Tony Davidson: President and CEO of Kichler

Tony Davidson: President and CEO of Kichler

Tony Davidson: President and CEO of KichlerenLIGHTenment Magazine is proud to present the recipients of our annual awards series honoring those individuals in our industry who have been nominated by their peers for leading by example, standing out in their field, and inspiring others.



How did you enter the industry?

I started my lighting career working on the south side of Chicago, hanging fixtures and taking distributors’ inventories. My first two years were spent either on a ladder or in a warehouse, which helped me to understand what made a lighting showroom operate. I learned early on that a successful showroom was dependent on every department being linked together for its success. When I was eventually assigned my own sales territory, it was important for me to know the role of every person in the business.

What have been some of the biggest changes you’ve seen?

I have seen many changes that have impacted our industry, but the biggest transformation is what’s happening today in LED technology and the advancement of it. Not only the usage of the light source by the end-user, but a re-education throughout the supply chain from product design, certification requirements, manufacturing, retailers/wholesalers, installers and ultimately the consumer. Nothing in my career has delivered that kind of change.

What do you think has been the key to your success?

I wouldn’t say there’s only one; several have influenced my career. This is my 30th year with Kichler and working in a family business has provided a sound footing to operate within and has guided me in my day-to-day dealings with our employees, customers, and sales representatives.

The company’s entire business philosophy is centered on the customer and not a transactional relationship. Working for the Minoff family and having Sam Minoff as my mentor is something that I will forever treasure. He has given me an education one cannot buy. I also realize the more responsibility I was given over the years, the more I was dependent on others for our success. Kichler has a lot of assets that show up on the financial reports, but our greatest assets are the people behind the numbers. We have dedicated and caring employees that give us a competitive advantage.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started?

I’ve learned to not be overly occupied with good competitors. I used to be too concerned about what others were doing, but putting the greater emphasis on how we can improve and execute as a company is really the only thing we should be focused on. Our major competitor is not another lighting manufacturer, but our own scorecard of metrics: fill rates, order turn time, customer satisfaction, quality levels, new product acceptability, etc. Our goal is to be better than our “best performance.” It will have the greatest influence on our company and employees, and is the only thing we can control.

Where do you envision Kichler to be in the next 5 to 10 years?

Kichler is approaching 80 years in business, and yet longevity gives us no assurance in our future. Having a sound business strategy is important; however, the challenge of any strategy is the successful execution and in the end, the customer has to benefit from our strategy. We are a company that continues to have a laser focus on improving year over year through product leadership and operational excellence. We will continue to strive to be a company that values our employees and the individual contributions each of them brings to Kichler. We will continue to focus on our customers and help them grow, support their businesses, and achieve the end result they desire.

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