SOURCE: Light Waves Concept, Inc.

March 14, 2005 00:01 ET

America's First Neighborhood Store for LEDs

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 14, 2005 -- In 1979, Joel Slavis was a busy American purveyor of commercial high-tech track lighting. That summer he made a trip to gauge his competitors across the Atlantic and his whole business changed. Track lighting had taken Italy by storm. Only rudimentary versions of these designs were available back home and they were being offered for purely commercial use.

What he saw in Italy was a renaissance. The Italians were making what had been merely functional -- and bulky at that -- lighting designs into singular pieces of art that could be used to not only light the home, but beautify it too. Re-focusing his entire product line, Slavis brought track lighting stateside and started the first company in America to market designer track lighting to the individual consumer.

Since then, Light Waves Concept, Inc. has grown an average of 220% a year by bringing a product historically available mainly in bulk orders for professional developers and builders straight from the designer to the amateur homeowner, effectively eliminating a very expensive middleman.

In the summer of last year, Slavis saw the future again. This time inspiration would come in the form of the light itself and now, although track lighting remains the company's backbone, LEDs are what it's seeing.

"What we did with track lighting, we are trying to do with LED lighting," says Slavis from his office in the Noho section of lower Manhattan. Slavis saw early on that because of the technical nature of LEDs, the professionals were getting in the way. "Consumers would always rather get things straight from the source instead of having to deal with a bunch of middlemen. LEDs should be no different. Our company's mission statement just happened to coincide with what was- and still is- a huge gap in the LED market."

Bob Steele, director of optoelectronics at Strategies Unlimited, a market research company specializing in the study of LEDs, recently told the Herald-Sun, "Many established companies are stuck in a traditional, slow-moving industry that has a vested interest in continuing its current product lines...Little companies can search out these niche markets and do creative engineering. That's where all the action is at this point."

Slavis has found a way to continue his current product line by simply offering LED bulbs in place of incandescent ones in his track systems while concurrently introducing an average of 3 new LED products a month. He now stocks every bulb on the market and boasts the largest selection of LED fixtures in the country.

But, the gap is still alive and well. State governments are replacing many lighting systems with LEDs for huge energy savings and developers are beginning to build houses fitted only with LEDs, but, as of the date of this article's filing, Light Waves Concept is the only web-based retailer where one can buy a lone LED bulb if he or she so chooses. Anywhere else one must buy an outlandish amount of product to get in on this new technology. And if you're able to find a retail outlet, chances are the product will have been marked up just under a dozen times and the high-school clerk selling it will know less about it than you do.

Every single American currently enjoys the benefits of LED lighting several times a day, whether they know it or not. Television and VCR remote controls, billboards, televisions, Christmas lights, cellphones, car lights, stoplights and walk signals are all built with LEDs. The Economist reported this month that if the progress continues at its current rate, LEDs will be able to replace every light bulb in existence by 2010 while using 750% less energy and lasting 100 times longer to boot. Although LEDs cost much more up front, analysts estimate they pay for themselves within the first two years of their eleven-year lifespan.

"We created this company to make this product available to everyone," said Slavis "and we believe LED lighting is already in a place where the average person can benefit from it in a number of ways."

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