The American Lighting Association (ALA) heads to the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix for networking, education, and fun in September.

Known for top-notch education and meaningful lighting industry networking, the ALA Conference is one annual event you shouldn’t miss. This year, a few changes to the program will take it to the next level, offering attendees what they need to do even better business.

“I’m excited because our conference program agenda hits many of the critical topics affecting members today,” says ALA President Eric Jacobson. “We have the Retail Doctor, Bob Phibbs, who helps brick-and-mortar retailers thrive in today’s online world, and Dean Minuto, a sales strategy specialist who can help our retailers and reps drive sales through winning strategies, plus much more. I look forward to seeing all of our members in Phoenix.”

What’s new and noteworthy at conference this year?

  • A Top Golf event—hosted by manufacturers and sponsored by Intertek—will take the place of the traditional manufacturer booth exhibits and will be held on Monday night. On Monday afternoon (when the exhibit session used to be held) an interactive “play”-based networking activity with Luis Serrano of Fundamentals of Play will help break down barriers.
  • The Young Executives event on Monday night will challenge under-40s with a salsa and margarita cook-off.
  • A “bonus” CLC and CLMR credit seminar will be offered on Monday afternoon with instructor Peter Romaniello, CLC. This session will teach attendees how to develop a showroom light lab and sell connected home products.
  • At the Women in Lighting event on Monday night, Susan Fignar, talent development trainer, consultant, executive coach and President of Pur*sue Inc., will present on “Developing a Personal Brand.”



“You Can Compete: How to Win Against Your Online Competitors”

Monday, Sept. 16, 8-10 a.m.
Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor

Forget fighting tech with tech. Phibbs will teach brick-and-mortar retailers how to focus on fixing in-person experiences to regain their advantage over their online competitors.



Tuesday, Sept. 17, 8-10 a.m.
Dean Minuto, Teligent Corp.

Known as the One Page Sales Coach, Minuto will present a concise summary course in brain science and behavioral psychology for executives with a single-sheet tool that they can use to immediately get to “Yes” faster.

Design Focus

“Best Practices for Showrooms: Lighting Is the Jewelry of the Home”

Tuesday, Sept. 17, 10:15-11:45 a.m.
Lori Dennis, ASID, LEED, AP

Renowned Los Angeles-based interior designer Lori Dennis will facilitate an interactive discussion on key strategies retailers can implement right away to capture more design business. Showrooms will learn how to solve common interior designer problems while maintaining the differences that make their stores stand out.

Developing a Personal Brand

Presenter Susan Fignar of Pur*sue Inc.—the featured speaker at the Women in Lighting event—shares some of her top tips for planning your next career step.

Susan Fignar, talent development trainer, consultant, executive coach and President of Pur*sue Inc., will present how to hone your executive presence and polish your personal brand to advance your career at the Women in Lighting reception.

In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s important to create and cultivate a personal brand as a way to stand out. Whether you’re relatively new in your career or a seasoned vet, would like to be considered for a promotion or would like to position yourself for a new opportunity, examining your value, strengths, and expertise are key to getting there.

Using the acronym O-P-E-N, Fignar will offer a system that will help you do just that.

Optimistic Attitude:

Develop a new mindset where you understand the importance of gratitude and appreciation as you grow in your career. “This is especially important for those seasoned professionals,” says Fignar. “It’s important to be open to learning new things, even late in your career.”


Figure out your professional development strategy. When it comes to Conference, this could mean deciding ahead of time which speakers you want to see and people you want to meet. For your career in general, this means thinking about where you want to go next—achieving a promotion, changing roles, moving to a new company—and writing down the steps you need to take to get there.

Energy and time management practices:

This centers around identifying how you spend your time and figuring out what drains—and recharges—your energy. Do you need to delegate? Set clearer boundaries? Make more time for what you truly enjoy? “For women especially, I always ask, ‘Where are you on your to-do list?’” Fignar says. “Women are notorious for not being one of their own to-do’s.”


What’s new and what’s next in your relationships, and how can you build, strengthen, and deepen them? “At Conference, connect with people for a brief conversation, then follow up afterwards on LinkedIn or other social media,” Fignar recommends. Also, for seasoned professionals, how can you pass down your knowledge to the next generation?

Intrigued? Join Fignar from 5-6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16, to hear more.


NEW! Ceiling Fan Certification

During Conference, a new training document on ceiling fans will be introduced. The manual—which incorporates the input of experts from major ceiling fan manufacturers—is designed to help fully educate the residential lighting industry and installers on ceiling fans with sections that promote troubleshooting and address common issues. The goal is to work toward fixing issues instead of discarding and replacing fans.

“This manual has something for everyone—from the newcomer in the industry to the seasoned sales professional,” says Susan Irie, owner of Kilohana Lighting in Lihue, Hawaii, and an instrumental leader in developing the ceiling fan certification program. “With the developments we’re seeing in technology, we’re finding that this information is new, relevant, and constantly changing. All industry members need to have it.”

Specifically, the manual will explain common fan terminology; materials used; functionality; controls; structural and electrical components; lighting; testing and evaluation installation; troubleshooting; and fan applications.

A session will be offered at Conference to launch the new manual. Irie, along with Kristina Christopher, VP/Sales & Marketing at Fanimation, will speak to the importance of the manual and certification. A small panel discussion will cover some of the daily issues that occur with ceiling fans. The manual will be available to ALA members this fall.


Your Guide to Phoenix

After all the hard work at conference, there’s always room for a little pleasure. The Phoenix area offers a lot to do, no matter your interests. Take a gander at our guide below, and we’ll see you out on the town.

  • If you’re adventurous: Go on a hot-air balloon ride
    Take an hour-long hot air balloon ride high over the Sonoran Desert to see Phoenix and the surrounding areas from a completely different vantage point. This sunrise adventure requires an early wake time, but we hear it’s totally worth it.
  • If you’re outdoorsy: Hike Camelback Mountain
    If you like to earn a little sweat equity, hike one of two trails at Camelback Mountain, located just 30 minutes from the host hotel. Both are challenging hikes—Echo Canyon is 1.23 miles to summit and described as pretty intense, while Cholla is 1.42 miles and a bit more trail-like—that would make for a great early-morning activity. The trails are open sunrise to sunset.
  • If you’re a design buff: Visit Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home
    Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most prolific architects in history, his name synonymous with 20th Century architecture. Taliesin West, his winter home in Scottsdale, was established in 1937 and is open for guided tours. Built and maintained almost solely by Wright and his apprentices, visitors get a special glimpse into his vision when they tour this estate. Visit for more information.
  • If you enjoy a rum cocktail: Visit Breadfruit & Rum Bar
    Breadfruit & Rum Bar serves up island-inspired fare with 150 (yes, 150) varieties of rum to accompany it. Enjoy a fine cigar on the back patio after dinner, or just stop in for a libation and soak in the ambiance.
  • If you have an extra day: Drive up to Sedona
    Just two hours from Phoenix, the picturesque town of Sedona boasts red rock scenery, lush forests, vibrant arts, and a reputation for spiritual wellness. Go on a hike, take a jeep tour, enjoy a spa or boutique winery, and save time for stargazing at night.