Dux Lighting Systems is a custom light manufacturer with two key principles – quality and service. They value reputation, consistency of product, and refuse to compromise to a market that grows steadily more saturated with foreign, mass-produced imports. Their support and encouragement of local trades and suppliers is absolute, and they are committed to the continual backing of Australian manufacturing.
First started in 1978 by Peter Wildman, Dux Lighting was founded in order to produce plastic injection molded light fittings for high-rise balconies. At the time, the Gold Coast was in the midst of an enormous building boom, and the corroding metal base fittings that were popular at the time needed to be replaced. Responding to that opportunity, Peter created the Dux Button, a completely non-corrosive luminaire for ceilings and walls – and a staple product of the company ever since.
All about consistency
Adam Wildman, the Managing Director and co-owner of Dux Lighting, has worked in the lighting industry his whole life. “When dad first started the company, even as kids we were working for it,” he recalls. “On the weekends, we were engaged to put lighting fixtures together. It was an early start for us to a long career.”
In 2004, Adam and his brother Matthew purchased Dux Lighting from their parents. As owners, they have maintained the company’s emphasis on quality and technological innovation. Today, Dux Lighting is based out of Currumbin, Queensland, and has agents around the country. Their non-corrosive lighting can be found in any state of Australia, as well as overseas.
Throughout the years, Dux Lighting has remained dedicated to being a local business. According to Adam, it is that dedication that sets them apart in the market. “Other companies predominantly import their products,” he says. “We manufacture ours locally. It’s very important with new technology that we utilize local supplies. Often new technology brings its own headaches, so local manufacturers let us work out the kinks faster and keep the jobs here.”
Due to their locality, Dux Lighting is also able to exercise strict quality control over their product. They are also able to offer speedy turnarounds, because they do not have to wait on imports. Those types are factors are key in building client loyalty, Adam says.
“It’s all about a consistency of product,” he explains. “We still make the first fitting we’ve ever made. We’ve been making it for 34 years, and in today’s world people still find it incredible. Since we’re local, we can also keep a good control over our stock levels and product quality. That leads to a consistency of supply, and thus a consistency of product.”
Keeping it local
Another way Dux Lighting stands out from the competition is with the calibre of their workforce – all of whom are considered family by Adam and his brother.
“It’s all local people,” Adam says. “We work with them directly, so as a result we get involved in a lot of interesting projects. There’s a lot of creativity that we encourage the people here to express, and as a result the finished products are something that everyone takes a lot of satisfaction away from and can be proud about.”
Adam describes the company’s relationship with their suppliers as equally strong. “We’ve got some relationships going back over 30 years,” he says. “They’re really important to us because we always give preference to Australian-made componentry. We need to keep our local industry alive, so we need to utilise local manufacturers. Once an industry dies in Australia, it’s nearly impossible to start up again, because all the suppliers die with it.”
Strong relationships, adds Adam, are also essential to keeping with modern technology – which Dux Lighting is always seeking to do. They keep their suppliers up to speed with what they need to update new lighting systems, and in turn the suppliers continue to advance and keep ahead of their own competitors. Those close relationships allow all parties to thrive, Adam says, and without one another they’d be “in quite a lot of trouble.”
The necessity of efficiency
Adam describes energy efficiency in their products as “critical” in the modern age. As greener and more efficient lighting systems are constantly created and improved, companies that produce them and their fittings must also continue to evolve.
“We’re in the middle of an economic crisis and an energy crisis,” Adam says. “I can’t go to a customer and suggest they buy a fitting that is not the latest technology in terms of energy savings, as it simply wouldn’t work any longer with modern lights.”
“It drives our whole industry forward,” he continues. “And we’re at the cutting edge of picking up new technology in LED. Light-Emitting Plasma has rapidly overtaken other sectors of lighting, so we’ve adapted all our fittings to them. Customers want the latest technology, and we want to make sure they can utilise it.”
In the short term future, Dux Lighting has some exciting projects on their slate. Their 2012 win for ‘Luminaire Design of the Year’ from the Illuminating Engineering Society “really opened a lot of doors” for them, Adam says. “That’s a big deal, that’s for all of Australia and New Zealand. On the back of that we have some really interesting projects.”
Currently, Dux Lighting is involved with the Twin Towns Services Club in Coolangatta, as well as the Cavill Mall on the Gold Coast. Next year, they are set to start work on further exciting projects, such as the redevelopment of the Perth Library.
From a product development perspective, Dux Lighting’s future is also bright. They are introducing motion sensors into their range, for example, and are also planning on incorporating advances in plastic that will make it easier to recycle.
In the longer term, Adam says that their goal will be to continue striving for constant improvement. They are always looking for new machinery and ways to improve manufacturing processes, so as to better compete with China and other mass-produced producers.
“It’s an interesting time to be in the industry,” he concludes. “We were involved in a local sculpture festival recently, in which we lit 30 sculptures over 800 metres of beach. When we sat back, we realized we were able to light this entire stretch with only 60 watts – the equivalent of a traditional light bulb. It was an impressive moment, and made us realize how far technology has come.”
“That’s an exciting feeling, because it’s only the start,” he says. “Technology will continue to evolve, and Dux Lighting will evolve along with it.”