In this exclusive AMN Executive Interview, Eric Hatty talks to AMN Editor Amy Antenora about his goals for Lumileds as he settles into his new role as regional vice president and general manager (GM) for the North American Automotive segment. Hatty gives us his insights on his goals for the business and the biggest challenges ahead.
You joined Lumileds as regional vice president and general manager for the North American Automotive business unit just about one year ago from STMicroelectronics. Coming from an automotive/technology background, what do you see as the biggest opportunities and biggest challenges that the automotive aftermarket will face over the next few years?
Hatty: There is a new paradigm in the automotive aftermarket, and it affects a few key areas that offer both challenges and opportunities. First of all, we have the transition from the traditional lamps business to the rapid adoption of LED technology. Second is the ever-expanding e-Commerce channel, which is clearly driving an evolution in the way products are marketed and sold in traditional brick and mortar outlets. And finally, we continue to see consolidation in the industry, particularly in the commercial and wholesale distribution segments.
Our company is in an excellent position to address these challenges and grow with the opportunities. Lumileds has more than 100 years of experience on the traditional side of the business and an industry leadership position in the development of high-performance LED technology. This allows us to collaborate with our customers and partners to push, so to speak, the boundaries of light. As all of these market changes transpire, we will be there to help make our trusted distributor and retail partners as successful as possible, while delivering the lighting technology that our automotive consumers need to enjoy a safer and better driving experience.
Now that you’ve settled into your new role, what are your goals for this position and for Lumileds?
Hatty: The goal is clear for our North America business. We want to leverage our position as the global leader in lighting to benefit our customers in all channels of our business, and we have to continue to excel in these areas. This can only be possible if we continue to drive innovation and create meaningful products that automotive consumers want to buy and deliver the level of quality and product support that our marketing partners expect from us.
Lumileds officially began operating as an independent company in July. What changes can we now expect from the business?
Hatty: Our partners and customers will see the results and benefits from significant advances that will come with Lumileds being an independent entity. Lumileds is free to focus on the development of future lighting and we will continue to expand our portfolio of state-of-the-art LEDs and automotive lighting solutions for the benefit of the automotive OEM and aftermarket, as well as a wide variety of high tech businesses. Lumileds will continue to shape the future of sustainable illumination by leveraging its expertise, scale and global footprint.
Will the company continue with the same mission it had as part of Royal Philips, or will that evolve? If so, how?
Hatty: Yes, we will continue with our mission and use our broad capabilities and experience in the lighting industry to introduce innovative products and combine technical advances with a genuine concern for safety and driving comfort. Lumileds is a global lighting solutions company and the exclusive provider of Philips-branded Automotive Lighting products for the aftermarket. So, while we can supply our OEM channels with the lighting they need for the vehicles they are building tomorrow, we are uniquely positioned to give our aftermarket customers the Philips premium upgrade halogens, HIDs, LEDs and OE replacement lighting they need for the cars they’re driving today.
AAPEX 2017 is just around the corner. Many suppliers use this as an opportunity to reveal new innovations and initiatives. What does Lumileds have in store for the show this year?
Hatty: We look forward to AAPEX every year and showcasing our newest innovations and initiatives. This year we will introduce our Philips Ultinon LED Lighting line and an aggressive fraud prevention program.
With Philips Ultinon, we’re taking the OE trend of LEDs into the aftermarket by expanding on our range of LEDs and launching a new full line of 55 SKUs. Philips Ultinon is a new and advanced generation of automotive LED lighting designed for a wide range of interior and exterior vehicle applications. These revolutionary LED lights are built to deliver brilliant, high-tech lighting in a variety of colors so that drivers can easily see and be seen. They are direct replacements for conventional bulbs in stoplights, turn signal lights, backup lights, taillights, position lights, hazard lights, trunk lights, glove compartment lights and interior floor lights.
Another equally important initiative is our commitment to fend off counterfeiting. We’re seeing more and more fake automotive products being distributed and sold offline and online. This can be detrimental to our retail partners and our consumers. And, we take that very seriously! We want to increase the awareness and stress the importance of authentic products, especially with Xenon HID lighting. We are the innovator and manufacturer of this technology and Xenon HID has been the most copied technology within the automotive replacement lighting market.
Although we have successfully shut down some of these counterfeiters, the production and distribution of fake lamps in the North America market continues. So, we have created and launched the Philips Fraud Prevention Program to help protect customers against Xenon HID lamp piracy. This program incorporates a multi-faceted B2B-B2C approach built around the theme of “Is it Real? Check the Seal” that lets our customers in all distribution channels quickly and easily establish the authenticity of a Philips product and avoid counterfeits. The program features a Philips Certificate of Authenticity (COA), a special QR code that allows customers to verify the authenticity of their Philips product, as well as an innovative use of labeling to prevent tampering with both the actual product package and the outside shipping carton.
We also are spreading the word about our initiative to all of our distribution channels through advertising, public relations, websites and social media, as well as through POP and key communications with our marketing partners. So far we are seeing favorable results and are very hopefully that we can successfully combat this criminal activity on behalf of our loyal customers.