Business News

CEO Q&A: John Keohane, Verde LED

By Business & Finance
20 December 2017
John Keohane, CEO, Verde LED (Photo: Gerard McCarthy)

John Keohane is CEO of Verde LED, one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of LED lighting in Europe.

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
My main priority is to manage the company’s strategy to ensure an eye is always kept on the big picture.

Our three main goals as a company are:

  1. Consistently deliver real value to our customers and their business.
  2. To ensure our team is working in the best environment possible and have the opportunity to achieve its full potential.
  3. To consistently grow the business, which enables us to take care of 1 and 2!

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?
We like to empower staff to make their own decisions and have the power to make a difference to the company by implementing their ideas for improvement.

We have a fully company-funded sports and social club which allows everybody to socialise and do things outside of work that they might not ordinarily get the opportunity to, such as zip-lining, deep-sea excursions, cooking classes, games nights, etc. It is important to show staff they are appreciated, and sometimes just a simple thank you for a job well done goes a long way to keeping people motivated.

Q. What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?
Due to the longevity of LED, the old frequent replacement market has been eliminated to some extent. This old recurring revenue will need to be replaced with smart lighting solutions.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?
Li-fi seems to be one to keep an eye on. This is the ability to use lights as a data distributor. In my view the most useful application for this technology will be for retailers to pinpoint offers to customers in store through their phones by knowing exactly where the shopper is.

Q. As an employer are you finding any skills gaps in the market?
It’s quite difficult to come across lighting designers or lighting engineers in Ireland due to the fact we don’t have a strong history of producing luminaires domestically on a large scale.

Having a balanced life, surrounded by great people. I would have been guilty of working too much in the early years, but it’s a tough one because, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts for success.

Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?
As an Irish exporter, our biggest fear would be that punitive import tariffs would be implemented, making us less competitive. We can’t do anything about it so there is no point in worrying about the uncontrollable.

Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
Having a balanced life, surrounded by great people. I would have been guilty of working too much in the early years, but it’s a tough one because, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts for success.

The primary motivating factor has changed throughout the company’s journey. At the beginning I was driven to prove our business model would work. Once we got through the first couple of years of proving we had a successful business model, the focus shifted to becoming the industry leader in Ireland, and now to becoming a major player in the overseas markets.

Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
Becoming the first Irish lighting company to achieve Carbon Trust certification in the UK has made a big impact in helping to grow the business in the UK market.

Q. What’s next for your company?
We are saving our customers over €9 million per annum at present, and within 5 years this figure will rise to over €100 million at our current growth.

To help save further energy for our clients, we are working on innovative smart lighting solutions and complementary energy-saving solutions. Our ambition is to help drive our clients to being carbon neutral.

Q. What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2018?
LED has been one of the hottest, if not the hottest energy-saving technology for companies over the last decade, with the result that many players flooded the market thinking a quick buck could be made. There have been many casualties in our industry due to lack of knowledge and expertise. This is a great opportunity for Verde LED, which is the industry leader in Ireland, and trusted partner for many of the world’s leading companies.

As the market is starting to mature, customers are looking for reliable and trustworthy partners to help them deliver their energy-saving targets.

VERDE LED, headquartered in Ireland, is a market leader and one of the largest commercial LED Lighting manufacturers and suppliers in Europe.