3 Days with Kichler in Cleveland
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!