brought you to SDLA?

 BR: Both the people and the opportunity. Danny Cortez and I had worked together in the past, and our work really complimented each other. When we conducted joint presentations, we just fed off each other’s energy.  I also have been working with Kristin Miller since 2006, and really respect the ambition and inspiration these two possess – could not ask for better business partners! Moreover, this agency is cutting edge! They are well established in the market and are experts in the traditional business, but also have the foresight into the future. SDLA has been recognized in the market as a leader in technological expertise.  From general illumination recessed lighting, to IoT and BMS unification solutions, and everything in between, our goal is to utilize all of the tools and knowledge we collectively possess and share it with our entire client base to ensure their design meets the clients’ goals – no matter how simple or complex!  So when the opportunity arose to join SDLA, I knew this was not an opportunity I could pass up.

Q: What is unique about SDLA?

 BR: SDLA is reinvigorated organization and despite the incredible success this agency has experienced, we are never satisfied with status quo. It’s a close-knit, family-oriented workplace composed of driven employees who all want to succeed and most importantly genuinely care about the total satisfaction of our customers. That same drive has led to tremendous growth in the past year… we doubled in size and are truly the premier lighting agency in San Diego. We all have our own areas of expertise, which as a whole makes us the perfect one-stop shop for all our customer’s needs.

Meet LEDRAbrands: Decorative & Architectural LED Lighting

At SDLA, we’ve got our finger on the pulse of lighting manufacturers who are consistently delivering cutting-edge, high-quality innovations and designs. LEDRAbrands is absolutely one of those companies.

A lighting manufacturer of three brands – Bruck, Molto Luce and ALPHABET – it continues to make breakthroughs in technology for performance, decorative and architectural lighting and has become a renowned leader in solid state lighting design. One thing its team is also good about is keeping us and its specifiers up-to-date on its latest technologies and concepts through intimate training sessions.

This past month, we attended LEDRAbrands’ AIA accredited session about human-centric lighting in Tustin, CA. Our friends from ELEN Consulting, EXP, MPE Consulting, Studio + Light, Tazz Lighting and CS Illuminations also joined. After the training session, we got the behind-the-scenes look at the latest products from its brands Bruck, Alphabet and Molto Luce.

Don’t miss LEDRAbrands’ new products preview here! You can also schedule your own LEDRAbrands training event. Just fill out the form and they will be in touch.

Thanks to our friends at LEDRAbrands for such a great training event!

Meet The Team: Jason Bash

This month’s Meet the Team Q&A is with our third longest tenured employee – sales team rock star Jason Bash – known in the office as “BMJ” (aka Business Man Jason). BMJ earned his nickname because of his tendency to work constantly. Sometimes he even needs a reminder to stop being BMJ during lunch hour. BMJ has contributed substantially to the agency’s growth. And that’s why this month we’re interviewing the one, the only, the real BMJ…

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

 BMJ: Right after I finished college, my friend was opening a branch of Walters Wholesale Electric in San Diego and I became the first employee. I did several jobs within that company, but in my last couple years with them, I got into lighting quotation, which started my love for the industry. That responsibility lead me to SDLA.

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment at SDLA?

BMJ: I feel like the growth that we have experienced since I started here is a huge accomplishment. We have more than doubled in size and now have three application engineers and two field techs. Back when I started, Danny and I were wearing multiple hats… some days even literally up on ladder getting our hands dirty. But since our growth, we have truly been able to focus on and dedicate our time to outside sales. It’s been incredible.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

 BMJ: Every day is my favorite part. I love talking to customers and I have met some great friends that way. I absolutely love working with people and finding solutions to any problems that arise.

Q: What is unique about the culture at SDLA?

BMJ: We are like one big family at SDLA. We have so much fun together doing things outside of work, like playing on a softball team. I work with a great group of people and everyone genuinely enjoys coming to work… the morale is awesome, which makes our quality of work, and commitment to our customers even more awesome.

ALLIANCE Outdoor Lighting Showcase

Wine, hors-d’oeuvres and music on the grounds of a local vineyard?  Yes, please.

Last Thursday we joined our valued customers from CED Carlsbad, Rowan Electric and Lightstyle for an evening at Chapin Family Vineyard, as it unveiled its new dynamic landscape lighting from Alliance Outdoor Lighting. The lighting truly stole the show!

Alliance Outdoor Lighting is a low-voltage lighting manufacturer with LED technology, solid brass fixtures and stainless steel transformers. It’s carefully crafted approach takes practical concepts in low voltage outdoor lighting and creates an easy-to-specify and easy-to-install method for the industry. All fixtures are manufactured with either heavy cast brass or spun brass to last a lifetime.

Many more events from Alliance Outdoor Lighting to come… and believe us, you won’t want to miss them. Sign up and don’t forget to take a peek at their catalog.

New LiFT Architectural Lighting Inspires Creativity in Grid Ceilings

Pinnacle Architectural Lighting introduces LiFT – LED lighting designed with appearance and performance equally in mind. From a traditional grid layout to an ornate pattern, LiFT LED luminaires can be flexibly constructed and clustered together to achieve the creativity you want, along with optimal power consumption, light output and energy efficiencies.

LiFT architectural lighting is a family of luminaires that are extremely versatile and proves any ceiling can be unique. inspired by the Golden Ratio, a universal law of beauty and completeness in nature, its clean lines and harmonious proportions are best displayed in patterns. The LED fixture’s seamless lens-to-trim transition creates a skylight-esque appearance that suggests bringing the outdoors in. Its low-power density and shallow housing profile make LiFT both versatile and efficient option for architectural LED lighting.

LiFT LED luminaires are available in 1×1, 1×2, 1×4, 2×2, 2×4 and 4×4 configurations. For more information contact Maronee Rodenberger at or download the LiFT family brochure.

Meet The Team: Kristin Miller

This month’s Meet the Team profile is a one-on-one Q&A with our very own principal, Kristin Miller. Kristin is the head of operations and financials for the company.

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

Miller: My dad started the agency 35 years ago. Like many teenagers… I honestly had no interest in working for the family business. I decided I wanted to be a teacher and I went to college for a degree in child development. After graduation, I asked my Dad if he had any openings to sustain me while I searched for a job. Luckily for me, he gave me a job as a receptionist, I fell in love with the industry and I’ve never looked back.

Q: How did this start shape your career?

Miller: People joke that I am the Mom of the office because I take the approach of leading by example and really making sure I am part of the team, not just leading it. I view myself as just any other employee – after all, that’s where I started. From the receptionist, to project management to quotes… I’ve seen it all. I have truly been in every employee’s role over the years, which allows me to put myself in their shoes.

Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment for you in your time at SDLA?

Miller: I think the growth we have gone through in the last 2.5 years has been a huge accomplishment. We have gone from 11 to 23 employees and moved to a new office space. It has always been important to me to build a place where employees enjoy coming to work, and I think we have accomplished that.

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

Miller: That every day is different – I love it. It keeps things interesting. I also like the satisfaction that comes with finding solutions to challenging problems our customers have. It’s definitely rewarding when you figure out the puzzle, and you can say you made a difference.

Alpine Library’s Next Chapter: Net Zero Energy

The County of San Diego’s Alpine Library re-opened its doors in May of last year with a new building design that is unprecedented in its community. The 12,700 square-foot facility is comprised of a children’s area, quiet study areas, homework centers, public computers, reading rooms, a bookstore and even an outdoor patio. But its thoughtful, functional design doesn’t stop at just how the community uses it – it also impacts energy use. The Alpine Library is the County of San Diego’s first Net Zero building. This means the library’s total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

Turning the page to this exciting chapter wasn’t easy. Achieving Net Zero energy is a tedious process to ensure regulations and stringent codes are met. The Alpine Library looked to our SDLA team as a guide through this process – a resource that would recommend the right products to get the job done.

“Alpine Library was one of the few projects that were both challenging and captivating throughout its entirety. Working with SDLA on the county’s first ZNE building was an added bonus as we look to the future in construction with sustainable buildings,” said Matt Hermsen
Project Manager, Rowan Electric.

To meet the library’s needs, we recommended an integrated lighting controls system called nLight® Controls. This networked digital lighting control system from Acuity Brands seamlessly integrates into the building’s lighting fixtures to help manage energy load throughout the space. Additionally, it makes the environment very controllable – tailoring lighting for the comfort of the people using the space no matter what task they are working on – a group study session, computer screen-time or just reading a book.

We helped the library with their entire controls strategy – from layout to installation and commissioning, and even continue to support them post-installation to configure controls to meet their changing needs. In the end, we are proud to have been part of the first Net Zero energy build in the County of San Diego, which is now a community landmark.