Seeing the light - OPTILED Lighting International

Date Announced: 19 Dec 2010

Sales of traditional bulbs are set to dim as a new product that lasts longer wins customers.

Three years ago, most people in Hong Kong knew very little about LED (light-emitting diode) lights. Now this type of lighting is just as easy to purchase as traditional light bulbs.

The acceptance of LED products in the SAR increased significantly during the past couple of years, according to Peter Chan Cheong-tak, managing director of Hong Kong-based OPTILED Lighting International, which has been in the LED lighting business for 10 years.

"I want to work in an industry which sits at the frontier of science," said Chan, who received a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas and later earned an executive MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, Ontario. The former telecoms industry executive joined OPTILED in January 2009.

Using LED lights instead of traditional incandescent light bulbs will become an "irresistible choice" for customers, according to Chan, adding that it was this future potential that attracted him to OPTILED in the first place. Since the start of 2009 employee headcount increased from 70 to over 120 while sales distribution outlets in Hong Kong tripled to 300. Chan admits that traditional incandescent lighting is deep-rooted in people's minds - having been around for more than 100 years. "So it is very important for us to communicate with customers and explain why they should pay five to six times the price of a traditional bulb for an LED light," he said.

The first benefit to communicate is the fact that LED lights are just as bright as traditional bulbs but last six times longer. The average service time for an LED light is 35,000 hours versus only 5,000 to 6,000 hours for an incandescent bulb. Put another way, if a homeowner leaves the lights on for 10 hours a day, an LED light will last for 10 years. "It could at least save you the trouble of changing light bulbs for 10 years," joked Chan. The other major benefit is lower energy consumption which saves money and protects the environment. Depending on the LED product, energy consumption is reduced from 30 percent to 90 percent over traditional lighting.

Chan said LED lights offer additional benefits that help them compete with traditional bulbs. They produce no heat, reducing the need for air conditioning in some instances. And less heat means they are more suited for food and cosmetic displays where excess heat can damage the products. Corporate customers of OPTILED in Hong Kong include Hang Seng Bank (0011), a number of hotels, local store chains such as Hung Fook Tong and even some 24-hour convenience stores. These customers have one thing in common: they need to keep their lights on for long hours so switching to LED technology has reduced their operating costs.

Besides selling off-the-shelf LED products, OPTILED also provides lighting solutions to its corporate customers. "We provide lighting designs and calculate how to create better lighting effects with LED products as a substitute to their original lighting system," Chan said. Not surprisingly, Chan is bullish about the future of LED technology. "We saw a double digit growth in the LED market during the past year and we expect the market to keep growing at the same pace for the next few years," he said.

Besides its Hong Kong headquarters, the company already has established several offices to Singapore, Australia, Japan and the United States. We plan to enter the [LED] market in India, South America, the Middle East and Europe in the next year," he added. OPTILED also sees great potential from the developing BRIC economies - Brazil and Russia, as well as India and China - as there are on-going infrastructure projects which will expand the market for LED lighting.

Meanwhile, Chan said the firm spends "generously" on research and development while it also maintains close relationships with third party R&D firms to ensure it keeps up with the latest cutting-edge LED technologies. One new development from OPTILED is the "light belt" which operates similar to a traditional fluorescent tube, the difference being that the light belt can be up to 25 meters long. Chan said the light belt is currently only used in niche applications but he has no doubt it will replace traditional fluorescent tubes someday. "The light belt is flexible, waterproof and easier for transportation," Chan said. "Once the technology is mature, there will be no place left for traditional lamp tubes."

OPTILED also allocates some of its marketing budget to sponsorships that are able to best highlight the benefits of its products. As an example, the company recently partnered the Chinese University of Hong Kong to provide lighting equipment for a school in Yunnan in the mainland. "We installed some of our LED lights in the classroom while placing a small wind power [generator] on the roof," Chan said.

The LED lights illuminate the classroom using the power generated by the wind turbine, cutting electricity costs. Chan said it was a cost effective way to demonstrate the benefit of LED technology coupled with green power. When asked what his target and expectations are for OPTILED, Chan replied:"Of course I have requirements for myself, my team and my products, but I never set targets for OPTILED." He explained that because LED lighting technology is developing rapidly, it is difficult to anticipate future products and that in turn makes it hard to set firm targets.

But Chan said he does expect the company to go further and expand its LED products. "We must always focus on the products, focus on what the market needs," he said, adding that although the future is unpredictable, the market holds the key. "I don't like to stay in the office, I like to spend time in our retail stores talking to our customers, learning about what they need," he said.

Competition in the LED market is heating up and in order to survive some companies are resorting to misleading promotions, according to Chan. "I always tell my team members that we should never jeopardise the company's reputation for money," he added. Meanwhile, Chan has no doubt that LED products will be nothing less than a revolution for the lighting industry. "We just have to make sure, when the revolution happenes, OPTILED is a part of it"

Contact
Quah HuiLing Marketing Communications OPTILED Lighting (S.E.A) Pte Ltd

E-mail:hlquah@optiled.com

Web Site:www.optiled.com

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