Sparks Electrical News

Lindsay van den Berg, managing director of Bergstrom Industries, has been in the lighting business for three decades. She thrives on the dynamic landscape of the electrical industry and enjoys working with her staff for their distinctive sense of humour and their passion for what they do.

Lindsay van den Bergh Sparks personalitySparks: Where were you educated?

LvdB: St Andrews School for Girls and Wits University.

Sparks: How long have you been involved in the electrical industry? 

LvdB: I have been involved in the lighting and electrical industry for 31 years. 

Sparks: When and where did you start your career?

LvdB: I started my career in an audit and accounting firm.  When Chris van den Berg founded Bergstrom in September 1986, I became the financial director. I have been involved in all aspects of the company – production, design, customer relations and supplier service.  For the past three years, I have been the managing director.

Sparks: What are the greatest changes you have seen over the years?

LvdB: The integration of technology into luminaires. When Bergstrom was founded, T5 seemed to be the future of lighting.  It amazes me how far we have surpassed this technology in such a short time. The advances have enhanced lighting functionality and efficiency, and improved living comfort. One of the greatest breakthroughs in technology is the niche of human-centric lighting.  This has shown lighting to be beneficial to sight, and also to a person’s emotional response throughout the work day.

Sparks: What is your greatest accomplishment?

LvdB: I have brought up three amazing children and have been blessed with five grandchildren. My daughters have become my closest advisors and my son has joined me in the lighting industry – he has a passion for the industry and is a great asset to the Bergstrom team.

Sparks: Who has been your inspiration or have you had a mentor who has influenced your career?

LvdB: My interest and love for the lighting industry came from Chris, my husband, who had a remarkable knowledge of reflector and lighting design. His legacy of quality and innovation in lighting has led the direction of the company for over 30 years and will continue to be a cornerstone in future.

My father, Hugh Caroline, is my greatest inspiration in business. He has constantly been in my business life guiding my financial decisions and helping me maintain a balance between family and work life. I can honestly say I would not be where I am today without his guidance and influence.

Sparks: What, to your mind, is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry at this time?

LvdB: I feel that there are a couple of challenges facing our industry today:

  • Inferior products are increasingly being imported and used due to cost pressures and lack of knowledge of the cons of using poor quality products. Customers frequently end up being turned off LED technology altogether, having experienced problems with low quality products.
  • The instability of the South African economy, especially as it relates to exchange rates and international and local investment. Volatile exchange rates are impacting all industries reliant on raw materials. Lack of investment in the country from government and private organisations means that infrastructure development and growth of businesses in general is slowing. This results in less work being available and companies holding back on investing in innovation and business development initiatives.
  • There are fewer and fewer skilled tradesmen in the industry– toolmakers, draftsmen, etc. as younger generations see these career paths as less glamorous than professions trained through universities.
  • The rate of change in the industry is likely to accelerate exponentially as technology advances faster than ever before. Staying ahead of the curve will become more and more challenging.

Sparks: What do you enjoy most about your job?

LvdB: I enjoy the dynamic landscape of the electrical industry – no day is the same – and the relationships I have formed over the years. Day-to-day interaction with my staff, suppliers and customers has always been a great motivation. Bergstrom has formed a unique company culture and I enjoy working with great, diverse people who have a distinctive sense of humour and passion for what they do.

Sparks: How do you motivate your staff?

LvdB: By encouraging them to set personal and professional goals. I give them regular feedback on projects won or lost.  I have an open door policy.

Sparks: If you could "do it all again", would you change anything? If so, what would that be?

LvdB: On a personal note, I would have loved to have played more golf! Unfortunately, between family and business it has been hard to find the time to get onto the golf course.

Sparks: Would you advise a person leaving school to enter the electrical industry? And why?

LvdB: Yes, the industry offers career opportunities in many different areas, appealing to various personality types. There really is something for everyone.

Sparks: What is your advice to electrical contractors and/or electrical engineers?

LvdB: Know the strengths and capabilities of the companies and people you partner with. Partnering with companies that complement yours will lead to the successful completion of projects; Use reputable lighting companies and get in touch with OEM manufacturers for information on their components and latest technology – staying abreast of what is currently available is key; Using the correct product for the correct application will make all the difference; and finally, drinks are always on suppliers!

Sparks: What is your favourite quote?

LvdB: ‘Your attitude, not your aptitude will determine your altitude’ (Zieg Ziglar).

Sparks: Name three things on your ‘bucket list’ (things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’).

LvdB: Play golf at Pebble Beach, See the great migration on the Serengeti plains and take a trip to the Arctic to see the glaciers.  

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Contact Sparks Electrical News

Title: Editor
Name: Karen Grant
Email: sparks@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Carin Hannay
Email: carinh@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

 
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