New boss takes over at Cree LED

Sept. 19, 2022
Owner SGH discloses in an SEC filing that Claude Demby has retired as president. Cree’s global operations head steps into the role.

Smart Global Holdings has quietly disclosed a change in leadership at Cree LED, the Durham, N.C.based LED pioneer that SGH acquired a year-and-a-half ago.

SGH’s website now identifies Joseph Clark as president of Cree. Clark had been vice president of global operations and has been with Cree LED for 24 years, including a stint as head of LED research and development. He replaces Claude Demby.

Neither SGH nor Cree announced the changed on their websites. But in an 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month, SGH revealed that Demby would retire Sept. 2 as president of SGH’s “LED Solutions” business, which is the financial reporting name that SGH uses for Cree LED, and the company announced Clark's new role on LinkedIn.

In the Aug. 16 filing, SGH indicated that it would promote Clark to president. That move has now happened. Clark’s personal LinkedIn page states that he has held the position since August.

“LED Solutions” Cree LED is one of three business divisions overseen by SGH, a holding company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, with U.S. headquarters in Milpitas, Calif. SGH also runs a high-performance computing division, including artificial intelligence, and a memory products division. Neither of those two groups is directly related to LED lighting.

The muted nature of the executive change at Cree matches the “under the radar” style that SGH CEO Mark Adams described to LEDs Magazine earlier this year as part of the culture he is trying to establish at Cree. It echoes the quiet manner in which the company brought three new high-powered LEDs to the market in its 2022 first fiscal quarter.

Former Cree LED president Demby will continue in a consulting capacity until April 30, 2023, although both Demby and SGH have the right to terminate the consulting gig prior to that, according to the 8-K.

As LEDs noted in a 2019 interview with Demby by our former editor Maury Wright, Demby had been a key player at Cree dating back to its days as both an LED company and a broader lighting outfit. He handled the divestiture of the former lighting portion of the business. And at LightFair back in June, Demby told LEDs that after many years of thought leadership in packaged LEDs, the unit's current focus was "to stabilize consistency in product development rollout" and not "getting more lumens out of a box, but delivering improved color and more flexibility" at the application level. We'll see how upcoming Cree LED releases reflect these comments, which are in line with Adams telling LEDs earlier this year that more custom chips are coming that will allow architectural, entertainment, horticultural, and medical systems developers to more easily mix colors. 

SGH is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth quarter results on Oct 4.

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

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