WHO: Switch Lighting
Founders: Gerard Woods & Jon Maunsell
What products, services, solutions or technology have you developed?
As the first lighting company to locally manufacture LED lights in New Zealand, we are extremely proud of the innovative lighting technology we have delivered to market. Our product range includes economical downlights for commercial and residential use, as well as our premium high-end range of high CRI, colour consistent, dimmable and colour tuneable luminaires.
We have developed a range of recessed and tiltable LED downlights that deliver superb optical clarity and beam control in stylish forms. The recessed fittings deliver ultra-low glare for comfort, while our tiltable range of products ensure light can be beautifully angled to achieve soft, directional lighting which elevates the home environment. Switch Lighting is officially the first lighting company to manufacture a fully sealed tilt luminaire in New Zealand.
Our SLiC (Switch Lighting Intelligent Control) device has received global interest, as we have integrated our products with Casambi-enabled lighting automation. This technology is utilised to create smart lighting automation via a low energy Bluetooth mesh network. This allows the user to create scenes and control their lighting with standard push buttons or directly from their smartphone app.
Switch Lighting has developed a range of products which are perfect for outdoor use. Lighting an outdoor environment creates an additional level of comfort and luxury, as it sets the mood for the evening, highlights beautiful architectural design, and creates a magical feeling in the surrounding environment.
We also offer a free lighting design service. LED lighting is still a fairly new technology and each product performs in a different way to traditional lighting products. Switch Lighting will review building plans and provide the customer with a comprehensive lighting plan with the right lighting to enhance the home and create a warm inviting environment.
WHAT KEY CUSTOMER PROBLEMS OR CUSTOMER “WANTS” DOES YOUR SOLUTION SOLVE?
Switch LED lights are robust and have a long lifespan, with a typical home achieving an average 80% reduction in energy consumption. Using Switch Lighting products provides a significant annual financial saving, reduces carbon footprint, and ultimately benefits New Zealand’s sustainability goals.
Switch Lighting has a minimum order quantity of one, which provides flexibility and guarantee that our customers can purchase our products in the exact quantity and style they desire. Customers can choose from textured white or black trim, and black, white, copper, gold or bronze inner options across a range of our products. With beam angles, colour temperatures, driver types, trim and inner combinations to suit every style.
Our products are designed for the New Zealand environment, be that on the coast or on top of a mountain in the National Parks of New Zealand – products that are designed to stand the test of time.
Who and where are your target customers?
Our products are predominately installed in the residential and hospitality market. However, they can be utilised in any environment where lighting is required. Our products can be seen in homes, hotels, hospitality, retail and schools to name a few. More recently Switch Lighting has seen an increase from the marine market, with large orders being received from European cruise ship and luxury yacht manufacturers.
In New Zealand electricians are heavily involved in the specification of lighting products, especially in renovation projects. Homeowners rely on the electrician’s expertise when selecting which lighting products to install. Switch Lighting has become a welcomed partner with the electricians, as we share our knowledge of new lighting trends and exciting lighting products and technology from our ranges.
How and when did you first come up with the idea for your business?
Jon Maunsell, Switch Lighting cofounder, first investigated LED back in the late 1990s, not long after the Nichia Engineer Shuji Nakamura invented the first high brightness white LED in 1993. In 2003 Jon designed and built his first LED light. Since then, it has been a steady progression of learning and developing lighting products. Now with nearly two decades of developing LED based products Switch Lighting is proud to be the leader in LED luminaire manufacturing in New Zealand.
What are three things about your business that you are proud of?
- Switch Lighting is a genuine Kiwi business, based in sunny Nelson. Our globally experienced Research & Development team has a combined 177 years’ technical engineering experience. All Switch Lighting products are designed, developed and assembled on site, with our Nelson production facility producing well over 400,000 luminaires in the last year.
- Our innovative designs and technology are now being recognised on a global scale, with orders coming in from around the world from new and exciting markets. We are thrilled about our expansion into new markets such as Australia, Sweden and Holland and new industries such as the marine industry.
- Switch Lighting was the first lighting company in New Zealand to achieve IC-F classification. It is a common misconception that LED lights don’t produce heat, where in fact the heatsink of a fully lit LED is around 60 to 100 degrees C°. Safety is of the utmost paramount with our products. The IC-F rating means that the downlight can be installed under insulation that is only rated to 90 degrees C° and also that the light is sealed so there is no heat loss from the living environment.
How do you market your business and what advice do you have for others around marketing?
Our business model is to sell via the Electrical wholesaler network and international resellers. This model has allowed us to focus on our core role of designing and manufacturing new and innovative products. Our marketing strategy has seen us placed as a lighting educator. With the expansion of our unique lighting showrooms across the country, we are able to connect with multiple target markets which include architects, electricians and electrical engineers, lighting designers and the homeowners directly.
Traditionally the importance of lighting has been underrated and often considered too late in the build / renovation process. Our goal is to connect with our customer base in the beginning stages of the process, create a connection to how lighting makes one feel in the home environment and ensure our products, which are known in the industry as the best on the market, are easily accessible and readily available to our wide range of customer channels.
At Switch we have always ensured our quality products and integrity have led the way in building strong relationships with our customer base, this has allowed us to create meaningful connections with the customer as a trusted partner and leader in the lighting industry. Our advice is to always honour that commitment in doing business ethically.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in building your business so far?
Recruiting new talent has been a significant challenge, as we struggle to find qualified engineers based locally in New Zealand. Our development period for new products currently takes a long time, with a time frame of anywhere from 12 to 48 months, as our team of engineers strive for absolute perfection in clarity and optical excellence. We are working on streamlining our new product development processes and are actively expanding our research and development team to ensure we can deliver new products and innovative lighting technology to market in a shorter time frame.
Educating the market on LED technology has been a big focus, the perception that all LED products are the same is incorrect. LED products are highly technical and are a combination of electronic and mechanical engineering. Small LED are wired differently to traditional lighting products and this created some issues in the field in the early days but with our education philosophy and various tools we have created for the electrical contractor we are overcoming this.
What is the biggest entrepreneur lesson you would like to share with other Kiwis thinking of starting their own business?
When embarking on an entrepreneurial path find trusted experienced business people that can help guide you on your journey. Having the ability to discuss strategy and various decisions with experienced people is invaluable. There are many lessons to be learned along the way.
Developing robust processes that all members of your team can understand and follow will minimize mistakes and enable and empower staff members in their roles and decision making. Develop a strategy with a vision and goal. Continually update it as you need to know where you are going and the strategy is the roadmap to take you there.
Story created in partnership with Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA).