May 14, 2019
Go With LED is North America’s leading supplier of LED fixtures to the grocery, retail, and commercial industries. In doing so they pride themselves on contributing to a more sustainable and profitable world and operating ethically and transparently. To gain some insight into the company and their perspective on the industry, Lighting Design & Specification tabled a few questions with Senior Sales Manager Jason Park.
Jason began with Go With LED in 2013, coming from a background of sales, selling food equipment across multiple areas of the industry. “Basically, I sold over 100,000 different types of equipment or refrigeration,” he told LDS. This, coupled with a fast paced working environment, afforded Park the requisite experience to help grow and establish Go With LED as a premier LED fixture supplier. Park explained that despite significant success in his past role, he had grown tired of the fast-paced nature of the job and looked for a change. “I needed a career change where I had the freedom to decide my own path,” he explained.
Go With LED was founded in 2012 by Ray Okonawski. A mutual friend of Jason and Okonanwski brought the two of them together in 2013, thinking it would be a great fit for them both. And with their success that seems to be the case. Although, Park said, building up the business was a challenge.
“We started very slow and it was very hard for the first few years,” he said. “We slowly built our team and customer base and with great service, quality and price.”
Go With LED has 13 employees, 5 of which are working in sales. And all very busy.
“Our guys take pride in the work they do and quite frankly, they enjoy it because they have a lot of freedom in this business to set their own work schedules. We all come from sales and sales related background.”
Each is also experienced in their craft, which has contributed to Go With LED’s success. However, Park made sure to point out that their success can be traced back to hard work and long hours. And as Park explained, they are able to give their sales team the freedom to apply their expertise as they see fit given their experienced sales acumen.
Jason discusses below some of Go With LED’s successes, their challenges, and even how LED lighting can contribute to an increase in sales. As he explains, utilizing the correct wattages and various LED technologies makes products more appealing by bringing out the natural colours and textures of fruits, vegetables, meat, as well as clothing. Park also pointed out a challenge that may lie ahead for Go With LED, as well as the industry in general: the scaling back of government incentive rebate programs that encourage businesses to retrofit their lighting because of the resulting energy efficiency and benefits to the environment. This will have implications throughout the industry, affecting everyone from OEMs, engineers and companies like Go With LED, to contractors and end-users.
How has your business evolved since its inception? Has any new technology or industry advancements altered the way you do business?
We certainly have grown. Our office/warehouse moved three times in the last six years due to growth and we needed more space to house the products. When we first started, we only had an idea and with those ideas we implemented them. With hard work, long hours and many mistakes we started to create the contacts we needed with our customers to grow this business.
New technology has made it better for the industry. Customers now have more choice and in turn the company and the sales force have to adapt and learn the new technologies to relay the information to the customer, so they make a sound decision.
Your website says that your lighting saves on energy and maintenance, which is understandable, but how does it increase sales?
Lighting increases sales in a few different ways.
1. High spectrum LED lights mainly used in the supermarket refrigeration cases, such as the meat case and the open produce/fruit cases, we call the silent salesman. This special light enhances all the colours of meat and vegetables, it brings out the white marbling on meat (works for poultry, pork, beef, etc.), and looks fresher. Even the fruit and vegetables have a fresher look with all lush colours being enhanced to look more vibrant. Every Loblaws and Fortino’s meat cases and open vegetable cases have our Hi Spectrum LED lights along with many other supermarkets, such as some of the Foodlands, No Frills, Nature’s Emporium, Metro, and many other smaller chain supermarkets.
2. Also, there is a high CRI light called the GAI track lights/Gama Area Index light that enhances the colour of many products in the retail industry, such as clothing/shoe stores, supermarkets and any other retail type of stores. It’s because these GAI lights enhances the colour of their product/merchandise and gives a slight advantage to these stores from their competitors not using them.
3. Retail companies that use special enhancing lights to sell their product have an advantage against competitors that do not, because it shows cases differently from all the other standard lighting. Please note that these LED lights are used for special products. As an example, if a company was installing lights in the bakery area, we would want to use a warmer colour such as 3000K-35000K, giving warmth to the baked product. If the colour temperature was 5000K, then the baked goods would lose their warm colour and look more greyish.
4. All-LED increases sales at the end to the customers because it allows them to save the cost of current kilowatt usage and use this money to bring in more product or manpower.
What has contributed to your success in becoming North America’s leading LED fixture supplier to the grocery/retail/commercial industries?
Truthfully, a lot of hard work and long hours. We also worked with the highest integrity and professionalism on our product and services. We really cared about what the customers’ thoughts and ideas were, and we listened to what the customers needed and worked with them to be part of their team. Instead of just being a sales guy, we were part of their trusted “Power Team.”
Tell us about a project that you found particularly interesting, unique, or rewarding.
We retrofitted a large Catholic Church in the GTA, two years ago.
The main scope of the work was large. The main sanctuary was 60′ high, and we also added GAI track lights to their mural and painting of Jesus. Along with lighting up their stained glass window for all to view from Yonge Street.
The interesting part was that this project was intended to be two weeks, but the church only gave us three and a half days to complete. We finished in three days for their Grand 65th Anniversary. The Archbishop of Canada and the Cardinal came to this celebration.
It was a great feeling to get all finished on time.
What are some of the challenges Go With LED faces on a day-to-day basis in providing quality LED solutions?
Not just Go With LED, but any sales driven company is always looking for new customers and this is the hardest part on a day-to-day basis. Most of our customers do not need our service once we have finished retrofitting them for many years, so we are constantly looking for new customers.
What’s next for Go With LED?
Go With LED is the sales force for a manufacturing company called Fudakin. Fudakin not only manufacturers LEDs, but they are the company making all the snowboards and binding for Burton Snowboards, which has 70% of the world market for snowboards.
Having a manufacturer like Fudakin backing Go With LED gives us a chance to build our business not only in the retrofit area but to produce and manufacture for the refrigeration case manufacturers.
What question did I not ask? Is there anything else with respect to your company, the lighting industry, or LED/green energy you would like to share with our readers?
The LED lighting industry has grown very large in the past 10 years due to government incentive rebate programs that have been around since 2010. These rebates can be up to 50% of the total project of the retrofit, which is very important to the customers to get back due to the high cost of LED in commercial lighting.
The rebate program not only helps the many sales people and their customers, but it employs thousands of others in this industry such as engineers, utility CDM (Conservation and Demand Management) reps, all staff members of utility companies, employees in the Save-on-Energy program, IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator), employees, shipping companies, manufacturers, etc.
The reason why I bring up all the other related industry workers is that [Ontario’s] IESO Incentive Rebate is being drastically reduced and the rumour is that there may not be any more funding left for the incentive rebate. This means many thousands of people will be out of work due to the current government policy changes.
The incentive rebate is vital to the retrofit program and if the rebate is gone, it will be much harder to continue as a company. The LED business is already highly competitive, and there just won’t be enough customers wanting to retrofit with just electrical savings alone.
Blake Marchand is Assistant Editor, Panel Builder & Systems Integrator
Go with LED customer Yummy Market received a $43,985 rebate from PowerStream after an LED retrofit.