A conundrum was presented to me at Light Middle East by a European manufacturer who wants to increase their presence in the Middle East but is not ready to enter the US marketplace.
Knowing that many jobs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are specified by US Lighting Designers and that UL is a requirement for the US market, the manufacturer attempted to hire a New York-based manufacturer’s rep. But, faced resistance as their products are not UL listed.
I emailed a manufacturer’s rep in New York City, who explained that they cannot take on a line and learn it for a limited market, where they do not have any real presence. The OEM faces further challenges trying to call on the design community directly to pitch their products for the Middle East market. It is highly unlikely that a designer would even accept a meeting knowing there would be no rep involved.
A U.S. lighting designer also confirms it would be unlikely for their firm to meet with a manufacturer that did not have a U.S. rep, especially if for an overseas project. They would need some sort of breakthrough, unique product to even be considered and that designer would not specify an unproven, unknown product on the other side of the world—especially without support from a rep.
This experience underlines just how important the U.S. lighting design industry is to the Middle East!