Grown together from small beginnings
Words by: WE-EF
In the 25 years of its existence, WE-EF has been lucky enough to enjoy strong, long term relationships not just with its staff, though, but also with its external partners, many of whom have also grown from small beginnings alongside WE-EF.
One recent addition to the wider WE-EF sales family is Alex Skaines. A founding director of Integral Lighting in Canberra, Alex says he was ‘in the right place at the right time’ to work with WE-EF. Six years ago, he started his own business at 24 years old after a stint with a lighting company while studying. Skaines says the high quality of WE-EF products supports his interest in ‘lumen architecture’, or what light can do for a physical architecture. (Photo by Jackie Chan)
While Integral Lighting is a comparatively young player in the industry, Perth’s H.I. Lighting has been operating for a venerable 48 years. H.I. Lighting was one of the first companies to partner with WE-EF and Paul Cox has been with it for 31 of those 48 years. Over that time, he has worked his way up from his first job as a store man, when there were only five employees, to managing director. Paul now oversees 19 staff, but from the beginning of WE-EF in Australia, he too recalls being ‘struck by the quality of the products’, which made it easy to present to clients. (Photo by Jackie Chan)
Another veteran lighting supplier is Mark Herring, founding director of MHL in New Zealand. He started the company in Christchurch in 1991 when he was 21, becoming WE-EF national New Zealand sales partner when the company expanded to the north island in 2011. For Mark, who started the business because he wanted a more consultative selling role, relationships are fundamentally important. “It’s great working with people you like and trust,” he says of WE-EF. (Photo courtesy of MHL)
Just as WE-EF employees have come from varied backgrounds to build a specialist team, their supporters in the lighting industry have come from some unusual training. Jess Perry of Electrolight, a leading Australian lighting design practice, had studied industrial design and took up “a prestigious position as a hearing aid manufacturer” before discovering lighting design. “I was always drawn to occupations that combine creativity with a technical side and a Lighting Design profession certainly offers that.” He has been specifying WE-EF products “since The Black Eyed Peas released Where is the Love”. (Photo courtesy of Jess Perry)
The quality of products is a source of pride to both WE-EF employees and sales partners. ‘Quality is the most important thing’ confirms Trevor Marchant. ‘I remember looking at a light I’d assembled and asking “would you pay $1000 for that?” This is what I would ask myself with every piece.’
Canberra sales partner Alex Skaines finds it easy to work with designers, where quality matters. ‘People have different ideas of what a ‘salesperson’ is, but it isn’t a struggle to focus on the project with a client when you have a product you can be proud of,’ he says.
But it is not just about having great products.
Sales partners comment that WE-EF’s good reputation is not simply about a product that doesn’t fail, but that WE-EF has always worked to identify and remedy any shortcomings. For Skaines, ‘every problem really is an opportunity to improve’ and WE-EF support makes that a valuable journey for him.
Ian Wiseman of Light Culture, who founded the business just before the GFC struck, says he had always known about WE-EF as “there were few quality offerings in the market and WE-EF were definitely one of them!”
Clients become repeat clients because of their confidence in being able to work with WE-EF through any issues. In one sense, difficulties are inevitable where innovation is involved. Constant improvement relies on clients that find it easy to give feedback to the manufacturer, and a manufacturer that is eager to make the product work to its full potential. (Photo by Jackie Chan)
To be continued.