Interview with Jeff Watson, General Manager
Could you tell us about the history of Sammode Lighting and its core activity?
A family-owned company, Sammode started in France 90 years ago! Its name comes from the acronym Société d’Application des Méthodes Modernes d’Eclairage Electrique (Modern Electric Lighting Method Application Company). It aimed at bringing electric lighting into homes, government buildings and factories. Initially a generalist, Sammode was present in every market segment, from household to window display, illuminated facades to streetlights and even boxing ring! Soon however, Sammode switched its focus to technical lighting for industry, supplying mines in industrial northern and eastern France, as well as the newly founded national rail company SNCF. In the 60s, Sammode focused production on robust, long-lasting linear fluorescent lighting solutions designed to withstand extreme environments and in 1967 submitted a patent for a sealed cylindral lighting device, later known as the ‘Sealed Fluorescent Tube’, which quickly proved very popular. Sammode then targeted the refinery and oil rig market, before fitting France’s first nuclear power stations. In the 90s, the company began to return to architectural lighting, and gained fame for providing lighting for the new French National Library.
In Australia, Sammode Lighting Australasia is a joint-venture between Sammode France and the Australian LCA Holdings, owner of several other lighting brands all specialised in a different sector. Distributed locally since 2009 by Eye Lighting (one of LCA Holdings’ brand), but only established since 2014, Sammode Lighting Australasia has initially focussed on industrial lighting in Australia, with architectural lighting offering to be introduced later this year. So far, we specialised in various industries such as food & beverage, rail, mining, transport & infrastructure and manufacturing. Our lighting solutions are particularly reputable in hard manufacturing environments. Thanks to our end-to-end control of our ‘Made in France’ production chain, Sammode can guarantee the very best quality from -60°C to 200°C. Our products can also sustain pressure wash, hot water up to 80°C and cleaning solutions. In these applications, where some of our competitors’ products have a lifespan averaging 6 to 12 months, we offer a 5 year warranty on all our products, which typically last 10 to 15 years.
Can you describe your personal background, and your role as General Manager?
I was born and bred in Queensland. I trained as a mechanical engineer and have always worked in various industries, including electrical, metal, concrete and mining. I’ve been very lucky to be involved in many projects through the mining boom. I have been now in the lighting sector for 8 years. I was the National Sales Manager for Eye lighting at LCA Holdings, overseeing a team of 10 to 15 sale persons, until I took the reins of the newly created joint-venture in 2014.
At this stage, I am still the only official representative of Sammode Lighting Australasia. Thanks to the joint-venture with the LCA Holdings, we share resources, such as Marketing, Procurement, Admin, Warehousing, IT and Application Engineering, with the other brands of the group. Over the last 12 months, I have travelled a lot and laid solid foundation for relationships in various industries such as food & beverage, rail, mining, transport & infrastructure and manufacturing. My job is fairly easy really, as the performance of my products in terms of resistance and longevity speaks for itself. I meet with industrials all over Australia to convince them to invest in the right products to control their future expenses. It’s a logical cost reduction strategy, but it still amazes me how we can be so short sighted in Australia!
How do you envisage the future of your company and how can FACCI help you achieve your objectives?
Thanks to our strong expertise and reputation in the sector, we see a very bright future for us in Australia. Our objective for 2016 is a growth of 200% and we’re right on track after the first quarter. Continuing the LED revolution which started 3-4 years ago, Sammode will be leading on the field of Smart lighting. Our strength is to combine experience, R&D, cutting edge technology, as well as design and manufacture expertise. We also have a whole another avenue for development with architectural lighting.
Being part of the French-Australian Chamber of Commerce was a natural step. A network is a real strength and since we have already worked with many French companies such as Airbus, Bel, Lactalis, Alstom, DCNS, GDF Suez, PSA Citroen, Saint-Gobain, Sanofi-Avantis, SNCF, Total or Veolia in France, it seemed obvious that we should keep cultivating those relationships overseas. We’ve already seen the benefits of attending events of the Chamber in Brisbane in particular the Transport & Infrastructure or Energy & Resources Industry breakfasts. It can help us, as a small company, to talk to big companies.
For more information, consult www.sammode.com.
Interview conducted by Claire Dupré on the 21 March 2016.
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