Jean-Claude Calabro — President of LumiGroup — a Man Rooted in His Environment and His Industry

January 5, 2017 

Line Goyette

Aesthetics, design, flair, anchored in his community, these are words easily associated with Jean-Claude Calabro, President of LumiGroup, a manufacturer’s agent for lighting and control products. His business model is that of a contractor — one who has evidently done well since LumiGroup is on an exclusive list of Canadian companies experiencing the most growth over the past five years.

Located in the heart of Montreal’s Mile-End, LumiGroup has a 10,000+ square foot showroom on two floors. To mark the company’s 20th anniversary, LumiGroup opened “Le Studio” in spring 2016, a contemporary gallery-like space where you’ll find an international collection of luminaires.

LumiGroup has thousands of projects to its credit: office, commercial and industrial projects. The Montreal and Quebec cityscapes showcase the agency’s expertise. I often see members of the LumiGroup team at conferences and trade shows, always on the lookout for innovations and trends in lighting and control.

I recently met with Jean-Claude Calabro to learn a little more about the man behind LumiGroup’s success and the company that contributes so actively to charitable organizations in local communities.

From electrical worker to boss

Jean-Claude Calabro is from a family of electricians and is himself an electrician. “My father and my grandfather were electricians; my brother-in-law and my cousins are also. I worked in my father’s company for five or six years, especially in commercial projects, and this is where I developed a taste and passion for lighting.”

To become a better entrepreneur, he returned to school, enrolling in the HEC Montreal business school. “Once out of university, I had two choices: either work at Hydro-Quebec, or start up my own company. I did an analysis of who I was and where I came from, and I chose to become an entrepreneur electrician specializing in lighting.”

This brings us to 1992 and there are energy saving programs in place for converting luminaires from four to two tubes. “For five years all I did was convert fixtures in businesses and shops in the greater Montreal area. We studied energy efficiency with Hydro-Québec and went in search of subsidies. I had 20 electricians who worked for the company and 5 reps.”

The program ended and the company went from five contracts a day to one a week. “It was radical. My business model was based on the energy subsidy model.”

Now it’s 1995 and Jean-Claude Calabro starts LumiGroup with only his cell phone, his car, and one manufacturer. “I didn’t want to work with electricity, but with lighting. “For four years I represented a single manufacturer, then I became more interested in design and the needs of lighting professionals and architects. I added other manufacturers to my portfolio.”

The company grows rapidly, works on major projects, establishes itself in Mile-End, and opens an office in Quebec City.

“When I started attending trade shows and large trade fairs in lighting, I developed a taste for design.”

Lighting controls — a new business model

“Lighting has become much more technical. We now have engineers on site to advise clients on control systems, and have a selection of systems. My business today is helping designers, architects, and engineers. We help them achieve lighting projects in the most energy-efficient way possible.

“We are now more focused on lighting effects, so that lighting serves a function beyond the sole purpose of illuminating. Systems are designed based on the needs of the customer. Relationships are becoming more and more important.

“Design is not only a question of calculations, it’s a question of feeling. We must communicate with the customer to understand and translate how they want to experience space into lighting solutions. What motivates me is finding new ways of doing things. We live in a world of change. Everything changes, everywhere, in all areas.

“There is a new generation who likes to do things differently, and lighting design is also completely different. Today customers understand better what they want, and our role is to advise on the products. We’ve moving towards more and greater integration of lighting controls. The product of the future is a smart product.”

Jean-Claude Calabro seems to be always moving forward, succeeding at transitions and following market trends with good spirits. He smiled at my comment. “In a company, it’s important to celebrate success. What hasn’t worked, we’re trying to forget. I tried things, partnerships that didn’t work. These are stages, not failures, and fortunately with age we make better choices. Choosing to be an agent is choosing to be an entrepreneur, and I think I am entrepreneur at heart. When we start a new year, we start at zero. Nothing is guaranteed, but it’s the same for an employee or any other company.”

Life outside lighting?

The spouse of Jean-Claude Calabro has been a shoulder to learn on since the beginning of LumiGroup, and joined the company full time a decade ago. His eldest daughter has also been working there during her studies. She has completed a Bachelor’s degree in marketing and international business, and is now studying law. The youngest is 14 years old. She still has time. In the meantime, she accompanies her parents who stop everything once a year to go on vacation.

“We always take three weeks of vacation at the end of the year and three weeks in the summer. When travelling, we visit many museums, it fascinates me. It allows us to better understand where we come from.”

Calabro and his wife are passionate about jogging and cycling. Many charitable activities supported by Calabro and his company involve physical challenges, including, for four years running, the 48-hour ride for Make-a-Wish/Fais-Un-Voeu Québec, which takes place every September on behalf of sick children.

A source of inspiration in his life? Great entrepreneurs such as Pierre Karl Péladeau, Paul Desmarais and, of course, those in his own community.


Line Goyette is Managing Editor of LDS; linegoyette@kerrwil.com.

 

Related Articles


Latest Articles

  • Comprehensive Energy Savings Incentive Program for Alberta Businesses

    Comprehensive Energy Savings Incentive Program for Alberta Businesses

    Through additional financial incentives for participants bundling efficiency measures and new technology types, the Comprehensive Energy Savings (CES) stream supports facilities that are aiming to achieve deeper emissions reductions and energy savings. Participants that bundle smaller capital investments into a bigger investment package will benefit from increased incentives and greater long-term results, such as increased… Read More…

  • ECAO Anti-Racism Toolbox TalkAnti-Racism Toolbox

    ECAO Anti-Racism Toolbox TalkAnti-Racism Toolbox

    February 7, 2023 Racist actions, activities, tones, or remarks have no place in Ontario workplaces including construction sites. The ECAO not only have zero tolerance for any form of racism or intimidation, they are taking responsibility to stand up and be actively anti-racist in policy and action. To assist and educate member companies and their… Read More…

  • 2022 Electrical Contractor Survey: Material Availability and Price Volatility Increasing Risk for Electrical Contractors

    2022 Electrical Contractor Survey: Material Availability and Price Volatility Increasing Risk for Electrical Contractors

    February 6, 2023 By: Blake Marchand There are several factors that have led to uncertainty when it comes to material availability and product prices fluctuation in the electrical market. Primarily, those factors stem from global events that influence the broader market – the value and demand of raw materials, the cost of shipping, the cost… Read More…

  • Guide to the Canadian Electrical Code, Part 1 , 25th Edition – A Road Map: Section 80

    Guide to the Canadian Electrical Code, Part 1 , 25th Edition – A Road Map: Section 80

    Rule 80-000 notes that this is a supplementary or amendatory section of the code and applies only to the installation of impressed current cathodic protection systems. Appendix B and the CEC Handbook have additional information and descriptions of Cathodic Protection. This Section considers that the wiring methods used in installing such systems are sometimes inconsistent with the requirements of other Sections of the Code. Read More…


Changing Scene

  • Arlington Presents National and Regional Sales Awards at NEMRA 2023 Conference

    Arlington Presents National and Regional Sales Awards at NEMRA 2023 Conference

    February 7, 2023 Arlington Industries Inc. is pleased to announce the recipients of their annual representative sales awards – for 2022 sales of Arlington’s MADE IN USA and many patented, innovative and labor-saving products. Presented to firms representing Arlington at the recent 2023 National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA) meeting in Las Vegas, the awards… Read More…

  • Westburne Announces Three New Appointments in Quebec

    Westburne Announces Three New Appointments in Quebec

    February 7, 2023 Westburne has announced three new appointments in for their Quebec division. Stephane Lepage has been appointed Director of Sales – West effective January 10th. “With over 25 years of experience, Stephane started his career with Westburne, where he held several positions within the company. He then moved to other distributors and manufacturers…. Read More…

  • Acuity Brands Announces Licensing Agreement with BIOS

    Acuity Brands Announces Licensing Agreement with BIOS

    February 7, 2023  Acuity Brands, Inc. announced today that its subsidiary Acuity Brands Lighting, Inc. has entered into an agreement to participate in the BIOS ILLUMINATED™ partnership program. In connection with this agreement, BIOS will sell to Acuity Brands certain human-centric LED lighting components for use in its architectural lighting fixtures for wellness. Acuity Brands will… Read More…

  • FLO Introduces FLO Ultra™: a New DC Fast Charger Designed to Provide the Ultimate Fast Charging Experience

    FLO Introduces FLO Ultra™: a New DC Fast Charger Designed to Provide the Ultimate Fast Charging Experience

    February 7, 2023 FLO introduced FLO Ultra, an ultra-fast charger engineered to maximize energy delivery with future-proof performance and smart design that enables the ultimate EV charging experience. “EV demand and sales are topping all industry expectations and are now forecasted to exceed more than 45% of U.S. light duty vehicle sales by 2030,” said Nathan Yang,… Read More…