Rocky Lauer’s first introduction to LED technology didn’t leave the best impression. While attending a national conference for facility managers nearly a decade ago, he sat in on a session about LEDs. The instructor warned the hundreds of members of the audience about this new wave of lighting, urging them to turn to one of the big brand names on the market if they had to convert.
Years later, Lauer found himself as the facility manager for Acxiom, a data, technology and services provider based out of Arkansas. As an innovative and tech-driven company, Acxiom frequently finds itself competing with global giants such as Google or Oracle for talent, and it became apparent that it needed to upgrade its office space to reflect its status. To find a solution that would upgrade the variety of spaces present at Acxiom, Lauer teamed up with Fred Rowlan at Curtis Stout. With Lauer’s background in facilities—which spans everything from HVAC, electrical, general contracting and more—and Rowlan’s extensive knowledge of lighting and design, the duo was more than capable of handling renovations, upgrades and new construction across Acxiom’s spaces.
Finding the Right Lighting Partner
Lauer knew the market for interior lighting was moving toward LEDs. That, coupled with leadership’s desire for a high-tech, updated campus, cemented the decision to move forward with LED upgrades throughout Acxiom’s office spaces. It was then that he needed to make the decision about who would provide the lighting, and he remembered the message from the facility managers conference years before.
“I picked Current and Grainger because I have somebody who I knew was big enough that, if I had problems, they were going to hold somebody’s feet to the fire,” he said. “We trusted the big name.” He also trusted that both companies would be around to see through the warranty and take care of any issues before, during and after the installation.
Rowlan similarly wanted to make sure both Curtis Stout and Acxiom were in good hands. “As a lighting agent, it’s hard for me to sell a product where the company says they have a five-year or ten-year warranty, and they’ve been in business for less than two years. Current has been around and will continue to be around,” he explained. “Rocky wanted to deal with somebody who takes care of their problems and will be there if something does happen.”
“I’m all about relationships,” Lauer said. “I think you build good relationships. It’s not always about price; it’s about the relationship and the serviceability you get.”
Solutions for Every Space
With the partners selected, Acxiom slowly but surely replaced outdated lighting fixtures throughout its facility to state-of-the-art LEDs. Some of the work was one-for-one replacements of existing office space, while other projects revolved around renovations.
The first LED upgrade occurred at a parking deck in downtown Little Rock. The old mercury vapor lights were close to 30 years old, and the team was frequently dealing with problems or change outs. It was the ideal space to begin testing LEDs. And while Acxiom didn’t see immediate energy savings from approximately 150 canopy fixtures that were updated, this was a source of major maintenance savings.
The next phase kicked off in 2016, when Acxiom began remodeling its office space. Projects covered traditional spaces such as private offices, meeting areas, kitchens and open office floors, as well as some of the company’s more unique rooms: a large dining hall for workers, recreational areas and even a movie theater.
In total, Acxiom has spent more than $600,000 to upgrade interior and exterior lighting across its facilities. Much of the budget was allocated toward the installation of LAL Series, which is designed to integrate into existing ceiling systems or drywall ceilings for linear lighting. There were traditional office lighting products such as the SS Series and LEL Series suspended luminaires, recessed fixtures included LET, LVT and LPL, as well as more unique options like LRX downlights and the EP Circular series. The EP Circular LEDs are aesthetically pleasing round lights, which provided a modern twist to the office setting. Outdoor solutions were also converted to include EAL area lighting and EWS wall packs.
For a business that is as tech-focused on Acxiom, it’s difficult to measure the exact impact of LEDs. Lauer said that the lighting bills have gone down, but there may be causes on the business side influencing that as well as the new fixtures. However, he did note that the maintenance savings is obvious.
“The maintenance, especially on our streetlights, is 100% there,” Lauer explained. “We have not had a problem. It seems to me like if we didn’t have a problem within the first two or three months, we haven’t had to touch them.”
Since the LEDs have worked so well, Acxiom is also exploring the possibility of adding Daintree controls and sensors throughout the office space. Some of this stems from the employee response to the new lights—with a diverse workforce functioning in the office, there is a need for customizable light levels in different workspaces. There are also areas of the facility with lots of windows that are ideal for daylight harvesting once controls are in place.
Lauer had a few words of advice for anyone looking to launch an LED upgrade.
“My biggest advice is to make sure you have a really good relationship with whomever your rep is, and you know that they’re going to take care of you,” he said. “If you do have issues, you need to make sure you have someone who is going to help you work through that.”
His sentiment is echoed by Rowlan. “I’ve been doing this for almost 45 years now, and through that experience I think I have gained some insight into what the end customer needs, and I try to respond as needed and take care of the customer. Treat them like you want to be treated, and 95% of the time that will take care of the problem.”
Watch the video below to hear Rocky Lauer highlight the new lighting around Acxiom's campus.
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