After a comprehensive executive search that included candidates from other industries, the American Lighting Association’s (ALA) Board of Governors and Executive Committee have selected current Executive Vice President W. Lawrence (“Larry”) Lauck as President, succeeding Eric Jacobson.
While it might seem like an “easy” decision to promote from within, in this case, the Board and Executive Committee performed due diligence and carefully considered the strengths of each of the dozens of candidates to find the best fit.
Sometimes bringing in those with experience in other industries is advantageous – for example, when the American Lighting Association was formed in fall 1993, it was with three professionals (Dick Upton, Eric Jacobson, and Larry Lauck) who were from outside the industry. And other times, selecting new leadership from a far larger or vastly different industry can lead to “fish out of water” syndrome.
When Upton, Jacobson, and Lauck came onboard the newly formed ALA nearly 30 years ago, they brought along experience in government affairs, corporate planning, and consumer marketing, respectively. Those government skills came to the forefront when the industry suddenly faced both increasing legislation as well as market competition from the home center channel.
There have been a lot of unique changes and challenges in the residential lighting industry over the past 29 years and the ALA has kept pace. For example, when monitoring government affairs became a full-time endeavor, the ALA hired a specialist (Michael Weems) to provide daily, concentrated assistance.
When the competition from home centers and big box retailers both physically and online began to negatively impact lighting showrooms’ bottom line, it was Lauck’s marketing prowess gleaned from 15 years as a public relations manager at the premium cable network HBO that helped move the needle for ALA member lighting showrooms by creating successful marketing campaigns that elevated the visibility and value of the local lighting showroom to consumers.
“When we were first starting out at ALA, there were no public relations or marketing programs, and there was no funding for such,” Jacobson recalls, adding it was Lauck who was able to impress upon the membership the importance of greater industry visibility and professional marketing efforts. “Larry was instrumental in launching the BiNational Advertising and PR Program as well as the Google Ad campaigns,” he says.
Lauck also formed the popular Lighting consumer magazine through a partnership with Dotdash Meredith (formerly Meredith), the largest print/digital publisher in America, which publishes People magazine and Better Homes & Gardens, among others. “We are now in our 18th year with Meredith and the Lighting magazine has evolved so much and hopefully will continue to do so,” Jacobson says.
Under Lauck’s guidance and proven success with the initial BiNational Advertising efforts, the ALA reached 45+ million consumers and delivered 381,000 searches for ALA member showrooms last year. “He was responsible for creating the lead generation system on our website that drives customers to ALA showrooms,” Jacobson notes. “Through these marketing and publicity efforts, Larry has really impacted the industry by helping members understand the value of using good photography [on their websites and in advertising] and how it can advance sales.”
Jacobson pointed to other recent developments spearheaded by Lauck, such as the new Video Marketing campaign that was announced this month, which will feature lighting showroom members providing a quick lighting tip for consumers that can be distributed through social media, websites, and e-mail.
Lauck has been instrumental in formulating the 2023 U.S. and Canadian Google ad campaign that will run for a full year, which is a first for the program. Last year, the campaign ran for eight months and attracted more than 381,000 consumers who clicked on the ALA website to find their local ALA showroom and download a digital copy of Lighting magazine.
Furthermore, next month the ALA will roll out another of Lauck’s marketing initiatives: a series of style and lighting tip videos, slides, blogs, and email marketing stories for showrooms to utilize in their own social media campaigns. Included is a brief video that outlines four key reasons why ALA showrooms are the only place to shop for high-quality lighting.
“I feel proud that the ALA board is entrusting Larry and his leadership. I couldn’t have had a better business partner for the past 29 years. His loyalty to the industry is unmatched and I know he will bring more customer engagement opportunities moving forward.”