The Edwin Sargeant Interview
CEO of Xero Linear Lighting

Edwin Sargeant successfully ran Austube, one of the industry’s most progressive linear lighting manufacturers. For the last two years he has been cooling his heels, mostly in Arizona, USA. But now he is back in a very big way at the head of new company called XERO Linear Lighting.

Edwin hi, it’s been over two years since you left the CEO role at Austube. How did you spend the time?

I have been living in Arizona USA and traveling, relaxing and reflecting on the last 25 years in the industry. Whilst I always intended on coming back to the industry that I love, I first had some cleansing to do.

XERO Linear Lighting launched on the 4th of April. What is the philosophy behind the new company?

The philosophy is simple – to be the best linear lighting company in the world and push the boundaries on innovation. “Challenge the status quo, develop an attitude of XERO tolerance, re-imagine whats possible.”

You’ve invested heavily in patents and intellectual property?

Yes, in my previous position I developed many industry firsts that were quickly copied by competitors who do not invest in the industry or help develop the market. Intellectual property protection helps the industry by allowing the author to commercially exploit their own innovations. This assists in the creation of further innovation that benefits the whole industry by raising the standard on what is possible.

Can you highlight some of the features that distinguish your range of new products from offerings already on the market?

There are several patented innovations that we have developed:

1. Axis Gear Tray – a patented removable gear tray that includes a cam lock latch

2. Conseal end plates – a patented end plate system that conceals the diffuser expansion gap, conceals the IP gasket and conceals the light that traditionally ‘bleeds’ from around the end cap

3. Patented Speed Connect joining system that prevents light from bleeding through a join

4. Rollerball Suspension System – an innovative wire suspension system that can be mounted on any sloped surface or even a wall!

5. Xeramix LED light engines that have a 114k hour life to L90 B10

6. Our drivers are universal power 110 – 277V input and all products are UL / CE / AUS-NZS approved

All of our products can be sold in any country in the world – all factories manufacture the same products – this allows load sharing which is a major benefit for our customers

illumni understands you have revolutionised the means by which customers can order your products?

We have created an online configuration engine that allows sales partners to configure product based on a rules engine, and obtain ‘shop drawings’ and ‘factory assembly drawings’ automatically. The configuration engine integrates Pro-engineer with a back end server that creates the collateral automatically.

This same technology will be connected to our online store and a payment gateway allowing customers to configure and purchase our product online. This is a first for our market segment.

You have truly gone global with a number of manufacturing / distribution establishments located in different countries

We will launch in APAC in early April, in every state of Australia, 3 offices in NZ, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. All locations are XERO company offices. We also have manufacturing in Malaysia, the US and will open a manufacturing facility in the UK later this year. Our UK office opens late April.

How has the lighting industry reacted to the launch of XERO?

It is early days but the reaction is very positive. Especially to the X-configurator (the photometric configuration engine that allows the lighting designer to make custom product selections based on the project needs and have a custom IES file and project data sheet emailed as well as a link back to the configurator should further adjustments be needed)

There have been many positive comments about the fact that we have just started this business yet our ‘jumping off point’ is way more advanced than any other company in our market segment.

We believe you have a unique management structure that allows stakeholders to have a very active role in the way the company operates?

All regional Partner offices are independent companies that have local shareholding. This partnership model is unique in the lighting industry and has allowed XERO to commence operations in this region as the largest lighting group (by distribution footprint and numbers of offices)

What are the big issues facing the lighting industry today?

Complacency – there has been very little good product / design development from the ‘big boys’ – the industry typically cycles through consolidation and fragmentation stages and in the last year or so, we are in a fragmentation stage where entrepreneurs are fragmenting from the larger companies and creating the next crop of acquisition targets for when the cycle completes the next revolution.

Where do you see XERO three years from now?

The business plan for XERO is to continue to partner with local specification representatives who want to open their own business. In fact we will soon be looking for additional new partners in some regions. Our focus is on the Americas, Canada through our Arizona office and the UK and Europe through the UK office.

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