What is a lighting representative?

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A key aspect of every building project is lighting and the controls associated with it.
Each project has a wide breadth of parts and pieces that go into the design – from
flooring to ceiling selection and from wall coverings to decorative accents. These
parts and pieces all come together to produce the end result that is envisioned by
the specification team. The various team members work together to provide an end
product for their client. Each client has different demands, different requirements
and different tastes. With millions of products out there, it is difficult for the design
team to have the time to know about every offering out on the market so they need
help to bring their vision to reality. How do they do this? Often, designers go online
for design inspirations or refer to previous projects to see what has been done in
similar situations. However, when relying on online searches in relation to lighting,
often what is found are basic pictures with no specifications nor indication if it has
the requirements for use in the space. These requirements range from whether the
product is rated to be installed in the local market or if it has the amount of light
output to satisfy the code requirements or client’s needs.
Enter the lighting representative. According to the NCQLP (National Council on
Qualifications for the Lighting Professions), the definition of a lighting
representative is a company that works “as employees of lighting manufacturing
companies”. In reality, most lighting sales “reps” are independent agencies that
have contracts to sell the products of several lighting companies in a specific city,
state, region or country.”
The lighting representative agency has a sales force, with individuals they hire
tailored to deal with each aspect of the sale. The sale starts at the specification level,
travels through to the bidding process, to the negation (“closing”) process and then
on to the ordering process, and finalized with installation process. Each agency has
contracts with select factories to sell their products and receive commission as
compensation. Refer to the Wikipedia webpage for more general information –
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturers%27_representative.
Starting with the SPECIFICATION
First up, the sales representative that visits the design professionals. Referred to as
the specification sales representative, this person can be key to helping to put a
design idea on paper or pull the final touches together on the design already
envisioned. He or She should be able to help with design assistance, introduction to
new products, explanations of the technology associated with the products, and
provision of samples or mock-ups when needed. The most successful specification
sales reps usually have a wide knowledge of the products and how they perform. It
is important that this person has a working relationship built on integrity and trust
with the design team. With today’s society relying so heavy on technology, the
representative can provide a lot of this via email. However, nothing compares to the
ability to sit down at a table and discuss design features face to face and be able to
see the products hands-on. It’s important to see design boards or discuss the
finishes on a project to enhance the knowledge of the representative to assist them
in their recommendations of finishes of product, color temperature of the lighting,
as well as any output adjustments to the lighting required. The design assistance
that a lighting representative provides should not be confused with the design that
would be provided by a lighting designer. A lighting representative can assist with
layout recommendations, product selections, layout of control systems, details,
photometric studies, etc. They receive no compensation from the design team. A
lighting designer is a trained professional that provides a full design service that
entails detailed CAD drawings, full selections of lighting products and is paid by the
prime contact of the design team.
BIDDING PROCESS
Next step of a project is for it to be priced up by the bidder(s), otherwise known as
the construction team. The construction team employs professionals that do takeoffs

from the plans and come up with estimated total costs of the products and their
installation. After they have what they believe to be the right listing of the products
they need they send this information, often via electrical supply warehouses (AKA
distributors), on to the respective lighting representative agencies. The sales
representative’s job here is to have a relationship with the distributors and/or
contractors that allows them to have a channel to ask questions about what kind of
products they are going to need to install. The initial specification sales
representative should be providing key insight here on any specifics about the
project. Many modern lighting fixture schedules do not fully define all luminaires.
The project knowledge of the specification rep, combined with the experience and
product knowledge of the rest of the rep team help ready the bill of material
(B.O.M.) for quotation. During the design phase, hopefully, budgets were discussed
and products selected to fall within a specific project’s budget. Pricing is supplied as
per the listed B.O.M. needed. This material includes the lighting, freight to get it to
the city of the project and the controls needed to meet the end user’s needs as well
as the requirements of codes.
CLOSING THE JOB AND THE ORDERING PROCESS
Various people within the sales force are involved in the closing of a project. The
specification sales representative can provide insight as to which general contractor
has been awarded the job. The inside sales staff can assist with value engineer
options and final price adjustments. The outside distributor and contractor sales
team sits down with the electrical contractor to finalize a B.O.M. and price. If value
engineering is needed, the specification sales representative is consulted so that
they can check back in with the design team to see what can be changed on the
project while still meeting the owner’s requirements. The entire team of sales
representatives can assist in money saving suggestions. Once pricing negotiation
and any product changes are finalized, the approval and ordering process begins.
Primary responsibility of submittals, order entering and shipment information falls
to the sales representative that provides the services to the electrical contractor.
This is the key contact person to assist in changes needed to get the project on site
on time. Requests for expediting, product delivery and any pricing should go
through this channel since the lighting was ordered through this channel and there
is a daily communication process about the project with this team of people. It is the
electrical distributor’s responsibility to provide shipping schedules to the electrical
contractor and the electrical contractor’s responsibility to provide this information
to the general contractor. All requests for additional product, changes, shipping
information, etc. should flow through this channel. The electrical contractor is
responsible for the payment, warranty and handling of lighting fixtures and
therefore needs to be the key contact between general contractor and the
representative. The electrical contractor procures all product, safely stores it,
installs it and maintains the warranty of the product as part of their fee. With
procurement, comes ownership of and responsibility for the product until the
project is turned over to the owner.
INSTALLATION AND COMPLETION OF PROJECT
Throughout the construction process, the lighting representative maintains an open
line of communication with the contractor to assist with questions that arise. This
person has a direct line of communication with the factory as well and can assist in
replacement of items that may have been broken via shipment or accident,
expedited delivery dates, and to answer technical questions about the installation of
the lighting. The representative also assists with the final programming of any
lighting controls and the final close out of the project.
IN CLOSING
Key to all projects, lighting can make or break the look of a project. The process to
getting the project design and installation can be accomplished in an easier fashion
when a lighting representative has been consulted by the design team. Find a
lighting representative that you trust due to their knowledge and integrity. One that
also shares the knowledge along the way can help save time for the design and
installation professionals on future projects.