LDI And ESTA: An Update

It’s kind of ironic that we here at Live Design/LDI are in the communication business, but sometimes we’re not so good about telling you what we’ve been up to. And sometimes if you don’t tell people your story, other people try to tell your story for you.

This notion hit home recently due to some misinformation out there regarding our ongoing involvement with ESTA. As you know, ESTA is an important industry association made up of lighting dealers, distributors, and manufacturers. They do vital work in standards and certification, and are the driving force for Behind The Scenes, the crucial industry charity.

What you may not know is that for over 20 years LDI has been one of ESTA’s strongest consistent supporters, providing them with critical funding to help with standards, certification, and other important efforts. Additionally, we have provided them with space on the LDI show floor to help their outreach efforts, as well as countless hotel rooms and meeting rooms to conduct their meetings and other events. Our financial contribution over the last five years alone has totaled well over seven figures.

Did you know we provided that level of support? Pretty sure you didn’t, because we kept forgetting to tell anyone.

Do you know what we got in return? Essentially, the knowledge that we helped the industry. But that’s pretty good, right? We feel really good about that.

Our latest five-year agreement with them was forged just after their merger with PLASA, the UK association. That contract was scheduled to end after last year’s LDI, and we felt the time was right to re-negotiate new terms. When I say we, I mean the entire LDI team—myself, Marian Sandberg, Ellen Lampert-Greaux, Kelly Turner, Douglas Lugo, Beth Weinstein, Joanne Zola, Meghan Perkins, and our managers Sandy Voss and Fred Linder. It’s important to mention that because some industry folks seem fixated on the fact that we are owned by a company called Penton, and that management somehow dictated our actions here. Penton management is pretty cool, as far as management goes, but at the end of the day the business decisions we make are driven by us and what we think is best for the franchise.

Given that, we informed the association of our intentions last summer. In the months that followed, ESTA was faced with a series of changes that culminated in their decision to part ways with PLASA which created its own set of challenges for the association. Recognizing that immediately, we have met regularly with executive director Lori Rubinstein, president Jules Lauve, and various other key ESTA members since last September to come to a new agreement.

That’s the story of where we are now. But apparently it’s not the only story.

Since LDI, we’ve been hearing versions in which key parts are taken out in order to drive a particular narrative. Versions which omit the support we’ve given ESTA over the years. Versions in which we cut off funding and have no intention of providing any further support for the association going forward. Versions in which the Eye of Sauron compelled us to cancel the agreement.

Folks, none of it is true. Let me be clear: We have every intention of continuing our longstanding support of ESTA, and, as previously stated, both sides are working hard toward an agreement that benefits not only both parties, but the industry as a whole. It’s been a long process, but we’ve made a lot of progress, and we will continue to work to make something great happen.

At the same time, I want to issue a challenge to all of you. The work ESTA does is important to everyone who works in this industry. As a non-profit, it shouldn’t rely on one single entity for the bulk of its funding. The more we can all chip in, the better for everyone. Even if you think there is no need for you to join the association, there is a need for what the association does every day you are on the job. You can make a difference right now by donating directly to ESTA’s Technical Standards Program here

Lastly, we are living in a peculiar age where our access to information is unprecedented, but our ability to sort out fact from fiction is more challenging than ever. Fake news, social media feeds, echo chambers, the grapevine—an endless stream of data is out there, but so much of it lacks context, or balance, or sometimes even a whiff of truth. Anybody can say anything these days, and a lot of people will take it at face value, and before you know it, something that’s not really true, or something that’s half true, has become part of a narrative. But facts and context matter, and we will do our best to provide both, in everything we do.

I hope that clears some of this up. We’ll keep you posted as things progress. But please hit me up if you still have any questions.

David Johnson
Managing Director
Live Design and LDI
[email protected]

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