Interviews + Opinion

NLB’s Randy Reid Talks Warranties

I recently had the opportunity to interview Randy Reid, Executive Director, National Lighting Bureau (NLB) on the topic of the NLB’s new Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program for an article for tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED.

Launched in 2020, this program audits warranties from manufacturer applicants in a points-based system. Qualifying warranties may carry the Trusted Warranty label, signifying the warranty satisfies the program’s criteria covering accessibility, internal support, clarity, relation of terms to reliability testing, warranty insurance based on length of warranty compared to years in business, and responsiveness to warranty claims.

Here’s the transcript:

DiLouie: What was the market need for the NLB Trusted Warranty Program? Why was this program developed? What’s in it for electrical distributors?

Reid: Great question. There are companies, some of which are new, that have great innovative products and the market has been reluctant to use products from unfamiliar manufacturers.  By offering a trusted warranty, we hope to put the market at ease that a particular product, and the company, can be trusted. There are also a few bad actors who do not stand behind their warranty and it will be difficult for those companies to achieve our high standards.  When warranty issues occur, the electrical distributor is usually caught in the middle and many times has to absorb the cost of the warranty especially for some strategic customers.    The Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program is meant to give the electrical distributor assurance that the manufacture will take care of their warranty issues.

DiLouie: What are the results so far? How many companies have signed up?

Reid: We halted the program before it began in March because of COVID and are only now relaunching it.  We have three evaluations that are in beta now and we are scheduling dozens of evaluations in DEC and early 2021.

DiLouie: How should electrical distributors use the program during their vendor and product evaluations?

Reid: Today, we hope that our channel partners (distributors, contractors, and lighting designers) will simply begin acknowledging the program.  In 2021 we hope to see soft language such as “XYZ Distributor prefers lighting products recognized by the NLB’s Trusted Warranty Program.”  In 2022, we hope to see language, “XYZ Distributor buys the majority of lighting products from companies recognized by the NLB’s Trusted Warranty Program.”  In 2023, we hope that distributors will actually specify that that their lighting products MUST carry the NLB’s Trusted Warranty seal of approval.  Basically it is a three-year roll out.

DiLouie: If you could say only one thing to all electrical distributors about the Trusted Warranty program, what would it be?

Reid: One of the main goals of the Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program is to lower the inherent risk that electrical distributors ultimately face regarding warranty costs.

DiLouie: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Reid: Because this is a new program it comes down to a push-pull philosophy.  We need manufacturers to be audited before distributors and lighting designers can fully utilize the program.  Yet, distributors and lighting designers need to request Trusted Warranty products in an effort to push the manufacturers to request the audit. That is why we are requesting distributors to begin the soft push from where manufacturers can see the potential demand.

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