By David P. Mead
Editor's note: Albeo Technologies was recognized as a 2010 Colorado Company to Watch and Jeff Bisberg, CEO, has been recognized as a 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year regional finalist.
Most of us familiar with the computer industry know Moore's law which postulated that the number of transistors on a chip doubles about every two years. But how many of us have ever heard of Haitz's law? Haitz's law, which states that the performance of an LED doubles every two years, may explain not only the exponential growth of the LED lighting industry, but also the future growth of Boulder-based Albeo Technologies.
Albeo Technologies designs, manufactures, and sells energy efficient LED lighting solutions for industrial and commercial buildings, including warehousing, data centers, etc. Albeo Technologies has enjoyed growth of over 100 percent compounded annual growth over the last three years. Between 2009 to 2010 the company grew by 3.5 times. When I met recently with Jeff Bisberg, he was enthusiastic about the growth prospects for Albeo.
What are some of the benefits of Albeo's LED lighting?
LED lighting saves energy, is cost effective and has significant environmental benefits. Energy and cost savings can be as much as 57% with the Albeo C-Series which represents significant savings over the total lifetime of the fixture and contributes greatly to a short payback period. Third-party independently tested, Albeo lighting can last up to 100,000 hours, reducing the need for costly maintenance and replacement bulbs. Environmental benefits of Albeo LED lighting include reduced carbon emissions and no mercury.
How is Albeo's market approach different?
There are several differences. First, Albeo is a pure LED lighting company. We specialize in LED lighting technology. We do not offer LED lighting only as an alternative to a core line of fluorescent lighting; Second, most LED lighting companies are going after the home market, while we have an industrial and commercial focus; Third, Albeo has designed a flexible system so that it is very easy for us to customize. We can deliver the "exact solution" to our clients. We focus on meeting the specific tradeoff of energy, light, and cost that the client needs.
Our initial strategy was to focus on small niche markets (such as kitchen under-cabinet lighting and case lighting for jewelry stores) which had little significant competition, and where we had access to early adopters. One pivotal strategic move was to shift to larger high bay fixtures in big spaces - commercial and industrial applications. These folks really disliked florescent lighting and were actively interested in finding an alternative.
Did the current recession have an impact on your growth?
Following the 2008 construction slowdown, many of our prospective customers grew risk averse. Albeo grew at a slightly slower rate. What saved us was the diversity of our channels. Instead of initially choosing one channel, Albeo's strategy had been to explore several channels. During the construction downturn, we focused on the direct channel rather than the A& D spec channel which carried us through 2010.
You've had some very big customer wins over the last year.
LED lighting is getting closer to a tipping point which is providing access to larger jobs. We just completed a very large installation at a Caterpillar manufacturing facility in Indiana and we were awarded the contract for lighting for the 8th largest data center in the world in North Carolina.
You attribute much of Albeo's success to your team and the culture.
We have a team that is familiar with the needs of working with large customers- selling, delivering, and servicing "referenceable and leverageable" large enterprise customers. We also have a bias for action. This means quick decision-making, a willingness to get things done quickly, to get customer exactly what they need so that we can take advantage of the window of opportunity.
What are the keys to continued growth over the next 5-10 years?
We have benefitted from the green momentum which has fostered the drive for sustainability and profitability in large companies. There are two areas critical to our continued success: The first is further channel development. Albeo needs to broaden the recognition as both a brand and as a solution provider. We will continue to showcase our large accounts. We have an accelerated use of PR so that we get higher Google ratings in searches; the second is to continue product technology development. If we were to use a mobile phone analogy, the LED industry is in the large "brick phone" stage. We're about to enter the smartphone phase. We just closed our first order for a wireless Zigbee enabled intelligent lighting fixture, with motion sensors, which monitors energy consumption, and provides real time information for the facility manager. How this intelligent fixture will evolve in the future is still to be determined.