We recently caught up with Danielle Knapen, Sales Manager for our French Distributor Opti-Light to discuss the future of the French EX Market and expected changes across the industry.
Please can you tell us about your role at Opti-Light and how long you have been with the company?
On May 14th, 2018, I will have been with Opti-Light France for 4 years. I started in an administrative role, however I now coordinate sales and marketing for France and the French speaking countries in Africa.
How has the French market for EX Equipment changed over the last 5 years?
OptiLight specializes in workplace lighting, both ATEX and industrial (construction, maintenance, …). For our company, the EX buyers in France are mainly situated in the petroleum and petrochemical businesses. We also have customers in the chemical, agricultural and food sectors. The aero naval sector and related companies, have been also of great importance to our company.
As we all know, the petroleum sector has gone through rough times over the last few years and unfortunately the first items companies would choose to save on, were lights and tools. Optilight had to cope with this situation in the last few years.
Fortunately, things are now picking up and we have noticed, to our great joy, both a renewed, modern attitude with regards to the lighting of the workplace. We increasingly see the willingness of our customers to gradually switch to less conventional lighting methods and making the radical choice to switch to rechargeable products. In this way, the user chooses for their own convenience and security and most certainly for working in a simpler and cheaper way. Simpler because the tools are reduced to the minimum whilst the efficiency of lighting is improved. Cheaper, not only because the installation can be done by the user but also because the transformers, reels, distribution boxes, extension cords, etc are no longer required.
With regards to today’s situation, we can conclude that many of our customers opt for a friendly transition in which both solutions are combined. Undoubtedly, this would be the best choice.
What made you want to become a distributor for SA Equip?
SA Equip is a new player in the French EX market with fresh ideas that we can strongly adhere to. SA Equip have perfectly integrated existing and user-approved technologies into their concepts. Yet the products receive an extra touch of improvements. This partnership allows us to go to the market with a complete program: floodlights, tube lights, transformers, extension cables, splitter boxes, etc. We can meet every requirement of our customers.
We were attracted to the new technologies that SA Equip have developed, such as the rechargeable floodlight. SA Equip have redesigned the use of floodlights in a very inventive way. In combination with the reviving markets in France, our cooperation with SA Equip created an excellent basis for building towards a brighter future. OptiLight therefore invests fully in this partnership.
What major breakthroughs do you envision for the French EX Market?
France is now going through a period of revival after very dark years, certainly in the industrial sector, and more specifically in the petrochemical sector. We have to admit that many wounds are still being healed. For Optilight France, who in the meantime found the opportunity to re-evaluate marketing possibilities and drastically make a choice for new technologies, this situation has and had its advantages. We are ready for the future. A future in which handy lighting materials will certainly conquer a new importance in the hazardous work place. Therefore, we foresee an important leap in the volume of rechargeable equipment across the market within a fairly short period of time.
Why is collaboration important to Opti-lights continued success?
Since I have worked at Optilight, our specific business objective has suffered from the economic downturn of the petroleum sector. Optilight has not only aimed at this sector, but it represents undoubtedly the major part of our turnover. It was therefore necessary to look for, and to put in place, a new earning model. “Diversify more,” was certainly the message, but also setting up a new sales model in order to be ready for a larger market. Our team succeeds well now in doing that. I cannot say that this is only my greatest achievement, it is an achievement that has been reached by our team. A team that is highly motivated to continue its efforts.
Why is offering the highest quality of safety critical equipment vital to Opti-Light’s strategy?
The ATEX standard is originally and naturally European. No other than European manufacturers can offer a full answer to the security and safety that the local and modern industries need. Hence our choice to work only with Middle European solutions, not always the cheapest, but by far the most reliable. This is what counts for every company that wants to provide fully-fledged resources for its employees. After all, it should be their safety that comes first, and we see it as our duty to offer only high-quality material.