Gary Dulanski is one of those lucky human beings who know from the get-go what they are meant to do in life. He hails from Buffalo, NY, which he refers to as "the land of chicken wings and snow storms." It was there in Sister Michael's sixth-grade science class and in his father's do-it-yourself workshop that he discovered his love for everything mechanical. Buzzers, bells, wires, and sparks are at the top of his list.
"I was always the kid that ran the slide projector in grade school," he recalls. "I always liked electrical things, and became fascinated by them." Throughout high school and college, Dulanski continued to be the technology maven, picking up information in Mr. Hawbaker's general electricity class, for example, and putting it to use at pep rallies and other school events.
"This led to the big room at the back of the stage with the big old auto-transformer dimmers. Not everybody knew how to turn them on," he says, pointing out that he quickly became the expert at handling the various switches. "I was not afraid to take the power covers off and tie into the main buses and rewire things to get more light for a band on the stage in the gym, and make them look like rock stars."
Obviously the technology that Dulanski supports today is diabolically more sophisticated than those old dimmers, but he still has a fascination with how it all works. He is currently a manufacturer's representative at Stan Deutsch Associates, a firm he joined in 1994 and where he was named a principal in 1998.
As such, he calls on some of the most prestigious architectural lighting design firms in New York including H.M. Branston & Partners, Kugler Tillotson Associates, Horton*Lees Lighting Design, and David A. Mintz Inc. to name just a few, as well as designers like Robert Prouse, Marsha Stern, and Hayden McKay.
"I like to help with applications and offer solutions to their problems on the design side. I back up the specifiers to help them support the product," says Dulanski, who reps a long list of architectural products (too numerous to name them all) including Fiberstars, ETC Irideon, Kim Lighting, Kurt Versen, LSI, Louis Poulsen, Reggiani, TIR Systems, and The Watt Stopper. He also serves as a consultant to ETC.
Dulanski is often brought onto a project in the early stages when the lighting is specified. "But I am often the last one paid," he says ironically. "My goal is to provide exemplary service no matter how large or small the job. The relationship with the designer is of the utmost importance."
The career path Dulanski followed may be considered a little unorthodox at best. After a two-year degree in electrical technology at a community college, he went on to SUNY Buffalo to study electrical engineering, with an independent study course in power electronics. This put an end to his life as an actual electrician although he did serve as a counterman at Buffalo Independent Light Company, a local electrical wholesaler and lighting showroom.
At about the same time he started at SUNY, he attended Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Baby concert on New Year's Eve. "This was a Showco project on a real stage with lots and lots of lights," he says, recalling the event that really ignited his interest in stage lighting. With his brothers Ray, Tom, and Dave, the Dulanski boys started 3-D Productions and began to provide stage lighting, sound systems, and special effects.
"There were four of us, but 3-D had a better ring to it," admits Dulanski. 3-D Productions also had a distinctive style PAR can. "We made them out of black metal garbage cans with pigtail wires coming out of the back. They also had a perforated pattern that spelled out the 3-D logo so you could tell who did the lighting. There are still a few of them out there in Buffalo and I kept a few for old time's sake."
After finishing college, Dulanski faced the career choice dilemma, but it seemed his stage days were over. "I had an engineering degree. If you mix engineering and lighting you get dimming," he points out. In 1978, he joined Lutron Electronics Corp. in Coopersburg, PA, as an R&D engineer, but eventually moved toward the sales department. "I could answer customers' questions and train the reps."
In 1986, Dulanski moved to New York City to work for Warshaw Electric, where he became a rep for Lutron and other companies. He has been a rep ever since. "I love being an outside sales guy," he admits.
Dulanski is also a dedicated member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (he is a past president of the New York section), and serves on the Lightfair International management committee. An extremely talented public speaker, he seems to have settled into a lifetime commitment as emcee of the annual Lumen Awards ceremony as well as Lightfair's new product showcase.
Engineer-turned-salesman Dulanski feels this is the best use of his combined talents. He can do a lot of things, from building homemade dimmers to wiring his uncle's house (but not his chain of donut stores). Who knows--if Showco had needed a technician for that Alice Cooper tour, he might have taken a detour and still be out on the road.