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February 17, 1995 - Image 99

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-02-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Day In The Life

They see

things in a
light at



he Fox Theatre in De-
troit, Pier 39 Aquari-
um in San Francisco,
Raleigh Durham International
Airport in North Carolina, Tal-
lahassee Mall in Florida and Lit-
tle Caesar's in
Prague have one el-
ement in common
— lighting design
by Illuminating
Concepts Ltd., in
Farmington Hills.
Ron Harwood,
Andy Blitz and
Ronna Jacobs also
have Illuminating
Concepts in com-
mon, but their
viewpoints spot-
light different an-
gles of the business
that has reached
an annual gross in-
come of $5 million.
Mr. Harwood, the senior de-
signer and principal who found-
ed the firm in 1981, brings the
technical expertise of his staff to
creative projects around the
world, sometimes focusing on
commercial establishments and
other times concentrating on res-
Mr. Blitz joined Illuminating
Concepts three years ago as the
full-time director of sales and
marketing. He researches po-
tential clients, tries to convince
them to use his firm's services
and still finds the energy to take
on additional part- time work,
which he considers relaxing.
Ms. Jacobs, who joined Illu-
minating Concepts as a college
intern and stayed on as a co-op
student, gained insights into her
craft and customer service styles
and then moved on to work as
an associate industrial designer
for Haworth Inc., a Holly-based
corporation specializing in busi-
ness furniture.
All three people — in their
own ways and through their own
responsibilities — agree that
what really brightens their days
is customer satisfaction. Any
success they bring to the busi-
ness radiates back to their per-
sonal careers.


Mr. Harwood employs a staff of
15 whose responsibilities have

to do with lighting design or the
administrative tasks associated
with running any kind of busi-
When the company started,
Mr. Harwood was immersed in

tar player and manager of oth-
er entertainers, going backstage
to create both lighting and sound
Although he studied electri-
cal engineering at Wayne State
University and his
firm holds nine sep-
arate patents, his
major was English
literature, which he
especially values
now because a
large part of his
day is taken up
with preparing
client proposals
and periodic arti-
cles for trade publi-
"It has turned
out that I spend
more time writing
and speaking than
anything else," said
Mr. Harwood, who
the technical details of each Ron Harwood:
teaches lighting de-
new project. Now, with 30 No time to rest.
active projects at any giv-
sign at Wayne State.
en moment, he divides his hours "All the employees report di-
so he can get to know clients and rectly to me, and the only work
their needs, communicate those I do not delegate has to do
interests to designers, oversee with the expansion of the
the installation planning process facility and the invest-
ments the company
and approve final products.
"I avoid the title CEO because makes."
Sometimes Mr. Harwood will
CEOs seem like they're out of
touch with the business," said come in to work at 5 a.m. so he
Mr. Harwood, whose approach can write without any distrac-
becomes as somber as the Holo- tions. Also, his early morning
caust Memorial Center in West hours are taken up with re-
Bloomfield or as lighthearted as viewing and acting on faxes that
come in during the night from
a Disney retail store.
"I like the title senior design- clients in different time zones,
er because that is
what I do. I work
with all of my de-
signers to create
whatever envi-
ronment we're
working with."
Mr. Harwood
became interest-
ed in lighting
through his fa-
ther's business,
Auto City Elec-
tric, an installa-
tion contracting
firm. His interest
in theatrical
lighting grew
while he pursued
a career as a gui-

reading trade publications and
financial reports to keep an eye
on the market and going over
project reports to remain current
with staff initiatives.
As the day progresses, he
talks with clients about their
concerns and his, plans out vi-
sual presentations to sell clients
on firm services and meets with
staff members as they complete
their assignments.
"When I sense a new market
direction, I pursue it myself,"
said Mr. Harwood, who travels
extensively to sell his firm and
follow up on installation
progress. "If it becomes success-
ful, then I delegate it.
"I have a broader sense of
competition, and I shield the de-
signers so they won't feel they're
competing with other designers
in other design studios. I don't
think they need the pressure.
"Even though we're incredibly
successful, I don't feel I can ever
stop worrying or wondering
where the next job is going to
come from."


Andy Blitz:
Sell yourself first.

When Mr. Harwood is planning
a visual presentation for a client,
he works closely with Mr. Blitz,
who tries to show prospective
customers how Illuminating
Concepts can enhance their
businesses or their homes.
"Every day, I try to make a

DAY page 28





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