February 6, 2017
A few months ago, we introduced you to Flux Lighting — a lighting agency located in Ottawa, serving Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. During our meeting with the company, we were introduced to Mara Klammrodt, partner and VP Sales & Marketing at Flux.
LDS took the opportunity to speak with Mara about her time in the lighting industry and the opportunities and challenges she has faced along her journey to partner at Flux.
A concentrated career
Working in the lighting industry has been the only career Mara has ever had. She entered into the business in a role with a manufacturing company, where her primary responsibilities included customer service and quotations. But what began as her first job turned into a 4-year position that propelled her into the lighting industry.
Mara has been with Flux for almost 7 years, and cites becoming partner in 2013 as one of her biggest achievements. She works alongside Jeff Fitch and Dan Emond as a team of three. “Three is a good number. We all bring different strengths to the table, and majority rules. It works very well,” Mara comments.
As VP Sales & Marketing, she is responsible for managing the relationships with architects, designers, and all future clients. She also oversees business development, customer acquisition and retention.
When asked what it was about the industry that drew her in, Mara notes the perfect combination of design and technology. For her, the industry was feeding all of her interests, and she recalls knowing after the first few of months in the industry that this was where should be. And, after almost two decades in the business, she is still excited about work each day.
A passion for lighting and a flair for design
What excites Mara the most about the lighting industry is how quickly things can change, and how quickly people can adapt to these changes. Over the past years, the team at Flux has seen many shifts in the lighting landscape, but most notably is the integration of more decorative lighting within their commercial projects.
Mara sees this as a major trend within the lighting industry as companies look to create more of a residential feel in their offices. Clients are looking towards technical considerations such as colour temperature, tuning, and lumens because of their link to greater workplace productivity and aesthetically pleasing nature. A lot of contractors are also starting to work more closely with interior designers and are gathering influence from Europe as they put together their plans.
However, Mara’s clients aren’t the only ones who are investing in lighting. Mara herself decided to completely re-do the lighting in her own home, leveraging the knowledge she has gained from her work with incredible designers, architects, and contractors. It speaks to her passion for the industry — taking on all the research and design herself — and how proud she is of the finished result. She discusses in particular a beautiful pendant light that hangs in her entrance as one of her favourite features.
Mara considers herself extremely fortunate for her unique and diverse client base, which allows her to collaborate on a variety of amazing projects. For her, Jeff, and Dan — who are in love with the industry and passionate about results — nothing is more exciting than going to a job site and seeing how incredible their client’s products look in the space and how the whole project has come together.
It is that contented feeling that Mara says is an indicator of success. To her, being successful is akin to being happy. It’s about loving your job and being passionate about what you do each day; for her, she is proud knowing that she is helping other people do their job well.
When asked for the main lesson she has taken away from her success over the past years, patience is the first thing that came to mind. It’s about “learning to be patient and to not jump into anything too hastily. [You have] to take into account everything, and think long term.” For her, when she decided to join the team at Flux, the transition didn’t happen overnight. It took time and a series of meetings before she was sure that her goals and vision aligned with those of Jeff, Dan and the entire organization.
The importance of education and mentorship
Outside of work, Mara volunteers with Junior Achievers Canada, which sponsors professionals who go into Grade 5/6 classrooms and talk to students about business and entrepreneurship. She feels passionate about inspiring young kids and getting them excited about coming up with new ideas.
Volunteers begin the sessions by teaching the students about entrepreneurial skills, relating them back to school life and then inviting them to come up with a business plan to present to the class.
During her talks Mara speaks about the qualities that are important for an entrepreneur: to be driven, goal-oriented, and passionate about what you’re selling.
Her main message to these young kids: “You are the person who is going to drive your own success.” A philosophy that she applies to herself.
As a young woman in this business she has paved the way for others to follow and championed her own success. When asked about any challenges she has faced as a result of her gender, Mara answers eloquently and discusses how it is similar to the notion above about how quickly people can adapt. Although when she began her career she was only one of few female sales reps, and it was not “the norm,” she kept her head down, became an expert in her field, and in turn was able to succeed and get to where she is today.
Julie Kerr is Associate Editor// Content Strategist for Kerrwil Publications.