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Interview with Pio Nahum: "Innovation is never in recession!"

One often wonders what advice to give companies on how to deal with the global economic crisis of recent years, and – more generally – which fundamental factors need acting upon in order to do business successfully.

Clay Paky is a world famous company based in Bergamo (Italy), which works in the professional show lighting business. Not only is it coming unharmed through the recession, but it has even managed to consolidate its position as market leader. It has expanded its market share to the detriment of competitors and reinforced its sales network thanks to the prestige it has earned.

The figures are clear: sales were up by 13% on the previous year in 2008, and in 2009, turnover was stable while the entire industry, without exception, suffered a severe decline. 2010 is expected to be a record year since last year’s turnover had already been reached and passed in August!

These figures are the result of the countless events that Clay Paky has spectacularized with its lighting effects: the grand opening ceremony of the World Expo in Shanghai (May), the Youth Games in Singapore (July), the bicentenary of Mexico’s independence (September), and the recently held Commonwealth Games in India, to name but a few. They are all examples where hundreds of Clay Paky spotlights played a leading role, as in the recent opening and closing ceremonies of the FIFA World Cup, the Asian Games, and the Olympic Games in Beijing, and the Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Tina Turner and AC/DC mega concerts, and the rigs in the most prestigious theatres in the world, as well as in a large number of national and international TV studios.

To crown this exceptional year, Clay Paky has won a “Plasa Award for Innovation”, the most authoritative and prestigious prize in the business, which is given in acknowledgement of innovative technology every September in London. Hot on the heels of it, Clay Paky has immediately earned a second win at LDI in Las Vegas. The winning light is called Sharpy. It is a gem of microengineering. In only 16 kg, 45 cm and 190 W, it contains a light with an output equal to that of equipment nine times more powerful!

It simulates an effect similar to a laser beam, but with infinitely superior versatility of movement, projection, and effect and colour production. Sharpy won the award because innovative technology has been used to create an environmentally sustainable light. The official motivation states: “the Plasa judges were impressed by this new concept beamlight, which combines highly innovative constructional and optical characteristics to obtain a bright light, unique of its kind. We never thought we would see a 190 W light that we could use in Wembley Arena!”

What are the underlying reasons for this success? How is it that, in these years of global crisis, a company can increase its turnover and significantly strengthen its market presence?

We asked Clay Paky Sales and Marketing Manager Pio Nahum: “in a globalized market where there is no lack of products on offer, the only way to stand out is to offer innovation and quality. We must provide more than the others do while remaining competitive. There are two values that underlie the company’s mission: superior quality and continuous innovation.”

Clay Paky lights have earned the enviable fame of “superior quality products” on the professional lighting market for their brightness, sharpness of projection and richness of visual effects, and for their reliability and lifespan.

“These fundamental values,” continued Pio Nahum, “have never changed since the first day of life of our company, way back in 1976. We conceive each new product on this sound basis, try to understand the unexpressed needs of our customers, and add a touch of cutting-edge technology every time.”

Clay Paky has always invested in research and the development of innovative technology, but investments have significantly increased over the last three years, since the company is aware that only new ideas and working tools guarantee constant growth in the show business industry, where technology and innovation rule.

“Clay Paky is one of the two most copied brands in the world, especially by Chinese manufacturers, and this competition is hard to withstand. There are only a few arms still available to us: the immediate use of the most advanced technology, ceaseless creation of new products, speed in bringing them to all corners of the world, and exemplary quality. It is a difficult road, but one which Clay Paky has gone down with determination, and our customers are rewarding us. Many of Clay Paky’s lighting effects are innovative and exclusive concepts, often patented, that involve several branches of technology.” Pio Nahum goes on to say, “without getting too technical, we could mention the motorized beam shaper, which is an extraordinary gem of microengineering; or the incredible autofocus system, the result of advanced electronic solutions; or even the ground-breaking ‘beam’ effect, invented by Clay Paky using its know-how in optics, which has actually revolutionized the way light is provided at shows since 2008.”

Sharpy’s recent victory in the “Plasa Awards for Innovation” and in the “LDI Awards” confirms that the Bergamo company has adopted a successful strategy, but it also goes to show how passion, entrepreneurial courage and hard work can be acknowledged and rewarded.

“Working in this business, we have got used to being present at important events, and we often forget to mention them. This awards received are an important acknowledgement, but only for ‘insiders’. Yet we are hugely proud and would like to share them with all our workers and our local community.” Nahum concludes, “tomorrow we will again be totally engrossed in our commitments and the hectic pace today’s economy imposes. For a second though, we can enjoy this moment of success for Italian-made products, which allows us to envisage a future filled with great satisfaction.”