The ever-changing entertainment lighting market has a new player in Apogee Lighting, headed by John Adams, a well-known industry figure. Adams, whose career has included stints at High End Systems and Apogee Sound, is the driving force in the new company. But the first thing he wants you to know is, Apogee Lighting has nothing to do with Apogee Sound.
“I was there [at Apogee Sound] for three years,” says Adams. “I was approached towards the middle of last year by IAG, a company that owns a number of old British brands that have a real legacy and value.” IAG is in the sound business — among its product lines are Wharfedale speakers — but had made the decision to move into lighting under the name Apogee. “They registered the name two years ago,” says Adams by way of explanation. He adds, laughing, “When I went to my interview, it was quite strange — all I had to do was cross out one line on my business card!”
Apogee Lighting, then, is a division of IAG, a British firm with very old roots in China. “We own a factory in China,” says Adams. “We are a vertically integrated manufacturer.” This arrangement, which provides high-quality work at low prices, has paid off handsomely, he says. “The Chinese are a force to be reckoned with. I believe the future of our industry is now China. Everyone in the business who's serious is using, or considering using, China as a source for products.”
But what sort of products should one expect from Apogee, in the already crowded moving-light field? “We have an interesting business model,” says Adams. “There's not a market for the leading technology. The professional end users have been stuffed with products; they have had to buy what LDs want on the next tour. But they need to get their money back. In audio, you have five years for a product to pay back, as opposed to one or two years in the lighting industry.”
Thus, he says, “We're taking core technology, which is established and proven, and repackaging it into products for the mid-market. The emphasis will be on quality, performance, and excellence in construction, at a low cost. Being vertically integrated, we haven't got that OEM layer that you find in standard manufacturing arrangements. Every time you have a sub assembly, they've got to make a profit. We make everything in-house — light source, gobo, color wheel, mirror, die casting, injection-molded plastic. That way, you can make the products cheaply; you can keep the quality up and the price down.”
Adams says that the plan is to launch a line of 14 core products at this year's LDI. They will include, he says, “products for the mobile DJ; entertainment products, sold through the normal channels of installers and dealers; a strong range of architectural products.” As for distribution, “We have a warehouse in the US, which we own. We haven't got the trade barrier of saying to the musical instrument dealer in Alabama, ‘You have to send the money to China and it will be here in 10 weeks.’”
The result is a plan that Adams finds exhilarating. “I see the next 10 years as a very creative time,” he says. “When I went round the factory for the first time, I was like a kid in the toy store — we have 1,500 workers and all these fully automated machines that can turn out products cheaply. We own and operate the machines. There are no limits.”