There will be a very familiar face at the grand opening of Preciosa’s Dallas showroom on January 19 during the International Lighting Market: Michael Beer, a long-time key executive with Schonbek Lighting in Plattsburgh, N.Y., has returned to the crystal lighting category.
During his hiatus from lighting, Beer dabbled in the construction field and recently served as executive producer on an award-winning documentary called Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, which explores the depths of human trafficking in Eastern Europe. Besides his genuine love for the crystal industry, becoming involved in humanitarian causes has long been one of Beer’s passions. “It wasn’t just about making chandeliers,” Beer says of his previous appointment, “We deeply care about the people in the region [particularly Moldova].”
In fact, going back to one’s roots is an aspect that attracted Beer to join Preciosa, a company that has its own history with Adolf Schonbek, who founded A. Schonbek & Co. in 1870. Both companies manufactured crystal using traditional methods and craftsmanship in Bohemia and had done some work together in the past.
What Beer admires about Preciosa is that it embraces “the authenticity of crystal chandelier making,” he says. “Most of the crystal produced today has become so price-driven. Consumers have no idea about the history and workmanship of the medium,” Beer observes. “Preciosa is all about maintaining the beauty and authenticity, such as using Old World castings and mouth-blown techniques. Our designs involve a lot of skilled craftsmanship that has been learned over many years.” Beer also points out that Preciosa used to manufacture jewelry, therefore the company has considerable experience with producing fine details in crystal.
While price points are indeed a concern during a tough economy, Beer says Preciosa has a solution. “Due to recent efficiencies at the factory in the Czech Republic, we are able to still use the classic techniques and equipment that enhance our abilities, but we are able to minimize waste.” Tooling is often the most expensive part of the manufacturing process and Preciosa has amassed an enviable assortment over the decades. “If you have the right tools, you can also minimize waste,” he notes.
“People aren’t looking for cheap products, they’re looking for quality,” Beer states. “I think people want chandeliers that are in classic and traditional forms, but perhaps because of the more casual lifestyles and the economy, they are seeking less ornamentation, less crystal trim, and cleaner lines. Consumers still love the Williamsburg style, but now [instead of brass] they are opting for the look in glass. Preciosa excels in the graceful curves that are hard to imitate in China.”
The Preciosa showroom in Dallas will unveil the start of the crystal trends that the company envisions. “We will make our designs more applicable to the U.S. market,” Beer comments. “While it is a challenge to [ramp up] in this economy, we also see it as an opportunity.” The Preciosa team is confident that they can exceed retailers’ expectations in quality, style, and customer service. A New York-based headquarters for the U.S. market, encompassing the Weiss & Biheller operations which has recently joined Preciosa’s ranks, is dedicated to providing timely shipments and turnarounds for orders.
“Our team will be in Dallas and we’re very excited to see everyone at our showroom,” Beer says. Preciosa’s permanent showroom is # 3935 in the Trade Mart.