LEDVANCE is a company where past and present meet. A startup with 100 years of experience. We sat down with two employees: one has been working for OSRAM for four years, the other is now in his fourth decade with the company. A conversation about constants and changes – and the timeless passion for light.
When it comes to lighting, Kunz von Kriegelstein is the go-to-source. As a photo engineer, he has worked for OSRAM in various positions since 1985 – be it as a production manager, a sales rep or a speaker. Christian Burger started his dual course of study at OSRAM in 2012. Today, he coordinates the sales marketing for luminaires at LEDVANCE and studies a Master’s program in parallel. During their joint interview, it quickly became apparent that they understand each other well – despite having an age gap of more than 40 years.
Mr. von Kriegelstein, when you started your career at OSRAM in 1985, Mr. Burger had not even been born yet. What was different back then?
Kunz von Kriegelstein: The working conditions were not comparable at all. We still used typewriters back then – and if you were really up-to-date, you owned a fax machine. Smartphones were unheard of. As a sales engineer, I also worked in places that were unfamiliar to me. At that time, it wasn’t winning customers that was tricky – it was finding their location in the first place! (laughs)
Mr. Burger, you started at OSRAM in 2012. Now you are right in the center of action as LEDVANCE launches. Do you think there are aspects that haven’t changed since the time Mr. Kriegelstein started at OSRAM?
Christian Burger: The biggest constant in my opinion is the importance that customer service has at OSRAM. That has not changed in all those years. I also find it remarkable that 30 years ago, Kunz already dealt with luminaires. We also focus heavily on them at LEDVANCE. Cutting-edge LED luminaires are an important cornerstone of our product strategy. They can be used in many applications, are easy to install and have a fair price-performance ratio.
Kriegelstein: At times I worked as a product manager, for instance for plant lights. What strikes me is that back then, all our products were designed for homes. Now LEDVANCE is venturing into the professional sector. The product portfolio is much more diverse.
Burger: Part of the reason for this is that the focus today lies a lot more on the biodynamic effects of light: the influence that lighting has on quality of life. We have made a lot of progress in that field over the last few years. Especially when it comes to LEDs – it is now very easy to control your lighting and set colors according to your needs.
One can tell you both have a passion for light…
Burger: The possibilities of innovative lighting excite me. With smart LED products you can control the lighting via an app, for instance. That is a revolution in the lighting market and proof of what is possible. Another example is LED retrofit lamps with filament technology. They look like incandescent lamps but are actually LED. What an eye-catcher! Or take the Duo Click DIM lamps that can be dimmed with a double click on the light switch.
Kriegelstein: It has always fascinated me that 80 % of the information that our brains process is visual. We have a strong connection to our environment; our emotions are highly affected by light. We must not forget that in the so-called civilized world, we spend 90 % of our time indoors. In the future we therefore can and must use artificial LED light to increase our quality of life. Many studies have shown that this is possible. But there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Did people use to think: “Light has to be efficient and bright – and that’s it”?
Kriegelstein: Indeed, but the question of how to generate efficient light was answered a long time ago. Today our LED products are about ten times as efficient as the good old incandescent lamps.
Mr. Burger, you are responsible for marketing the luminaires at LEDVANCE – the focus of the company. How do you handle this responsibility at such a young age?
Burger: Of course this creates a certain level of pressure for me. But at the same time, it is a tremendous incentive. What our project team has achieved within the last few months is incredible and a wonderful example of how LEDVANCE can make headway in the future.
How do you like the atmosphere among colleagues?
Burger: We are like a family – that is something I already experienced at OSRAM. Everything is very informal, everyone works together. At the moment the mood is very optimistic. We all help each other out and have become close. That’s the LEDVANCE spirit.
Kriegelstein: LEDVANCE customers want to benefit from the same positive attributes that they associate with OSRAM: high quality, the best value for their money and great reliability. These characteristics will ensure LEDVANCE succeeds too.
Mr. Burger, OSRAM let you assume responsibility very quickly. How has the company supported you?
Burger: In 2012 I started my dual course of study at OSRAM and then worked in several divisions of the company. Marketing especially appealed to me. OSRAM then hired me for an international position and entrusted me with the topic of luminaires. Now I try to reward them with my best possible commitment.
What has been your professional highlight so far?
Burger: I got the chance to join our North American headquarters in the USA for two months. That was an experience you don’t get in every company. But it was important to OSRAM that I receive a global-level training. The exchange with other colleagues from Europe, America and China is a huge part of my daily work.
Kriegelstein: My best lighting moment was when I realized how I was boosted by biologically effective lighting while working - even if the night time was slightly shorter.
Kriegelstein: Do you have a technical education Christian?
Burger: I have a commercial education but I’ve always been very fond of technical aspects. I believe that this is important for my job.
Kriegelstein: Very nice! I also try to bring attention to our technical strengths at speeches, seminars or when supporting clients. I find it really important to live with and for my products. The customer notices and appreciates that.
Burger: It’s not only the customers that notice it – it’s also my girlfriend! (laughs) She often has to laugh when I analyze the lighting of every single building when we take a walk.
What does the lighting in your home look like?
Burger: In my living room I have installed lamps with Lightify, which means I can control them with my smartphone. I can adjust the lighting according to my needs – whiter light for working at my desk and a little warmer for the evening hours. Of course, I have equipped all lighting points with energy-efficient LED lamps. And over the dining table hangs our new Edition 1906 with retrofit lamps. All my friends love it.
Kriegelstein: In my living area, I use rather conventional lamps. But increasingly, I throw filament LED lamps into the mix. Besides, I have installed Lightify wherever possible, even outdoors. You can do nice “tricks” with the light – and impress your friends and neighbors!
You have been in the business for a long time, Mr. von Kriegelstein. How do you feel about the trends of digitalization and smart lighting?
Kriegelstein: It’s a huge opportunity! If you don’t embrace the trends with all your power, you lose. I am engineer with passion. When novel technologies arrive, I explore them. I want to understand and implement them flawlessly.
We have talked a lot about changes. But in which areas do you still sense OSRAM’s 100 years of experience?
Burger: Just take our experienced sales reps. Some of them have been with the company for 20 or 30 years. This is a pool of experience that we will take with us to LEDVANCE. And of course our standards of quality: they have always been there and will always be there.
Kriegelstein: It was always important to me that we are truthful to our business partners and that we talk openly about problems with them. That’s what OSRAM stands for.
Mr. Burger, when thinking about your future career, which skills of Mr. von Kriegelstein would be useful for you to have?
Burger: All of them! (laughs) Above all his giant wealth of experience and his ability to think on the spot. And moreover his friendly demeanor and his relaxed attitude.
Mr. von Kriegelstein, are there also things that you could still learn from your younger colleague?
Kriegelstein: Sure thing! It is especially important to know how young people use the modern media. My age is no excuse for me, I try to keep up. You have to understand the attitude to life of the younger generation in order to know which products they need. OSRAM is known by more than 90 % of the older generation. It has to be the goal that LEDVANCE acquires such a status with the younger generation as well!