Signify installs its own exec as permanent boss at Fluence

Nov. 6, 2023
A 29-year veteran of Signify and Philips moves into the top job in Austin, Texas. The parent strengthens its control. Will Signify continue to operate two different horticultural lighting outfits?

Signify has now permanently installed its own homegrown executive as boss at its U.S. horticultural lighting group Fluence, naming a 29-year company veteran as CEO of the Austin, Texas company.

Michiel van Dam had been serving as co-CEO while the company searched for a permanent replacement for David Cohen who left in March. The search led to the internal tapping of van Dam has now taken the job full time on his own.

Van Dam had been based in Holland as head of Signify’s agricultural lighting business. Signify runs two different horticultural lighting entities: Fluence, which uses the Fluence brand; and the Eindhoven, Holland–based Signify Horticulture LED Solutions group, which sells under the Philips brand.

“He and his family have permanently relocated to the Austin area and he’s been spending time traveling to meet with Fluence’s customers and partners,” a Fluence spokesperson told LEDs Magazine.

Van Dam had been sharing CEO duties with Signify’s Jhawn Newman, who is a Signify Americas vice president of systems, and who also led the team overseeing the merger with Fluence, which Signify acquired in May 2022. He continues as “post-merger integration leader,” a Signify spokesperson told LEDs.

New solo boss van Dam joined Signify, then called Philips Lighting, in 1994. He has held several Philips and Signify posts over the ensuing three decades. Philips Lighting changed its name to Signify in May 2018, a couple years after it split from parent Philips.

He takes over at a time when the horticultural lighting business is enduring a slowdown, as growers balk at the upfront costs of buying illumination that carries the double financial burden of adding to electricity bills during a time of high energy prices. The cannabis lighting business — a specialty of Fluence — has also been contending with its own market challenges.

By placing one of its own seasoned managers into the top Fluence role, Signify appears to be strengthening its grip on operations in Texas. Neither Fluence nor parent Signify has said whether Signify is planning to eventually combine the two businesses rather than operate them as separate entities.

In a statement that Fluence sent to LEDs, van Dam said, “We [Fluence] remain firmly focused on continuing to dominate in the LED solutions space and help the world grow smarter. We will maintain our distinct go-to-market strategies and the goal remains to ensure our customers receive the best technology solutions possible.”

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

*Updated Nov. 6, 2023 1:05 PM for company-provided photo.

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.