In today’s AMN Executive Interview, we chat with Russell Stebbins, director – automotive aftermarket sales, Lumileds, Automotive Group. Stebbins has been with the company since 2014 and is responsible for the overall aftermarket sales and business development activities in the North America region. He heads up the Lumileds – Philips national, regional and e-commerce sales teams and is a member of the Lumileds Management Team. Among other topics, in the interview, Stebbins discusses the company’s new safety initiative, and explains to us the transition from the Philips name to Lumileds.
There are a number of automotive components now seen as critical safety systems – lighting being one of them. Philips is taking this to a new level. Can you give our readers some details about the company’s new safety initiative?
We have recently launched a new safety initiative aimed at our professional technician customers as well as consumers on the importance of changing headlight bulbs in pairs. Typically, motorists only replace a headlight bulb when it has burned out or is failing. This is not advisable because replacing just one failed bulb can result in an unbalanced or unpredictable headlight beam pattern and potentially present a safety risk. From the driver’s perspective, the road ahead will not be properly lit and the driver will not get the full benefit of the vehicle’s headlights as the carmaker originally intended.
Philips’ new safety initiative, “Change in pairs” is built around the overall theme: “Don’t compromise on safety, change in pairs. Two new headlamps are safer than one.” However, the idea of replacing auto parts in pairs is not a new one. Professional automotive technicians and driving safety advocates alike are constantly recommending that tires, brakes, shocks and wiper blades should be replaced in pairs to make sure the vehicle is properly balanced and functioning safely.
Lighting is no different and equally as important to driver safety. Light bulbs should be replaced when they get old because they are not as effective. The filament of any light bulb ages with use, time and exposure to the elements and, as a result, becomes fragile. This causes the light to deteriorate. At the end of their typical service life (two to three years), headlight bulbs project less light, thereby reducing visibility.
That’s why we are encouraging our professional customers to recommend the replacement of both headlight bulbs at the same time. In addition to the safety benefits, we also are promoting the convenience aspects as well. Replacing both bulbs during the same service visit saves a lot of time and trouble and avoids having to deal with the other side of the vehicle at a later date.
We also are sharing this important lighting safety education with our consumers. Whether they are DIFM or DIY, they will be able to appreciate the safety benefits of well-balanced lighting and not have to worry about the risk of the other headlight bulb going out while they are on the road.
We are also following up our safety initiative with the theme of “Safety you can see.” In addition to promoting the replacement of bulbs in pairs, we are suggesting a headlight bulb upgrade to get even better lighting performance. As you may know, lighting is still at the top of the list of underperformed vehicle services. As headlights wear out and get dim over time, drivers become accustomed to the reduced lighting and neglect to mention it to their technician when their car is being serviced. Proper lighting maintenance can create a valuable opportunity for a shop’s business and service profits while at the same time, helping to boost driver safety.
How does the company’s stance on headlight restoration (and the headlight restoration kits you offer) stand up against this safety initiative?
The Philips Headlight Restoration Kit with UV protection works very well with our safety initiative because it is critical to overall visibility after a bulb replacement. Over time, plastic headlight lenses can become cloudy and yellowed from the effects of sunlight, road pollution and weather conditions. These conditions can reduce the overall headlight output considerably, compromising nighttime vision and driving safety.
It is important for drivers to take the time to get the maximum light output from their headlights by cleaning the lenses with the Philips Headlight Restoration Kit. Although there are many kits in the market, ours is different because it features UV protection that helps prevent the return of the yellowing and cloudiness caused by the elements.
Headlight restoration is an added service that can be used by both professional service technicians and DIYers and value. The Philips Headlight Restoration Kit with UV Protection is designed to bring back the clarity of clouded or hazy plastic headlights to like-new condition in a matter of minutes. Combining the restoration of the driver’s headlamp lenses with upgrading headlight bulbs will dramatically improve their overall vision at night.
How are you getting the word out to customers/consumers about the campaign?
We are supporting our initiative with a multi-faceted marketing communication campaign that is targeting our distribution and consumer channels. We are using a strategic combination of print, digital and behavioral media outlets to promote the initiative along with an ongoing public relations and social media campaign.
We are joining with our customers to develop and implement consumer promotions and in-store merchandising. We also have a training program to educate our customers on the importance of replacing bulbs in pairs, building consumer loyalty with our brand of products and learning about the added benefits of upgrade lighting.
The “Change in pairs” initiative coupled with “Safety you can see” is also detailed in our new catalog, which features a complete glossary of lighting technology terms and phrases to help better educate both professionals and consumers.
Can you tell us about the name change from Philips Automotive Lighting to “Lumileds, LLC – A Philips Company”?
As we all know, consolidation and acquisition has been no stranger to the aftermarket over the past decade, and at Lumileds, it’s no different. The company you were familiar with as Philips Automotive Lighting is now Lumileds, LLC. It was founded by Philips to develop, manufacture and distribute groundbreaking LEDs and automotive lighting innovation throughout the automotive market.
Lumileds, LLC will continue to provide the same OE quality products, personnel and leading technology services that our customers and consumers expect and are accustomed to receiving, but with a bonus. The formidable resources of this new Philips company puts us in a much stronger position to deliver more innovation and growth, increase our speed to market, enhance our competitive position and keep a better focus on the needs of our customers.
What’s new in lighting technology? Tell us about the company’s latest lighting innovations.
We offer several exciting lighting innovations in our current aftermarket lighting portfolio. Topping the list is our Philips OEM HiPerVision Bulbs line. Until now, these OEM bulbs were only available from the OE dealer but now we are offering them for aftermarket replacement. Philips is the only OE manufacturer of the HiPerVision Bulb, which is featured on many late-model vehicles, including GM full-sized trucks and SUVs equipped with front fog lights (since 2007), Jeep vehicles with front fog lights (since 2010) and the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado. Philips HiPerVision is available for a wide range of applications, including daytime running lights, fog lights, and front and rear signal lights.
Although these bulbs have the appearance of a traditional incandescent light, Philips HiPerVision employ a proprietary lighting technology derived from cathode ray tube manufacturing. The line was introduced with Standard, Natural Amber, and the silver-coated Philips SilverVision bulb. We recently expanded the line to include a Philips CrystalVision ultra upgrade for the two most popular bulbs in the line, the 12276 and 12086FF. The Philips CrystalVision ultra bulb provides a bright, white light for a high-tech style appearance.
Next is our Philips Vision LED lighting, which is becoming very popular with car enthusiasts. Our LEDs are designed as a direct replacement for a broad range of incandescent bulbs used on brake and taillights, back up, dome and glove compartment lights, side markers, trunk and license plate lights. Our Vision LEDs employ leading-edge LED technology to create a brilliant light that’s made to last. They feature an advanced and robust design that makes them highly resistant to extreme heat and vibration.
We also offer the Philips X-tremeVision LED Fog Lamps, which are designed as a direct, easy plug-and-play replacement for H8, H11 and H16 halogen fog light bulbs on popular late-model vehicles. These new LED fog lamps deliver a bright, white 6000K light that matches perfectly with the color of Xenon and LED headlights and Philips CrystalVision ultra upgrade headlight bulbs.
What’s next after LED?
We plan to not only keep up with market trends that are shifting to LEDs, but also stay ahead of the LED technology curve with continual expansion of our LED range, additional applications, and new and exciting product introductions as they become available.