For many years, the words "Keith Dale" and "Celco" were intertwined. But earlier this year, Dale left the company he helped to start and has now taken on the job of international sales and marketing manager for Elektralite, the lighting control division of the US firm Group One Ltd.

1. What's it like to be involved with a new company and product line?

Working with the Group One/Elektralite team is very similar because I've known them long enough to consider them good friends and find the prospect of starting something completely new equal to the challenge taken up many years ago - the only difference is that I'm now blessed with experience.

2. At this point, does Elektralite have much of a presence outside the US?

Elektralite has sold more products outside of the US than most people would probably give it credit for, but for various reasons it has not publicized its success. Increasing its brand image overseas is key to its global success but this can't be achieved overnight - there's a lot of groundwork to cover first. But we've made significant progress, and soon I believe most people will start to sit up and take notice.

3. Are there certain markets or geographical areas that you feel are most likely to be interested in Elektralite products?

All markets are probably saturated when it comes to control equipment, but there are certain areas we're especially interested in - clubs and the retail/architectural/entertainment crossover sector. We're also keen to promote the CP100xt to the rental company sector as a viable alternative to more established brands. Geographically, we want to build on our strengths in Europe before expanding our activities further afield.

4. How do you plan to increase awareness of Elektralite's identity in Europe and the Far East?

Consistent presence in trade journals and Internet activities, and trade show attendance in cooperation with national distributors.

5. Do you see any specific market challenges for the industry as a whole in 2001?

A specific challenge to a US manufacturer like Elektralite is the continued weakness of the Euro. Currently, export margins are sometimes squeezed to the minimum acceptable in order to be competitive - but at least it means we have to keep our finger on the pulse. Some positive change (depending on your viewpoint) to the exchange rates would allow us to normalize margins and level the playing field when it comes to competing for market share.

A substantial number of companies have signed up to participate in the new market research program sponsored by the Entertainment Services and Technology Association. The companies include: ADB-TTV Technologies, Apollo Design Technology, Arriflex, Artistic Licence, Avab Scandinavia, Avolites, Bytecraft, Camco, City Theatrical, Colortran, Compulite R&D, Electronic Theatre Controls, ETA Systems, Doug Fleenor Design, Flying Pig Systems, Future Light, GAM Products, GE Lighting, Group One Ltd., High End Systems, Jands, JEM Smoke Machines, Lehigh Electric Products, Lighting & Electronics, Lycian Stage Lighting, MDG Fog Generators, Martin Professional, NSI, Ontario Staging, Osram Sylvania, Pathway Connectivity, PerkinElmer Optoelectronics, Philips Lighting, Pook, Diemont & Ohl, Prolyte Products Group, Reel EFX, Rosco Laboratories, Selecon, Stage & Service, Strand Lighting, Strong Entertainment Lighting, James Thomas Engineering, Tomcat USA, Transtechnik, Vari-Lite, Ushio, Wybron, and Zero 88.

According to Lori Rubinstein, ESTA's executive director, this level of participation means that studies will go forward in these categories: moving lights, fixed luminaires, followspots, lamps, dimmers, control and networking, atmospheric effects, and truss and towers. Other categories are awaiting green-light status, based on the number of companies willing to participate.

Rubinstein stresses the benefits the program is designed to bring to the industry: "Manufacturers have historically had to guess at the size of their market and their share in it. This service will put an end to that guesswork by providing actual sales figures for various products on a quarterly basis; the information will also be broken down geographically - more information that will aid companies in their planning." She adds, "This data will help companies to obtain financing for new initiatives or in valuing businesses to be sold. And, most importantly, participants can use this information to make informed decisions about new products, marketing plans, and personnel."

She continues, "The information-gathering process is completely confidential. An independent third-party accounting firm has been hired to collect the data; no one outside of the company will see information about any company." Most important, she says, "Only participating companies will have access to the final reports."

The deadline for participating in this year's round of market research is March 15. "This is an historic initiative which promises important benefits for our industry," she says. To take part in the program, or to find out more, contact her at ESTA, at 212-244-1505, or via email at lrubinstein@esta.org.