Kichler Trip

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by LightYourNight, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

    Point Taken.....I think if multiple Manufacturers were on the board then this argument wouldnt be so valid but it is what it is. Whether its because other manus dont volunteer their time to be on board orthey dont get nominated is potentially part of the issue here but like Mike said we were getting a feeling of the board being "stacked" and it was hard for us to feel like we were getting a fair shake. The other manus that are their obviously dont mind so maybe its just us?

    But at any rate....its a dead horse to beat now....not important on our end any longer. Like I said, we wish the best for the AOLP!
  2. niteliters

    niteliters LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 537

    Joey, I don't believe another manufacturer has stepped up. I believe the by laws are set a a maximun of 2 manus. sooooo, reup, get nominated, canvas for votes, and maybe next year u can laugh with us at these types of emails since you'd know whats really going on...a group of diverse men and women seeking to improve our industry. Thier diversity (manus, distributors,students,asoociates,contractors), I believe is what make this association so unique and worth being a part of. Best to you my brother from another mother
  3. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 751

    Sorry Mike G I did take your post the wrong way. Thanks for clearing that up.

    On a side note why is the aolp so expensive?
    I would like to join but seems expensive to read some forums.
    Also I was gonna go out to Arizona but why was the convention so expensive?

    Where is this money all going. The aolp still hasn't stepped in with our problems in jersey yet.

    Sorry for the rant. Unless someone wants to inform me of the positives of aolp I dont think I will be joining anytime soon

    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    I think it's a great thing that Kichler and or anyone else would treat their customers to a vacation like this. I think its not a good thing when so many like minded and bonded individuals are on an asssociation bd. together making decisions.

    This organization makes every important decision based on how it will affect their manufacturer members first. At $2,400 membership fee ( And several thousands more if they sponsor and participate at conference) for a manufacturer compared to $175 for a contractor is it any wonder? Contractors are dispensable, manufacturers are not. I don't blame the manufacturers , it's just the way the whole association is now structured and how it's evolved. If this is to be a contractors association like it was intended to be then it has to be different.

    Talk is cheap for those who are defending the AOLP in this thread and are claiming that there is no major influence from certain manufacturers. I've been a member on two different ocassions and I experienced the politics both times.

    A real and insincere game is talked by some members to your face as how the goal of the association is to advance the industry. That's fine as long as they have a piece of your action and are profitting from your installations. As soon as you become a "perceived " competitor or support a competitiors product than the gloves are off and it's no longer how we are all about "advancing the industry". Instead it's more about how we can launch a smear campaign to disable any possibility of you infringing on their market share.

    So much for the celebration and embracement of new, better and innovative products. It's much easier and more effective to seed the industry with rumors of how your product uses too much electricity or even causes fires.
    Haven't we gotten past all this? It seems not. And then you're supposed to come together for the so called betterment of the industry? I don't think so.

    The truth is the association suffers from a revolving door with a very high attrition rate. Even at a measly $175 , many contractors do not see the value of remaining a member and they simply do not renew. Several manufacturers have come and gone too.

    If the powers that be believe that the economy was the only reason for the very poor turnout this year than you are sorely mistaken and should take a deep long look at your practices and policies and especially your cavalier atitude regarding contractor membership.

    Sorry if this upsets you but I have to speak my peace. If you are smart you won't get mad but you will realize you've got alot of changes to make if you are going to survive. Trust me when I tell you this sentiment is shared by many but won't bother to tell you. They just won't renew their membership.
  5. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    He speaks the truth.

    Now, there are some positive developments on the horizon too. I really think the recent momentum towards forming regional/local chapters of the AOLP is a good thing. Doing so will bring more control and responsibility for programs & support directly to the contractors and in turn should help increase interest in membership. At present the AOLP, as an international association, is just too unresponsive to the needs and interests of so few members spread over such a vast territory. (The situation in NJ, and here in Ontario are prime examples.)

    I was not a member of the AOLP when it was decided to allow manufacturers and distributors to participate on the Executive & Board of Directors. Had I been, I would have opposed the change.

    Bottom line, the optics of having a large proportion of the AOLP Executive directly involved in, or loyal to, the interests of one manufacturer is not a good thing. It will continue to incite controversy and probably result in fewer new contractor members joining and some deciding to not renew their membership. The situation has, to some degree, already cost the Association the membership of one Manufacturer.
  6. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

    I must say Mike G.. Your post is right on in so many ways. As is yours James!

    Word spreads fast and some of the same members who were singing our praises a year ago are now speaking out against us due to us pulling out. But that is to be expected I guess. We cant win them all!

    Our explanation of all the reasons we pulled out is in our Unique Forum here on Lawnsite. There it is laid out as to why we left and the fact that it wasn't just that Kichler was on the board but that Kichler was on the board as were a couple of very loyal Kichler users and then Kichler put out a piece directly going at Uniques 24v system as being smoke and mirrors pitting our 24v system against their LED systems as if any halogen system can compete with the low draw an LED can produce. That was the straw that broke the camels back. We just did not want to continue to dump marketing dollars into an association that has our most outspoken competitor in control of those dollars.

    Regardless if Mike is pushing Kichler at Board meetings or not is irrelevant. He sits on the board with that K on his shirt pocket and is helping influence decisions. Whether they are self serving or not does not matter. Had this piece by Kichler not come out then I am confident we would have most likely attended conference this year and still been supporting manufacturers. So them being on the board effected our membership which in turn is effecting others from considering. I promoted the AOLP to everyone of our customers through newsletters and through conversation. I enjoyed conference and working with the AOLP membership. But tough decisions have to be made at times. It's just the way the ball bounces!

    I wish it was different. I appreciate your kind words niteliters, your one of the great guys in the AOLP for sure!!
  7. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    Mike, James and Joey,
    I have to agree with all of you. Local chapters are essential for gaining momentum and effecting change for the industry on a regional level. I think the AOLP has to get back to it's roots and be based on "the contractor" and not focusing on which manus products are the best and who is playing favorites.
    It should be about teaching contractors:
    1. Standardising installation practices for Certification on systems 12v-30v.
    2. Business management, service and customer retention.
    3. Image promotion of the general lighting industry.
    4. Start local or regional AOLP chapters (contractors only) to positevely reinforce these principles in market areas that are a direct influence and impact on our personal customer bases. Recruiting of new members should include but not be limited to: Any contractors installing low energy lighting, Line voltage lighting, lighting designers interior/exterior, anyone dealing with LED or fiberoptic lighting installations. (Manus are welcomed and encouraged to attend, but can not be a voting member of the association.
    5. Basic design principles should be taught, but new ideas and personal creative expression should be encouraged and tolerated in luminary design.
    6. Regional chapters should have their members voted in by their peers in the industry.
    7. The regional chapters should encourage their members to unite and work together on public related projects that are soley for the image enhancement and general local awareness of our industry. Projects should be neutral in nature, all labor comped, if manus want some credit and an opportunity to "reveal" their product to contractors, they would be encouraged to donate materials for such a project and would receive credit and worthy notation accordingly. All projects would be highly visible to the community and would be maintained on a rotational basis between contributing contractors. Appropriate media attention would be made along with numerous press releases to notify the general populus of the project and invite them to come and experience it. Temporary public lighting exhibitions could also be done with the same cooperation and media attention. The whole goal of this is to raise "lighting" awareness in our respective communities on a local level.
    8. Local dues could be used to organize "non company specific" direct mail pieces or other marketing sufficient to again raise awareness about the lighting community with the goal of getting people to think of living their life indoors and out with thoughtful and creative use of "Lighting for everyday life".

    There are many more I could go on about, but it needs to be in the hands of the contractors IMHO.
  8. Firefly Lighting

    Firefly Lighting LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98

    Being the current president of the AOLP and as Mike points out a non-kichler contractor I wanted to make a comment on what is being said on this thread. First of all I have been on the board for a while now and was one of the board members who (along with the rest of the board) decided that it was nessacary for the AOLP to allow manufacturer and distributor involvement. Manufacturers and distributors are a vital part of the industry and have the ability to support organizations in ways that contractors can not. The AOLP is totally a volunteer organization and being a contractor I can tell you that they as a group are not jumping over fences to volunteer, it always seems to be what can the organization do for me, not how can I help the organization grow or carry out its mission. So, having put so much time and effort into this organization I don't take it lightly when members and non members who are not involved in the association sit back and make false and misleading statements about things that they have little knowledge of. There is no one on the board that has a motive other than for this organization to grow and we do have 2 manufacturers represented on the board as well as 1 distributor and 4 contractors so I think that it is well balanced. Joey and Unique's issues with what Kichler sent out to are just that, their issues, and they should take it up with each other and leave the AOLP out of it. There is no conspiricy, the AOLP is still a contractor centered organization which is evidenced by our annual conference program and our certification programs which are all focused on the contractor. I could go on but I think you all get the point, its just a shame to see so much energy being focused on the negatives when there are so many positives.

    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    "The AOLP is totally a volunteer organization and being a contractor I can tell you that they as a group are not jumping over fences to volunteer, it always seems to be what can the organization do for me, not how can I help the organization grow or carry out its mission. So, having put so much time and effort into this organization I don't take it lightly when members and non members who are not involved in the association sit back and make false and misleading statements about things that they have little knowledge of. "

    It's very unfortunate that you choose to dismiss the facts as false and misleading statements instead of acknowledging that there are problems and you are working hard to improve them. That would be your first step in the right direction. How about these for false and misleading.

    Tell me when anything I say here is false. You guys reading this please tell me how this is for treatment of a contractor member. I'm only going to get into two specific slights here there were more but I will cover only two here.

    I was the first winner ever of your awards of distinction program. The first year the association was in existence. In fact I won all three categories there was no one else who shared any of the honors that year.

    Tell me on your website or anywhere in your public promotional or archival material where that is mentioned or even acknowledged?

    All other years are documented yet nothing exists from year one as if it never happened. You know it's true. The association got plenty of mileage by using my winning photos all over your website (until last spring), on your promotional materials, etc. All without ever giving Mike Gambino 1 iota of credit.

    I also have the plaque to prove it which took 9 months and 5 phone calls to receive.

    Now hear this. I was told my packet was never received by the judges 3 days before judging of this contest while I was still in Ca. I had to scramble around , go out to 3 clients and get their signatures once again at the last minute. Put all the photos together and fill out all the forms again and then Fed exed to Florida the day before I left on my plane trip there just so I wouldn't have been disqualified.

    Then I'm told that the judges (told to me by a bd member at the time), who were not suppose to know whose photos they were judging, did everything in their power to try and give the other 2 awards to others whose projects were clearly and far inferior. Two days of wrangling and then they got the bd involved to strategize how they were going to pull this off. Finally they realized it was not going to work since the winning photos were to be shown on the screen the last night of the conference. So instead of rightfully awarding me all three categories they decided to deny me and turn around and say oh we are only giving 1 award this year. meanwhile I paid for three categories , was never offered a refund for the two, and went through hell to get that entry in when I was told that they mysteriously never received my original entry packet. yeah right!

    And all of this why? because I used an upstart manufacturers product that was sold direct to me not through a distributor and certain member manufacturers and distributors were very much bent out of shape because they didn't approve of how this upstart company went to market.

    For several years I e-mailed the association and asked them to please stop using my work without giving me credit for the photos and never acknowledging my victory on their website. All I asked for was the proper credit and they would have my permission to you the photos. I was told that they didn't need my permission and they kept on using them. I even personally spoke to you Mr. president at last years conference regarding this and you treated me with indifference and did not do the right thing. So very nice .

    Needless to say my first tenure lasted 2 years and after such treatment I never renewed.

    For several years I was asked by a few friends who stayed with the association to come back things had changed.

    Last year I rejoined and went to the conference. I had good intentions. I wanted to get involved and let by gones be by gones and start fresh. I offered to work on the website. At least one bd. member made it clear that he had reservations about my being in control of the website. He had the nerve to say that I was going to use it as my own personal vehicle for my own benefit and self promotion. Ok Fine. I'm out if you feel that way then take care of the site yourself.

    There is much more that happened after this but there is no use going into it. My point has been made.

    Please don't insult me or anyone else and ever say again that I've made false and misleading statements regarding your association. I swear on my life that everything that I've stated here is the truth without embelishment or exaggeration.

    You can come back in here and say that the first incident didn't happen on your watch but you can't deny what went on this year with you at the helm.:nono:
  10. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 751

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