Leadership at the specialized manufacturer Lighting Quotient recently — and enthusiastically — agreed to take their decades-long relationship with the IBEW and New Haven, Conn., Local 1040 to the next level by implementing the union’s Code of Excellence.
“The code has been a topic of discussion that’s been going around for a while,” said Local 1040 Business Manager Phillip Stewart.
Early last year, Second District International Representative John Horak recommended to Lighting Quotient owner Allison Schieffelin that the IBEW conduct Code of Excellence training for her company.
“I brought it up because I knew it would be a good fit,” Horak said.
International President Edwin D. Hill launched the Code of Excellence in 2007 to ensure the highest IBEW standards are upheld in every workplace. Company managers and IBEW members who formally enter into a code agreement commit to fully exhibiting the union’s SPARQ values: safety, professionalism, accountability, relationships and quality.
Workers at the Lighting Quotient manufacture specialized lighting systems for artists, architects and designers around the world. The company’s staff size can fluctuate depending on customer orders, Stewart said, and it was going through somewhat of a slow period when Horak suggested Code of Excellence implementation early last year.
Fortunately, this past spring, demand for Lighting Quotient’s products surged, helping to bring Local 1040’s workforce at the facility to its 40-member peak.
“We waited to do the code training when the company was at full force,” said Horak. “We felt that was much better.”
Stewart noted that Horak’s initial assessment of interest had been correct, and then some: Not only has Code of Excellence implementation at Lighting Quotient gone smoothly, but Schieffelin has also endorsed further code training.
“The overall experience was great,” said Schieffelin of the on-site, on-the-clock training, which she and others on the company’s management team attended. “I really enjoy working with the IBEW. They do a great job for us.”
Schieffelin’s father, Sylvan Shemitz, founded the company in 1977, building on an interest in the use of lighting in architecture dating to the 1940s, when he was running his family’s electric supply company in New Haven.
Today, the company is best known among designers and architects for its Elliptipar and Tambient products, which have been installed in high-profile places such as the Great Hall of Chicago’s Union Station; the inscription wall of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C.; and the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
Schieffelin, who took the reins of the company after her father died in 2007, described the labor-management relationship at Lighting Quotient as a “balance of IBEW and employers working together.”
“The IBEW wants to show that they want Lighting Quotient to succeed,” Schieffelin said. “It distinguishes our work” when customers and other employers see the professional, positive image of the IBEW and the Code of Excellence, she added. “It’s a win-win when we work with the IBEW.”
Schieffelin, who said she has had a copy of the Code of Excellence posted on her office door, wants to see more code classes to keep workers talking about it.
To that end, Education Department International Representative Craig Duffy recently conducted a Code of Excellence train-the-trainer session that will make it easier for future code trainings to be conducted by Lighting Quotient workers.
Meanwhile, Local 1040’s executive board is doing its part to keep interest in the program alive by authorizing the purchase of a Code of Excellence banner to be prominently displayed in the facility as well as special code T-shirts for staffers to wear on the job.
Schieffelin is fully on board with all of it. “You learn to earn,” she said. “Learning gives people confidence. One thing people can’t take away from you is what you learn.”