Eric Loader rejoins
the American DJ family as Elation’s Director of Sales.
By John Landers
Eric Loader is back. After more than
a decade with Martin Professional, he’s rejoined the
American DJ Group. As the new director of the firm’s
Elation Professional (elationlighting.com) and Acclaim Lighting
(acclaimlighting.com) divisions, Loader has returned to the
company that helped launch his career 20 years ago. “It’s
kind of a homecoming,” he says.
But instead of settling in and arranging his office furniture,
he’s on the move with the Elation 2006 Training Product
Road Show. “We’re doing a lot of traveling,”
says Loader via cell phone while driving to his next stop.
“I was in Dallas all last week. We had the training
in Miami the week before that. It’s been busy, but being
busy is good.”
As an industry veteran, Loader knows how important it is to
stay connected to the customers. “I’ve been in
the business 20 years,” he states. “I started
as a DJ when I was 16. I had a couple of systems, and put
myself through college DJ-ing. That’s when I started
doing club installs and production.”
It’s that kind of practical, hands-on experience that
got Loader his first national position with American DJ, but
it’s his understanding of the nightclub market that
brought him back to his roots. To better understand Elation’s
past, present and future, we caught up with Loader and asked
him about his new job.
So, why did you leave Martin Professional?
I left Martin because of the opportunity presented to me to
play a key role in the continued growth of the American DJ
group of companies, especially Elation and Acclaim, which
I could not pass up.
Elation Professional has been building
intelligent lighting controllers and fixtures for a while,
but there’s more to the brand than that. Can you give
us some background about the company? Elation is
a company that serves two functions. We are a distributor
of different brand name products like Alkalite, which is our
LED line, and we also have Antari foggers. We distribute a
few lines that we feel fit our product portfolio. We are also
a manufacturer of automated lighting and control systems,
including the Elation Show Designer series. When you talk
about automated lighting, that includes the Vision Series,
the Design Series, and the Power Series. We manufacture all
of those products ourselves, so we serve two roles in the
market. We primarily focus on the Americas, but we have partners
in Europe and Asia that distribute our products worldwide.
We want to make Elation a global brand. That’s part
of the reason why I’m here.
The Elation name does seem to be
gaining awareness in the nightclub industry. We’ve
done a great job, especially the last two years, of getting
more market share and getting the name out there. Our goal
is always to give the highest quality for the value. It’s
a phrase that’s used a lot, but that’s our goal.
LEDs are all the rage in West Covina, Calif.’s
Let’s talk about some specific
products. What can you tell us about Elation’s controllers?
The Show Designer One has been out on the market eight years
ago, and the Show Designer Two has been out for a few years
now. We’re getting ready to launch our Show Designer
Three, which will be ideal for live applications or where
you want more hands-on control of your lighting system. It’ll
have three DMX universes – thus Show Designer Three
– and it’ll have more playback faders, master
group faders, and group buttons. So if you’re doing
live applications . . .
. . . you won’t need six hands
to react to what’s happening on stage. Nice. What about
computer-based control applications? We also distribute
Compuware software, which is coming out with version 2006.
That’ll be launched in two months as well. Computer
software is very powerful, and you can hook up a touch screen
to the system for more hands-on input. It depends on the application.
If you just have a DJ in the booth and you need him to trigger
some lights now and then, the Compuware’s perfect. It
also has a powerful new feature, pixel mapping, which is great
for LED fixtures. You can actually drag video clips into the
software and do pseudo low-res video effects with your LED
Speaking of LEDs, the Elation Octopod
80 was nominated for the Best LED Product Club World Award
last year. How is Elation continuing to take advantage of
that particular lighting technology? We’re
adding to the Octopod Series this year, and we’ve got
the Octostrip coming out in a month or two. It’s a strip
of LEDs designed for cove lighting, uplighting or downlighting
walls. Of course, you can use it as a visual element as well.
With the OctoStrip, I think people will really begin to see
the different types of applications where you can use LEDs.
I can’t get over the concept
of “long-throw LED lighting.” Luxeon
is getting ready to launch their new K2 series, which will
also be a one-watt, but it’s got double the efficiency.
So we’re starting to R&D with those K2 LEDs. I think
a lot of fixture manufacturers will be using that new lamp.
Besides the increasing popularity
of LEDs in architectural applications, how else do you expect
to see the technology used in nightclubs? Lighting
and video are getting closer and closer together. We also
have a low-res video wall that we sell through Acclaim, and
that’s called X-Curtain. The X-Curtain can actually
be mounted outside, so if you wanted to do a pseudo video
display outside of your club, you can do it with that.
What’s new with Elation’s
non-LED products? The hottest thing we’ve got
out right now is the Design Spot 250. It’s a spot and
a wash fixture in one housing. It has a variable frost that
can create a soft effect for washing a stage, as well as a
hard spot effect. It’s the only fixture on the market
in the 250W range that has an iris, variable frost, rotating
gobos, fixed gobos, colors, and a prism. We really put a lot
effects into one package.
This summer, we’re getting ready to launch our Power
Spot 700, which will be our brightest fixture. It’s
for larger clubs, and it’ll certainly be popular in
the production market, but it’s still a compact fixture.
It’s not huge, and it has a lot of features. There will
also be more products coming later this year in the Design
I notice that Elation has a fresh
scanner, the Vision Scan 250. Is it designed for different
applications than the Vision Scan 575, or can they be used
together? They can definitely complement each other.
It’s all about how you layer your lighting system. Obviously,
the Vision Scan 575 has more output, so you can mount it higher.
The rule of thumb on a 250-watt fixture is a throw of 20 feet
and under, while 575’s are 50 feet and under.
So the new scanner is better for
smaller rooms or lower ceilings. And the Vision Scan
250 pulls less power. It’s got a 3,000-hour lamp, which
is great, versus the Vision Scan 575, which has a 750-hour
lamp. You get some other advantages out of the Vision Scan
250. That lamp still has very high color temperature, so it’ll
still look very bright, but it pulls less power.
Club install is bright in scope.
Will scanners eventually be replaced
by moving head fixtures in nightclubs? Moving mirrors
can move much faster than moving heads. For a high-energy
dancefloor, you can do a lot of cool things with a moving
mirror that you can’t get with a moving head. Moving
heads have become more popular, but you still can’t
replace the speed and reliability of a moving mirror. You’re
moving less mass, so it’s going to be inherently more
We’re seeing more live performances in clubland lately,
and it’s nice to see intelligent color changers augmenting
or even replacing traditional PAR cans. Elation’s Stage
Color combines a classic PAR appearance with full, DMX-controlled
color mixing, and it’s very, very bright.
Elation introduced an “extra
special” special effect product this year. What can
you tell us about the Streamer, which you’ve licensed
from Kaos Lighting? We’ve been working on it
for a while with them, trying to put together the right package
at the right price. It’s definitely unique. It uses
LED technologies to drive fiber optics, and it’s designed
for the more intimate clubs. You need to have a pretty dark
area to display it in, but the amount of effects you can get
out of it is tremendous. From the static look, to when the
night gets going in the club or lounge, you can do a lot of
things. Also, while it is DMX, we have a special remote for
it. Some people might want to use it in its own dedicated
area, where you want to have control of it. If you rent out
a VIP room, you can even give the patrons some control over
Besides all of Elation’s new
and improved products, this Road Show program sounds interesting.
We’re only halfway into it right now. We go to Chicago
next week. I’m a big proponent of educating our customers
on how to use the products, how to maintain them, and how
to service them. Just like your car, you’ve got to maintain
It’s amazing what you can
do with a little compressed air once in a while.
Getting market feedback is really important to us, too, understanding
how our products are being used, what’s important to
the end-user, whether it’s a club owner, a production
company, or a mobile DJ, what’s important to them in
terms of features and benefits, and what they’re looking
for in a product.
Where’s Elation going from
here? Our goal is to become a leader supplier in
the club market. We’ve had a lot of success in the club
industry already, but we’re looking to increase our
brand awareness and prove that we’re dedicated to providing
the right products for this industry. Our other goal is to
be a complete supplier for our customers, so whether it’s
conventional lighting, LED lighting, fog machines, clamps,
cables, power distribution, we want to be a one-stop shop
for our dealers and our customers. If you’re a club
owner, and you’re dealing with 10 different vendors
on the manufacturing side, it can become a little challenging
to get serviced properly. We offer club owners a great return
on their investment, with products and a company they can
count on. While Elation is a fairly new brand in the lighting
world, the company has been around for eight years, and the
American DJ Group has been around for 25-plus years.