Let there be light: MET grad keeps region illuminated as Sylvania’s area account manager

RRC billboard: Jeff Laurin, Sylvania

Jeffrey Laurin is serious about making light.

An account manager for the Sylvania lighting brand, Laurin is the go-to guy for all Sylvania lighting projects in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. His duties include energy audits, lighting design, and end user and distributor training – basically everything but screwing in the light bulb.

“We don’t do the install, but we have contractors that do, so I work with contractors to get the product installed, and [on] the maintenance of it as the years go on,” says Laurin, who graduated from Red River College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program in 1996.

“I’m the local expert for anything Sylvania. For instance, if you’re a school division and you’re looking to do something with lighting in it, you generally contact me. Basically, I do everything – from the energy calculation, recommending the right product, and following it through.

“Also, there are Sylvania distributors in Winnipeg and Manitoba and Ontario that I look after. I make sure their sales teams are up to speed on what they need to know for our products. There’s day-to-day stuff too, like, ‘What do I need to fix this problem?’ or ‘What lamp do you recommend for this application?’ or ‘What’s the best new product to replace our lighting?’”

Laurin says the MET program’s wide scope – which includes such topics as design, manufacturing methods and quality assurance – prepared him for the diverse nature of his job.

“You can get into all kinds of different fields – manufacturing, design or sales,” Laurin says. “I think the program just prepares you with enough information so you feel confident. Day One at Sylvania, my electrical wasn’t up to [that of] the guys I was talking to. But with the different courses you take at Red River, you put everything together and come up with reasonable answers.”

“Plus, when you graduate from the program you’re an engineering technologist. That brings you into a level of confidence when you’re dealing with different people in the industry. They see that designation and they know you’re not just coming in off the street.”

“I think it’s good that the program is varied like that. You’re wide open. You can take your skills and apply them however you see best.”

With Sylvania, Laurin has applied his skills to projects big and small, as well as a few “mega-projects,” like the complete conversion of CF Polo Park to LED lighting.

“As you can imagine, the meter in a mall is spinning like crazy, so (Cadillac Fairview) came to me and asked what could they do,” Laurin says.

“We converted some big power-consuming lamps to LED on a custom retrofit. We took the actual fixtures down, retrofitted them with a product we manufactured and put the fixtures back up on the ceiling again. Then we took it to the parking lot. When you drive by, you can see different areas of the mall are all LED-lit now with custom fixtures from Sylvania.”

Laurin says the move to LED has made his job even busier.

“It’s huge. Everyone wants to save energy and there are all kinds of incentives from Manitoba Hydro,” he says. “I’d say lighting was a little flat, growing a little bit every year, but now it’s gone wild.”

Laurin says the MET program prepared him for the demands of his job.

“It was a lot of information and learning, and you really had to put a lot of effort into it,” he says. “We were on a new topic daily, which prepares you for how it is in the real world. You have to deal with something and then move on and start something new.”

— Profile by Jared Story (Creative Communications, 2005)