Robe Lighting, formerly known worldwide as Robe Show Lighting, is in the process of rebranding. Part of that effort included moving the US headquarters during the summer to new digs in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where both Robe and Anolis architectural LED products are stocked. CEO of Robe Lighting Inc. Jens Horneman discusses his background and plans for the company.
Robe has a new larger US facility, a new branding campaign, and a new vision. What message is Robe trying to send in the US and how will it affect customers?
Robe has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years with a market positioning as one of the big three manufacturers (Vari-Lite, Martin, and Robe), yet the awareness on the American market remains rather limited. The larger facilities (quadrupled), the new branding exercise (dropping the “Show”) is proof and dedication to the stage, studio, and architectural segments where we have gained solid market shares. Our 2008 campaign is called the “Discover” campaign as we strive to educate the prospects about the depth of our offerings. Few people over here realize how big we are and that, for example, we are one of the leading manufacturers of LED products.
With our new facilities, our customers will experience a stronger presence and a stronger commitment from Robe. Another example of our determination is this year's LDI, where we will occupy 2,800sq-ft., the single biggest booth on the floor.
You have a background in lighting. Where did you gain most of your experience in this market, and how did you join the team at Robe?
I began at Martin's HQ in the early '90s and stayed onboard for nearly a decade with long stints in both Italy and France. I also did a couple of years with Coemar a few years ago, so, yes, I do have a few years under the belt in this industry. Joining Robe was a natural next step — it fits with my skill sets working in a fast-paced, fast-growing environment; i.e., to take the firm to the next level. Let's just say we found each other.
How does the US market differ from the rest of the world for your products?
Product-wise, I do not find significant differences between the US and, say, the European market. There remain some specific requests at times, but like anything else, globalization has had its impact to streamline product development. On one point, though, markets are alike, and that's when it comes to reliability and that's one of Robe's tried drivers of success.
How is the market changing, and how are you responding to that?
In this electronic world of ours, music downloading is just a click away, and its biggest consumer base — young adults — are often copying their favorite tunes, cutting the artist short of important income. This has led to new trends; a major one is to go back on the road. Filling stadiums has become a serious business, and I see that pie becoming bigger and bigger. Needless to say, the advent of LEDs has already begun, and it will affect us profoundly, and, to a degree, the world wide web has changed our way of communicating. It's bigger than we think.
What is Robe's plan for the next year? The next five?
To match our worldwide success in the US! Anyone who has acquired our products agrees that we have the most reliable performing fixtures in the marketplace, and despite a disadvantageous Euro/dollar situation we remain very competitive. Once the awareness increases, the rest will follow.