View Full Version : 3 Days with Kichler in Cleveland

05-21-2012, 04:31 PM
Just got back from a 3-day trip to Cleveland to the Kichler Headquarters. What an amazing experience! I would encourage any of you who install a fair amount of Kichler lighting fixtures to look into going at some point in the future. They do these all throughout the year. Get to know your local Kichler rep. and show some interest. It was a great experience.

Below are some photos I took during the trip. The first day, they took us to a Cleveland Indians pro baseball game. That was a lot of fun, but it was freezing cold that evening. Indians won so that made it more fun. We don't have pro baseball here in Portland. We don't even have a minor league team anymore. So that was something that I never get to do.

The next day we went straight to the Kichler HQ and spent about 8 hours there. They had all of our names on a welcome board at the front entrance. So that was a nice touch. We started with an hour or so meeting various people from Kichler's night lighting division. We met the President, the national sales manager, Western US sales manager, and several others. We also got a nice overview of the history of the company and the scope of what they do.

Next, we went to the product testing facility where they test every variety off light fixture with a huge variety of tests. I'm limited on what I can disclose because we all signed a nondisclosure agreement. But I wish I could share one of the tests with you all. I can almost guarantee you that the other LV lighting brands on the market wouldn't pass this test. Suffice it to say, we were all very impressed with how much Kichler puts their LV lighting fixtures through before they go to market. I would bet their competitors don't do quite that many tests.

Next was the best part of the trip - all of the contractors who came agreed on this. And Kichler had never done this before. They did it on my request, because I really wanted to understand why they made their LED light fixtures the way they do. So we spent a good 3 hours or more with the two lead engineers who designed the whole line of design pro LED fixtures for Kichler. Learned a friggin' TON of stuff we never knew. And we riddled them with tough questions. ("Why are your spot lights co-molded?", "Why can't we replace the lamps?", "Why did you design the heat sink that way and how does it work in comparison to your competitors?", "Why is the color not quite the same as halogen or incandescent?", "What makes you think your LED light fixtures and lamps are going to last 15 years, when the others can't claim that and say yours won't last as long as you claim? - tons of other questions like that.) We learned a ton about color temperature, what it means exactly, how it all charts out, how lights even with the exact same color temperature can still look very different because of binning, what binning is, why they use the variety of LED that they use, how the inner workings of each spot light works and is put together, how and why the heat sinks work the way they do, why they put the driver in a fully potted, inaccessible (enclosed) compartment, product testing, comparisons to their product vs. the way their competitors products are built, and a lot more. It was awesome.

The next part was the warehouse tour. That was amazing. They have a giant warehouse! I tried to take some photos to show how immense the warehouse was. But my photos don't even do it justice. Just the warehouse alone is over 60,000 sq. ft. And that doesn't even fully explain it - because it's 2-3x as tall as any normal warehouse too so they have stuff stacked like 40' - 50' high throughout the warehouse too. It was jaw dropping.

Then we spent an hour or two with the marketing manager, giving our input on product literature, packaging, etc. as well as learning a lot about what they have available for contractors in terms of marketing but also learned a lot about their rewards program.

That night they took us out for a nice steak / seafood dinner. Then just a night of drinks and chatting in the lounge. That was more fun than I am going to get into here....

The next day was a tour of another one of their testing facilities and other parts of the HQ. Then off to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Then we flew out.

It was a great trip. I learned a ton about low voltage lighting design in general, Kichler Design Pro LED and about the company. I'm glad I went. Because I've been having a few second thoughts over the past year. Always getting pulled in different directions from suppliers, other lighting reps, etc. Everyone always trying to tell me why their product was better. And like a lot of people in this forum, I had a lot of challenges with the Kichler lights and why they designed them the way they did. But I felt all my tough questions were answered with really great answers. It was nice to see that Kichler actually had very good reasons for designing the lights the way they have. It was really nice to actually see products sliced in half with a saw and explained to us first hand why the Kichler products are designed the way they are and what their strengths as compared to their competitors products. It was amazing to see some of the tests they put their fixtures through before they go out. We learned a whole lot more than I ever imagined we would. Great trip. Great company. And I'm much more satisfied with Kichler now having seen all this stuff than I was before.

Hope you all enjoy the photos. Gotta get back to work now!

05-21-2012, 04:33 PM
A few more photos.............................


05-21-2012, 08:23 PM
Are they still using indoor wirenuts on the tree downlights out front haha. Did you stay at the holiday inn outside of town? Decent nightlife at that bar/lounge
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Classic Lighting
05-21-2012, 08:26 PM
Impressive, hopefully other manufacturers will have similar events.

05-21-2012, 09:36 PM
Jim, if no one else says it i'll say it,...thank you for sharing. I find your postings pretty informative....
So, on your postings here about Kichler LED line I recently jumped in with both feet and did a project with 56 fixtures, mixture of path, accent and hardscape....Im adding 3-4 more to same job. Client loves it, I love it and the Kichler LED fixtures are awesome. I did have a couple of 15800azt fixtures that the welds on the bottom weren't done correctly which made the fixture wobble but other than that I am really pleased at how the look and perform.

Which class did you take at Kichler, there are a few different ones. I was thinking of going to the one with the "nighttime photography" lessons, but might have to skip it and take at a later date if I need to...

05-21-2012, 09:45 PM
Thanks. I didn't take any classes. It wasn't that kind of trip. It was a contractor fly-in. Which is different than the training sessions they put on. Glad to hear you did a big Kichler install. Would love to see some pics of that! Sounds like a nice big job. I'm going to PM you with something else....

05-21-2012, 10:10 PM
Thats cool...I would love to take pics but as we know that is another task in itself. I am getting ready to purchase a nikon d5100 and use the info and setting i learned in this forum to see if i can get some good shots...if i do i'll definitely post them...

starry night
05-21-2012, 11:21 PM
Nice pics of the FEW people at the baseball game. Heck, you could get more fans in Portland, I bet.

05-22-2012, 12:36 AM
There is a reason why chris perez is upset with his fans. Number one team in division and they have the leagues lowest attendance
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05-22-2012, 12:50 AM
Well, the first photo of the game was taken a good 45 minutes before the game started. So in that photo the seats look really barren because it's well before start time. That's why I wasn't in my seat as well.

The second photo shows more of how many seats were taken. Still, not full though. I was surprised by that too. But it was a Wednesday afternoon. I understand weekend games are fairly full.

Cleveland is a really depressed economy though. I'm not surprised to see the lack of attendance. I don't think a lot of people in town have much expendable income.

David Gretzmier
05-25-2012, 12:19 AM
great post jim. Kichler overall is a huge lighting company and has the funds to truly develop some great Landscape light fixtures. and I know what you mean about questioning where you get stuff. I get calls every week.

Mike M
05-30-2012, 08:35 AM

Thank you for taking the time to share this. I am impressed with the warehouse pics. When you guys were hammering questions, did anyone ask about patterns of growth for Kichler in the US (including regional info), also, I am curious about how they do with exporting (do they and where?).

Thanks, again.

Mike :)

05-30-2012, 01:27 PM
Not specifically that. We did ask about growth in outdoor lighting sales and market share. I'm not sure how much of that I could divulge. But I think I can share that since their Design Pro LED line came out, their sales of outdoor lighting has gone up quite substantially, along with their market share in the low voltage outdoor lighting market. Also, because of the LED line, the volume of outdoor low voltage lighting as a percentage to their total sales of lighting (including all their residential and line voltage commercial lighting fixtures, chandeliers, ceiling fans, etc.) has also gone up dramatically. Low Voltage outdoor lighting is now a big portion of the company's overall sales, where it used to be a pretty small %.

starry night
05-30-2012, 02:15 PM
When I was at a program there last year, we were told that the low-voltage segment was the size of a seed out of the overall watermelon.

05-30-2012, 02:45 PM
We were told something different. It's a very sizable % of their overall sales now, from the figures we were given. I got that from the President of the landscape lighting division.

05-30-2012, 09:16 PM
I have a relative who is Sales Manager for a major Midwest irrigation company who sells Kichler landscape lighting. My wife works for a huge construction company that buys a ridiculous amount of Kichler interior fixtures and therefore gets their butts kissed by a ton of Kichler folks. Their landscape lighting sales, although having gone up a lot lately, does not compair to their interior sales. And it's not close, I've seen both sets of figures. For those of you who really want to know about growth and market percentage it's not that hard to get figures.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes.