Profiles - A Light-Hearted Look at Industry Personalities

Jeremy Collins

Managing Director, Selecon

No. 86 in a continuing series

Jeremy Collins

Caricatures by

David Lewis

Finding theatre work much more engaging than academic pursuits, and having finished his History degree, Jeremy Collins went to work at the Mercury Theatre Auckland, at that time New Zealand's largest professional theatre company. Encouraged by a supportive theatre director and design team, stimulated by the irregular ‘Tabs' publications and Pilbrow's book ‘Stage Lighting', he set about exploring lighting design.

Five years later, with the creatively rewarding experience of dozens of shows behind him, empty pockets and the recognition of achieving a Lighting Designer programme credit, Jeremy left for the theatre centre of the world - London. With the support of the British Council and friends, tours of theatres followed and along with this the recognition that if one was going to continue to be poorly paid, at least one could do it where one could afford fresh vegetables.

Returning to New Zealand, Jeremy joined Selecon Reid which, in the early eighties, was commencing the manufacture of the first Selecon Fresnels and Profiles, using the T/1 lamp for a government schools supply contract. Together with this move into actually building the luminaires went the commitment to develop the business into an international manufacturer of stage luminaires. Along with developing markets in Australia and S.E. Asia for the Selecon range came the first NZ-made memory control lighting console whilst, in his spare time, Jeremy continued to engage his passion for lighting designs for opera, ballet and architectural commissions.

In 1985 the lighting business of Selecon Reid was bought by Jeremy and colleagues and renamed - Selecon. So, not terribly imaginative, but without imagination and vision Selecon was not! The requirement to deliver luminaires which are distinctive, provide superior performance and operational features, along with cost competitiveness are necessary precursors before the international markets will pay attention. Now firmly established as a leading European brand, the market leader in Australasia and enjoying a strong establishment growth in North America, Selecon export over 97% of production from their Auckland-based factory. Some of these exports end up about as far away from New Zealand as you can get - such as a recent order destined for the Odessa Opera House in the Ukraine!

From those very first luminaires the Selecon range has metamorphosed into a sophisticated range of Fresnels, PCs, traditional and base-down axial zoomspots, cycs, floods and groundrows, plus the innovative Pacific range of profile and fixed beam luminaires.

In more recent years Selecon has also created a niche market in specialist display lighting under the brand name of Ardiis, developing from an opportunity that first arose when Jeremy was invited to co-design the lighting for the New Zealand Pavilion at Expo ‘88 in Brisbane, Australia.

During his 19 years of leadership at Selecon Jeremy's lighting design work has shrunk as the demands of a global lighting company and family have grown. The downside of all this is missing the creative challenge and partnership involved in being part of a production team. The upside is to try and carry that passion and creativity into the world of manufacturing business; to enjoy the company of many friends and business colleagues around the world; having the opportunity to attend Opera in the world's centres
. . . and call it work . . . along with family holidays on Air Points

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