Nick Freed and Inner Circle help revitalize Coemar stateside.
Freed's serious face.
By Chrissi Mark
Nick Freed is thinking big. The 32-year-old, 12-year vet of the lighting industry just doubled the space of his company, Inner Circle Distribution (icd-usa.com), and moved it to the end of South Floridaís lighting strip, also home to Martin Professional, Robe and Chauvet. Through Italian lighting manufacturer Coemar, of which ICD is sole U.S. distributor, Freedís got potentially industry-changing technology to reveal at the Lighting Dimensions International (LDI) trade show, held this October in Las Vegas. And to do so, heís opted for a large, flashy LDI presence, showcasing crown jewel Coemar, plus other ICD companies Main Light (LED curtains; mainlight.com) and Compulite (lighting controllers; compulite.com).
With partners Gary Mass (CAD guru) and Noel Duncan (service and support expert), Freedís goal is to make Coemar more accessible and trusted in the U.S. The trio spent an entire year researching and experiencing the Coemar process before taking on active distribution Ė a rare show of dedication and integration for a distributor.
Club Systems caught up with Freed as he prepared for MTVís Video Music Awards on August 30, where Coemar fixtures were used to light the show inside Radio City Music Hall, as well as the lustrous red carpet outside.
Coemar skipped showing at London trade show PLASA
this year. Why? That was a big decision for Coemar,
because they were very worried that people would think that
they werenít doing well, which is exactly the opposite. Theyíre
doing better than they have in a good five or six years; theyíre
on a big upswing. But we wanted to be able to ship what they
sell at LDI. We feel like weíll sell a lot of lights at LDI,
because this particular wash light is so phenomenal.
Tell us about it. Itís a big-time wash light
in the new Infinity Series. Itís a new quick-fit Gold Series
1450-Watt Philips lamp. There are a couple new things in this
light that are totally different from anything Iíve ever seen
before in moving lights.
Which are? Iím not sure I can say. But I
will tell you this, theyíve taken color mixing to the next
level. Itís so simple, but incredibly inventive. I canít even
explain what that will do for color mixing in lighting fixtures.
Itís patented, so Iím not too worried about it.
So then you can tell us. Itís basically what
we call a CMYS system.
S? The S is not an extra flag; itís how they
move inside. Itís an incredible system. We really want to
unveil that at LDI and make it something where people open
it up and go wow.
Coemar's ParLite LEDs in action.
Are they going to make a smaller version as well?
Weíll have a line of products, the Infinity line. You see
[High End Systems] xSpots, [Martin Professional] MAC 2000s
in the big clubs. This will be along those lines. Once we
build the hard edge to match the wash, that will go into clubs
and itíll be the big ďwowĒ light.
This is all part of a calculated, concentrated effort with Coemar to become a good U.S. supplier, a manufacturer that people look at as really concentrating on the U.S. Hereís a good example: Our new mini strip LED, the StripLite LED, is four feet long. Itís not a meter. Itís not one meter 3.5 centimeters. Over here [in the US] strip lights are four-foot, six-foot, eight-foot. We measure in feet. Itís little things like that [that are] majorly important.
Coemar focuses on big productions and tours, but with
todayís nightclubs multi-tasking with live shows and corporate
events, is there more crossover than ever? The production
market leads where the club market goes.
Our focus is towards this production market because we feel thatís whatís going to break it, and break it open for clubs to follow.
People look through magazines or watch TV, and when they see a certain light on TV they say, wow thatís cool, that would look good in my club. Advanced club designers are designing around lights that they see in big shows, making the club a bigger show.
Tell me a little bit more about your company, and
about your relationship with Coemar. All three partners
in ICD worked for Martin [Professional] at one time. Weíve
all been friends for quite a long time, and weíre all getting
to the point in our career where we wanted to start something
together: We wanted to make our own company; get in the distribution
business. So we looked into a few manufacturers.
We went for Coemar first because we felt like their R&D department was top of the line. These guys can build beautiful equipment; theyíre inventive, incredibly cutting edge. In Italy [manufacturing] is quaint, itís much more hands-on. Their minds over there are so creative, and thatís what attracted us to them. You really donít have to have a fancy factory to invent something cool.
So how did that lead to the creation of ICD, and your
companyís role as Coemarís sole U.S. distributor?
When we were sitting on my patio discussing what we wanted
to do and who we wanted to distribute, we looked at Coemar
with the most seriousness. We thought that they were in dire
need of a good distributor, and we felt we had the team of
people to do it for them. They needed turnaround and personality
here in the States more than anything.
So we opened ICD in January of 2005, and made a deal to distribute the products in a year to 18 months, and to work for [Coemar] for the first year. At that point, [we wanted to] basically do everything we could within their system. Learn the system; learn about the people who were involved; learn how they interact with Mezzanine Management, their financial company; and try to get a good grasp on how to go about this when we broke off as a traditional distribution setup. That went really well. It was a tough year, but we got our ground work done.
It was so recently. This all happened the
last couple years. Two years ago today Coemar was a tough
sell, no doubt about it.
And now youíre at the MTVís VMA show. Now
we have lights all over. And Coemar actually turned us on
to [Israeli lighting controller manufacturer] Compulite, who
are absolutely wonderful, incredible people to deal with.
Theyíre so on top of their game. We had also been doing a
little bit of business here and there with Main Light on their
LED curtains, when we decided to make it official about five
Youíve described Coemarís line of LEDs as practical.
How so? By that I mean the ParLite LED is made to
replace a PAR. Itís not to be an effect, or to run video through,
itís made to project light in a good quality and color mix.
The PinLite LED is very much the same thing; itís made to
replace a pin spot. [For a show] you have certain conventional
elements you canít get rid of, so weíre really attacking the
elements that you can replace with LED technology.
And the ParLite LED light is already in a lot of clubs?
Absolutely. I get pictures from dealers, ďHey, look what we
did with the Par this time.Ē
So do you think the days of PAR are numbered?
Yes, absolutely. There are tons of all intelligent rigs out
Coemar gives big trussing a big glow.
In strictly dance clubs sure, but what about venues
with musicians on stage? Do you think PAR cans will disappear
from live clubs as well? The safety factor is the
only reason theyíre still around. Itís not any cheaper right
now to buy conventionals, because youíve got dimming, cable,
and a conventional console to go along with your moving light
console or converter box. Our LED PAR Ė typically on the street
youíre buying it for around $1,200 Ė does color mixing, and
is rated for 100,000 hours, but who knows how long it lasts
because nobodyís had it for 100,000 hours yet. Itís probably
eight to 10 years that youíre not buying another piece of
equipment. And theyíre just absolutely gorgeous lights.
And what about the fixture? Thatís the big
difference between our light and most of the other LED fixtures:
We wanted to make sure it looked like a light, instead of
The little nuances about that light have been what really sold it. Itís got a little under yolk that comes out so you can floor-stand it without having an actual floor-stand mounted to it. Plus, the output is great. Itís a great light, no doubt about it. It was the light that helped turn Coemar from a fairly dormant manufacturer in the industry to being OK to use again.
We were going to ask about the 1200-Watt iSpot, butÖ
I probably wouldnít need to tell you anything about that light.
I think the Infinity Series will take over our iSpot and iWash
makes. Those fixtures had their run, and did very well. But
right now the Infinity Series is our total focus in that range
of products. Shortly after the wash, weíll have the spot.
We believe in this light big-time, as you can tell. We believe
it will change Coemar.