Call it an experiment.
That's how Ian MacNaughton, HRM manager for Liteco, describes the company's new Innovation Idea Gallery, located next door to its current Raddall Avenue location.
The Innovation Idea Gallery is designed to showcase the latest leading edge electrical products - everything from LED lights to building-wide control systems to alternative electrical heating systems.
"It's an experiment because it's unlike anything else available in this market," MacNaughton says. "This space allows us to market ourselves as someone who is knowledgeable about innovation and design, and it provides authenticity to our commitment to do just that."
The gallery is something MacNaughton has been trying to get off the ground for almost 12 years after seeing similar spaces in Montreal. He says he finally has the right combination of a supportive employer and staff to make the idea work.
The right staff arrived in October 2010 in the person of Chuck Kline, managing consultant for the Innovation Idea Gallery. Kline says he believes the gallery allows him to target designers, architects and developers that previously wouldn't have become involved with an electrical supplier, leaving that role to their contractors and/or clients.
"The Innovation Idea Gallery is an appointment-based space where I can sit down with clients and show them the complete range of electrical products available for their projects, things they may not have even known were available before," Kline says. "It also allows me to learn what their needs are and maybe suggest custom-made solutions that better fit their needs."
As an example, Kline cites the case of a couple looking for pot lighting for their new dream home. Due to the sloping angle of their ceiling, the couple was having a tough time finding pot lights that would cast light on their walls at the correct angles. Kline worked with one of the gallery's suppliers to design a custom-made pot light to meet their exact specifications.
"This space allows us to bring the right experts in the marketplace together with the right customers to ensure we think of all the electrical needs that might go into a project," MacNaughton says. "It's a unique approach to marketing these kinds of products."
Walking into the Innovation Idea Gallery is nothing like your local lighting store or hardware centre. The space was designed by local interior design firm Design 360 and is as attractive as walking into someone's home. In fact, the central meeting space - with its subdued lighting, video screens and shelving - feels almost exactly like sitting in a posh living room. This space is then surrounded by subtle displays of various different lighting, heating and control systems. There's even a one-of-a-kind bathroom that showcases electrical innovations for that part of the home as well.
"This space allows us to actually show what an innovative product can do," MacNaughton says. "Customers can see it, touch it and use it, instead of having to watch a video or leaf through a catalogue."