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Executive Interview

AMN Q&A: Dave Illes, Lumileds

Dave Illes is Lumileds’ director of sales and marketing for the North American Automotive Aftermarket. In today’s Q&A, Illes talks about the importance of lighting maintenance for driver safety, as well as the secrets to strong category management in the era of parts proliferation.

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AMN Editor Amy Antenora has been reporting daily on the automotive aftermarket since 2002. She also is editor of AMN Global and serves as managing editor of Counterman magazine, AMN’s sister publication for the parts distribution segment. Prior to joining Babcox Media, Amy began her career as a newspaper reporter and went on to work in public relations for two state universities. She is a graduate of Kent State University and in 2009 earned the Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) designation from Northwood University’s University of the Aftermarket.

Dave Illes is Lumileds’ director of sales and marketing for the North American Automotive Aftermarket. He joined the company at the end of 2017 and is responsible for all sales channels and customers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Illes is a veteran of the automotive aftermarket with more than 25 years of experience in executive sales and account management.

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Prior to joining the company, he held a variety of sales management positions during his 17 years at Tenneco Inc. From 2010 to 2017, Illes was Tenneco’s director of national sales – Canada before moving to director of strategic accounts for the North American Aftermarket. He also was regional sales manager from 1999 to 2010. In between his time at Tenneco, Illes served Philips Automotive Lighting from 2009 to 2010 as its senior sales manager for the North American Automotive Aftermarket.

In today’s Q&A, Illes talks about the importance of lighting maintenance for driver safety for drivers today, as well as the secrets to strong category management in the era of parts proliferation.

AMN: Lighting maintenance is not something that is always top of mind with technicians and drivers today. We understand Lumileds is launching a new program to address this very issue. Tell us about it.

DI: Yes, as of Nov. 1, we’re launching our new Philips Lighting Specialist Program. It’s a program that rewards service pros who upgrade their customers to better forward lighting. It’s a win-win program – drivers get up to 100 percent more vision at night when they upgrade to Philips XtremeVision bulbs and technicians get VISA gift card rewards based on the number of lighting upgrades they sell. We’ve included rewards for participating WDs, and we’re providing shops with merchandising kits to help them sell their customers on the concept of improving nighttime driving safety through upgrade headlights.

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AMN: Lumileds is a leading innovator with regard to new lighting technologies such as LED. While LEDs offer a number of benefits, their application is restricted by U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Can you explain the complexities of this to our readers? 

DI: It’s true, Lumileds is a leader in OE LED headlighting for car manufacturers around the globe. And we’ve channeled that expertise into aftermarket LED headlighting products that are now available in major global markets. However, we are restricted by U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, FMVSS No. 108, which specifically states that you can only replace a filament type light source in a forward lighting application with another filament light source. That means you cannot replace a halogen bulb with an LED. So, while our new LED headlight upgrades are available in Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere around the world, we currently cannot offer them in the U.S.

AMN: Are there any benefits from Philips LED lighting advancements for American drivers?

DI: Yes, we do offer our Philips Ultinon LED line of lighting upgrades for a wide range of interior and exterior vehicle applications. These LED lights deliver brilliant, high-tech lighting in a variety of colors, so drivers can create a custom look for their vehicles. And we’re also offering our new Philips X-tremeUltinon LED Fog Lamps that are designed as direct replacement for H8, H11 and H16 halogen fog bulb applications. Philips X-tremeUltinon LEDs have a color temperature of up to 6500K that matches perfectly with Xenon and LED headlights. And they have what we call SafeBeam technology that is designed to eliminate glare for oncoming drivers.

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AMN: Given the number of lighting options available, how does Lumileds stay on top of category management?

DI: Expertise in category management is a key advantage that we bring to our channel partners. At Lumileds, we’re continually investing in upgrading our analytic and product management tools to help increase sales performance and maximize customers’ ROI. We know that we have a wide range of SKUs and that we have to help each customer determine the optimum product mix and stocking depth for their business and their customer base. Lumileds employs an ongoing, systematic approach to managing customer’s lighting lines. We also perform deep dives on all available sales data to help identify new lighting opportunities and sales trends.

AMN: Let’s talk about autonomous vehicles for a moment – what role can lighting play in the car of the future? Will any changes be required for autonomous cars?

DI: Autonomous cars are still in their infancy, and it’s difficult to say how the lighting technology will evolve. But, as a world leader in OE LED systems, Lumileds plans to be on the forefront of solutions for the autonomous driving environment. We work with our OE Tier 1 customers in the development of not only advanced lighting, but also sensing expertise driven by LEDs. For example, we are currently working on micro and nano LED technology, which works in an autonomous vehicle environment by signaling its intent to pedestrians and other non-autonomous driven vehicles (i.e. stopping, yielding the right of way, etc…), while not interfering with the aerodynamics or exterior styling of the vehicle.

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AMN: AAPEX is right around the corner. What does your company have planned for the show?

DI: We’re focusing on making our channel partners aware of the new Philips Lighting Specialist Program and the benefits it can bring to them. We truly believe lighting upgrades are a tremendous safety advantage for drivers and an excellent profit opportunity for the industry.

Most cars on the road today have headlight bulbs that are the same as those that were in cars of the 1980s. We want to leverage the Philips Lighting Specialist Program to make drivers and shops aware that there’s better lighting to be had, and that it’s an easy safety upgrade that most drivers can afford.

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