Today, we as a community mourn the loss of one of our industry’s great innovators and visionaries. With the passing of Dr. Joel Spira, it seems like a little bit of light has left us. Fitting, as he was the architect of an entire segment of our industry, he created the solid state dimmer in the early 60’s, and from that humble apartment in Manhattan, he seemingly created the entire lighting control industry.
Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to personally meet Dr. Spira. But there were times I was in the building with him and once was in the same room as he encouraged a group of dealers to “spread the light.” Yet over the years, it has felt like I’ve known him personally.
Through all the stories and tales of high pressure meetings, I’ve always felt like we were close. Maybe it was the way that he, and by extension Lutron, always seemed more concerned with the customer experience than the technology itself. He always wanted his customers to enjoy interacting with his products to the point that they forget about the magnitude of technology they contained.
When the company began investigating shading, it was because Dr. Spira felt you could never provide complete control over their lighting without controlling the brightest luminary in the solar system—the sun. He told his engineers to find a way to control sun, and when told that the costs to develop shading products to his specifications were too large, he personally wrote a check to fund development.
In an industry where technology is always at the forefront and new technologies come and go just like the seasons, Dr. Spira was a visionary who always placed a value on his customers’ interactions over that of his products’ technology. As someone who is both a dealer and a customer who uses my Lutron lighting control system every day, I greatly appreciate his drive to focus on us. Ever since I’ve been connected with Lutron, I’ve always felt like part of the family. So today, as I look back, it’s like I’ve lost one of my own. Spread the Light!
Matt D. Scott is the President of OMEGA Audio Video.