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Get to Know FX Souvay from the Lumenpulse Group
Some Insights from on the Lighting Industry, Lumenpulse, and the Future from FX
This week we’re doing something special. FX Souvay is the CEO of the Lumenpulse Group and a character around the industry. The Lumenpulse Group hasn’t failed to make news over and over again over the last few years. This interview was conducted over email right around Lightfair. In it FX gives us some insights into the moves Lumenpulse Group has made and where the future of the business is going.
First off, give how about a quick paragraph on who you are, how you got into the lighting industry and your role at Lumenpulse?
I am the son of a lighting designer from Montreal. I started in the lighting industry in 1989 working for my father’s lighting design practice. I then joined a start-up company in 1992 called ZED Lighting which was specialized in decorative outdoor street lighting. Then we sold the company to Thomas Industries in 1997 and I became a consultant for 2 years and ultimately bought a lighting agency in 1999. The lighting agency grew up significantly and was generating great free cashflows but I always wanted to build my own brand. I decided to jump and started Lumenpulse in 2006 with no external investors. We then grew the business significantly and did an IPO in 2014 which allowed us to raise more than $100M of net cash. The cash was used to expand our product offering by doing several key acquisitions.
Over the last two years, Lumenpulse has spun off several lines of lighting as sub-brands. LumenAlpha, LumenArea, Fluxwerx all live under their own banners. What’s the strategy there and can you provide some clarification on the separation of the brands?
After digesting our first acquisitions done over the past 3 years, we realized that we needed to keep each brand with their respective management, R&D and Sales and Marketing teams in order to maintain a strong entrepreneurial spirit that would fuel innovation. We aknowledged that each of our brand had their own expertise and product focus and we wanted to make sure that we would provide the most innovative products and best customer experience from each brand. The strength of the Lumenpulse Group allows each brand to fund their own strategic plan while leveraging the group purchasing power and maximizing, when applicable, all potential technology and innovation cross pollinations between brands. All brands have their own leaders in all key disciplines and are in control of their destiny and strategic plans while benefiting from the Group resources.
Recently Lumenpulse Group announced that the company is being taken back to private ownership. This is rare move in any industry. Can you give us some insight into what drove the decision?
Going public was a great move for Lumenpulse. It allowed us to transform our company into the Lumenpulse Group we know today and helped us building the foundations for who we want to become. Lumenpulse Group today is no longer looking to raise more equity as it generates solid free cashflows every quarter. The benefits vs the cost of being public were not great enough anymore to keep a public structure. Going private will help us to accomplish great things. We are now back in control of our agenda without the distraction of the public markets. All of our time will now be dedicated to build the most exciting specification grade lighting group in the world.
The Lumenpulse booth at Lightfair is always a hit. You seem to thrive at the show. How was Lightfair for you? Did you see anything exciting or innovative there?
Lightfair is always a great opportunity to connect with our agents and specifiers. We were very busy meeting with our agents and clients this year that I did not have the chance to peruse the floor like I did in the past. One thing was very clear, LED is now the dominant source without a doubt and we are seeing a lot more embedded control solutions as we were seeing the previous years.
Last question, what’s exciting you about where the industry is going?
I cannot remember a more exciting time than today to be in the lighting industry and particularly being in the architectural spec-grade market. Design is now part of our day-to-day life whether it is your toaster, coffee machine, car, phone, TV, computer or watch. I see a significant increased demand for architectural lighting solutions as architects and designers are now realizing that lighting represents a very small portion of the total construction cost but generates a very important visual impact that could completely transformed a space during the day or night.