People in Lighting: John Camp

John Camp - National Sales Manager - Schréder USA
John Camp
Tunnel/Transit Business Segment Manager - Schréder Lighting LLC

Companies are defined by the people who work for them: for over a century, Schréder has been at the forefront of lighting thanks to its employees worldwide. Throughout 2022 we’ll be focusing on the people who make Schréder what it is, including their career path, landmark projects and their thoughts on where lighting is headed next.

Over the decades, Schréder has built up its presence in the US, first through a joint venture with Lumec Schréder and then through its North America unit, developing a strong reputation in niche markets, including tunnels and transport, sports venues, and Smart Cities. John Camp recently became Business Segment Leader for Tunnel and Transit, bringing years of lighting expertise back to the company - he previously worked for Schréder from 2007 to 2014. With ambitious plans for expansion, a passion for ice hockey and real enthusiasm for engineering, he sees the light at the end of the tunnel - and all the way through it, as well. 


I’m delighted to be back…

I’ve been associated with the Schréder Group since the mid-nineties. I previously owned an agency in Philadelphia that was a representative for the company in North America, and through that I came to meet Francis Schréder and became very fond of the company and the people. When they set up the US company in Chicago, I came in as National Sales Manager before taking over as General Manager. We started from nothing and built it up.

Now I’ve got a sense of unfinished business…

I’m always trying to take the next challenge on, that’s how I thrive. So when the opportunity came to return, I did a six month consultancy and saw we had these great opportunities in the tunnel, transit and sports verticals. For me, now, it’s personal - I’m at a stage in my career where I want to go out with a final success story. I’m establishing the brand, we’ve already secured some orders and I’ve got our products into some great projects.

It’s a great time to be lighting infrastructure projects…

President Biden has put his infrastructure plan in place, which will offer billions of dollars for bridges and highways, and a timely moment for us. And we’re so strong in this area: we lit the Carlin Tunnel, the first LED tunnel in the USA, and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, which was a huge project after the 2012 floods.

John Camp worked on relighting Queens-Midtown Tunnel with the latest technology after the floods in 2012

Still, it’s not a uniform market: there’s 50 states opening up from COVID restrictions at different paces, and each one has its own Department of Transportation setting the requirements for everything from photometry to how products are built. That’s something we can adapt to, for example, certain states require tunnel lighting to be made of stainless steel, so we made the TFLEX available in it.

And I’m really proud of our work so far…

We’ve been working with Amtrak since the days of fluorescent technology. We did the Philadelphia 30th Street Station platform lighting: I went back there recently, just to check in, and we went down to one of the original fluorescent installations. They opened it up and there wasn't a spot of dust in there. They were thrilled: it really was phenomenally well built! It’s why I’m so excited to be back: there’s a real pride walking into an engineer’s office with the Schréder pin on your lapel, knowing that we’re globally recognised as a confident source of knowledge.

Schréder has a real family atmosphere…

I’ve always felt a bond with the company. When I was gone I missed it, I missed the people I was dealing with, both here and in Belgium. The family is great, and Francis Schréder is the salt of the earth. I’m honoured he picked me to do this - we’re already expanding the team. I’m based in Athens, Georgia, with a nationwide team that meets in person every six weeks or so. We’re building the team up so we can make the most of our expertise in areas including the SHUFFLE, smart cities and sports lighting.

Maverick Centre is one of the USA's sport lighting projects that shows Schréder's expertise

Managing a team is like coaching sports…

I’m the head coach of the men’s ice hockey team at the University of Georgia. I was playing until I was 55. There’s a lot of correlation between coaching a sports team and business, in the sense of building a team and optimising everyone’s talents. I’ve always looked at myself as more of a consultant than a salesperson - it’s about solving a problem, or meeting a specified need, for the customer. And doing that well depends on the breadth of the product portfolio and the confidence you have, along with the team behind you. 

I’m passing that enthusiasm on to my students…

Part of my role is recruiting students for the university ice hockey team, and I’ve noticed that students and their parents increasingly care about safety and sustainability - both issues that lighting can affect. I share my enthusiasm with them - I have a small mobile office at the front of the bus we use to travel to games, and the team is always asking what I’m up to! 

In addition, the University of Georgia Student Industry Fellows program in association with the University’s Innovation Lab will be working on a program using the SHUFFLE. We’re hoping to use the experiential learning program as a way for students to explore the possibilities, use the campus as a think tank, and think about what lighting can do for us here.

And building a legacy for the future…

Schréder has always been at the forefront of lighting technology. We were the global leader on reflectors, the first to bring Ingress Protection (IP) levels to the North American market, and now we’re setting standards again with IK ratings, which show how resistant our products are to impact. I’m really excited about continuing that legacy with smart controls, tunnel lighting and the SHUFFLE. For me, it really is unfinished business - we have so much to offer customers, and now is the perfect time.

Connect with John on LinkedIn