Mark Needham

23rd August 2019

Global group Gallant Lighting has recently formed Harvard Power Systems Limited following the purchase of IP and related assets of Harvard Technology Limited. arc spoke to Harvard’s new Managing Director Mark Needham about the deal and what the future holds for the company.

Explain your journey of how you got to your position as Managing Director of Harvard Power Systems?

Like many in this industry, lighting was never a burning ambition. Out of IT and Electronics college, eager to be employed, I got a position as an office junior in the technical office of W.J. Parry, a wire-wound ballast manufacturer based near the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border. It was simply the first job offer and was grasped with both hands. Lighting quickly became the major interest, passion and the route of career progression. The Parry ballast business was acquired by a USA corporate who also owned the Venture lamps business. As Parry became Venture Lighting, a role in the commercial side of the business became the focus and there began the direct involvement in lighting component sales. Lighting technologies evolved, as did the focus and target, from HID ballasts, ignitors and lamps, through electronic control gear and controls, to today’s LED technology power supplies, drivers and light-sources. In more recent years I held the position of Sales Director for Venture Lighting Europe and Vice President EMEA for Fulham Company Lighting. Following discussions with Gallant Lighting and the previous close working relationship from roles within the Venture Lighting business, earlier this year I was appointed as Managing Director to head the newly formed Harvard Power Systems business.

How did the Gallant Lighting Group acquisition of Harvard Technology come about?

Aligned to a larger global deal, Gallant Lighting also acquired the complete Venture Lighting India group of factories and test facilities. The purchase of the IP and related assets of the former Harvard Technology business allows the continuation of the respected Harvard branded, high quality LED drivers and light engines whilst benefiting from the highly capable and well established low cost manufacturing facilities in India. 

Can you shed some light on the problems that Harvard Technology suffered?

Not being involved with, or connected to the now closed Harvard Technology business, it would be incorrect to make an unqualified comment or judgement. However, there is no hiding away from the issues that face all businesses in the lighting industry today; low cost imports and price erosion along with marketplace & overall economic uncertainty to name just a few.

Solid state and digital technology creates a wide diversity of product requirements for lighting components such as LED drivers and LED light sources along with lighting control/monitoring systems and devices.

Maintaining such large product portfolios to expertly service all areas of these requirements is incredibly costly. 

How will being part of Gallant Lighting Group benefit Harvard Power Systems?

Above and beyond the benefit of low cost manufacturing, the Venture Lighting India group of factories and test facilities bring a number of sales opportunities to the wider global markets. The Indian factories, now within the Gallant Lighting group of companies, each have notable proven histories producing high quality components and systems, 100% focused and dedicated to lighting. This vast experience forms a great synergy with the retained design and engineering skillset of Harvard to stand well within this tough marketplace.

Will there be a new strategy with Harvard Power Systems moving forward?

The strategy moving forward is to remain focused on what the business is good at: providing high quality, specification-rich lighting components, from our UK sales, technical and distribution base.

The whole IOT, connectivity, communication, monitoring and control business is becoming a fundamental requirement of all that is lighting. Strategic partnerships with the leading providers in this arena, the experts and those who are equally good at what they do, will also feature in our plans.

Do you have new product development planned or are you concentrating on existing products?

There is a healthy mix of existing products retained, legacy products withdrawn and of course new products in development. The group of senior engineers retained from the former Harvard Technology business are now supported in the Harvard Power Systems business by a wealth of experienced and highly educated design and development engineers and technicians throughout the Venture Lighting India group. There are already a number of exciting projects in the pipeline.

What does the future hold for the lighting industry?

Significant change brought about by solid state and digital technologies has completely reshaped the lighting industry to such an extent that light bulbs, tubes and lamps quickly became the legacy, whilst ‘fit & forget’ light fittings became the norm and the expected.

Energy saving and light efficiency remain at the forefront whilst the demand for best light quality, connectivity, control and monitoring as well as human centric lighting, such as automated colour tuning, will become more widely specified. Integration with other building services such as HVAC, safety, security and interoperability with such building management systems is the natural evolution in lighting.