enLight Chapter 2: It’s What You Know… And Who You KnowApril 29, 2020
Last month, we learned a little more about enLight, the connected community technology developer – specifically, what the company does and how it has re-imagined the traditional lamp post to become an environmental monitoring hub.
That the company has reached this point is thanks to its structure, which combines the strength of a family unit with a wide and deep knowledge base acquired through decades of experience. The combination of David’s technological creativity and Les’s corporate know-how has resulted in a strong business that’s able to move forward both in terms of product development and financial stability. enLight always puts customer need at the top of the list in any new product creation, rather than trying to adapt existing technology – and it’s this approach that has driven the company from its very creation.
David and Les Aarons set up the company at the turn of the millennium, with David designing and building products encompassing networking solutions, electronic control systems and mechanical components. Les took the helm in terms of financials and commercials (having learned to run companies across sectors from hotels to printing during his years in business), while David spearheaded innovation and solution creation. The reason for joining forces was to combine their skills and therefore strengthen the business. Think about it – if a tech specialist sets up in business by themselves, they necessarily have to break away from their core skills in order to manage sales, finance and other key commercial activities, thus reducing the amount of time they spend working in the area in which they’re most useful.
The word “passion” gets regularly misused on TV talent shows, but David’s interest in electronics, software and innovation genuinely fits that description. “I’ve always done this,” he says. “It’s like I was born with innovation and curiosity in me.” Innovation can be traced back through the family’s history. “My mother’s uncle was Archie Frazer Nash, the performance car manufacturer of the 1920s,” says David. “He was a serial innovator… an inventor working across sectors such as automotive, military and commercial.” Frazer Nash was an engineer who came up with a series of commercial inventions, from a device to check the weight lifted by cranes to the chain drive (for which he is most famous) to key defence components such as gun turrets used during the Second World War.
“My grandfather was an innovator too,” adds David. “Not only did he create a whole range of discharge lamps, but he was assigned special duties during the Second World War because of these. Later, during the 1950s and 1960s, he pioneered infra-red heat lamp designs that were used not only for paint drying and curing but also heat-stressing the fuselages of aircraft such as Concorde. Other variants were used in film-studio lighting and even to keep zoo animals warm.”
David had built his own mobile disco before he was even a teenager and continued to design and create his own electronics after he left school: everything from power control, sensors and ultrasonic circuits to a sports-car dashboard. Some of these designs where ahead of their time – but we are now used to seeing them on a daily basis. One good example of this is smart, connected lighting, which David and his team pioneered back in 1999. This product enabled the chain of events that became the enLight company and brand. In 2010 David and the team were asked by ARM to join the pilot project that has become the Internet of Things.
Les earned a reputation for troubleshooting from turning around failing businesses. However, it was probably inevitable that he’d end up working for himself as he’s always been an entrepreneur. Although his career path took him through a variety of industries, the expertise he gained from running businesses gave him the skills to set up on his own.
David and Les first started working together during the early 1990s, when David came up with a controller for the arcade lights on Great Yarmouth seafront that not only produced more effects but made them safer too. It was a true family affair, with David’s sisters involved in the production of the products. From this evolved the street-lighting technology for which enLight is now renowned, and the company won both International Environmental invention and International Inventor of the Year awards in 1997.
Since then, enLight has won a raft of awards, including the regional and national Shell Springboard prize, the Millennium Product Design award, the Norfolk Network Innovation award and a UK Total Lighting award, EDP Business awards – and those are just a few of the accolades the company has received.
Although enLight designs and produces the environmental monitoring and control platforms that will enable a range of market sectors such as smart cities, smart facilities of the future, and address today’s key global issues (energy conservation, food production and security), the company isn’t a new kid on the block. Its history of innovation heritage, combined with its ingrained, knowledge-based structure, ensures enLight will remain at the forefront of connected community technology for the foreseeable future.
If you’d like to talk to enLight about any aspect of product design or smart city infrastructure, visit our website