Page 14 - Entertainmnet Technology 246 - August 2013

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August 2013
14
features
Robe Lighting: International Growth
Based in the Czech Republic, Robe is
a main-stage player in the design and
manufacture of automated luminaires and
digital lighting products. Owners Ladislav
Petřek and Josef Valchář have guided
the company to its present pre-eminent
position. John Offord researched the story.
Although the company had started
designing and manufacturing lighting
fixtures over ten years earlier, the year
when Robe was initiated as a brand in its
own right was 2002, and the occasion was
the SIB show in Rimini, Italy. It was also
the year the industry in general took proper
note of the company. At the PLASA Show
in London of September the same year, the
latest generation of their moving lights, the
AT (Advanced Technology) Series, was
to become their flagship product for the
first decade of the 21
st
century. Robe had
arrived.
Returning to the company’s roots, in
the period 1990-1993 Ladislav Petřek
had started importing PAR cans, mirror
balls and other lighting equipment from
Germany, and spotted a growing market
for lighting installations opening up post
the country’s Velvet Revolution. He then
started to design and build sound activated
lighting effects, which were marketed
through his company ProLux. Josef
Valchář was recruited as a sales manager
and in 1993 they started to design their first
Scans.
Valchář had his sights on developing an
entire product range and selling into other
parts of Europe, and so the two decided
to collaborate in a joint venture and Robe
Show Lighting was born. Robe’s first
Frankfurt ProLight & Sound exhibition
secured their first OEM customer. Robe’s
initial products were scanners and sound
activated fixtures. Also their ‘Dominator’
effect broke new ground in using the first
generation of servo motors, and all Robe
products were made DMX controllable
from this point onwards.
SIB in Rimini in 1995 saw the launch of
new scanners, using the first generation of
stepper motors – upping the success and
reliability stakes. By this time, Robe had
expanded rapidly to 25 people and bought
their 1,000 square metre office premises
in Hážovice near Roznov. Manufacturing
and administration both moved into that
building.
A period of steady and sustainable growth
culminated in the next technological
breakthrough – the introduction of the 250
Spot and Wash moving heads in 1999.
After bringing these products to the market,
Robe was approached by a leading Italian
manufacturer to produce an entire range
of products under one of their alternative
brands, which was launched at PLASA
that year. This quality and cost-effective
product proved a massive success, and
also brought the benefit of introducing
Robe to a whole new strata of clients.
Robe’s reputation was growing fast. In 2000
they started to work for other major OEM
clients in France, Germany and Italy to
produce moving lights for these companies.
The Millennium was an incredible year for
Robe and saw the tripling of their previous
annual turnover to 20 million DM.
In January 2001, the company acquired
its current factory premises (then 5,000
square metres) in Valašské Meziříčí in the
north-east of the country 15km from the
original office. It was completely gutted
and modernised and production moved in
during November.
Robe Lighting’s HQ at Valašské Meziříčí.
Part of the production area at
Valašské Meziříčí.
High-tech PCB production at Robe’s Dioflaex facility in Roznov.