Willem Frederick Ludwick, known in the industry as ‘Wimpie’, is the general manager of BEKA Schreder, a company he has worked at for over 18 years. In this time, he has witnessed many changes in the world of lighting, and believes that one of the biggest challenges currently facing the industry is regulation, or lack thereof.
Sparks: Where were you educated?
WL: After completing my secondary education in Pretoria, I attended Tshwane University of Technology where I obtained a four year Electrical Engineering Qualification in 1990.
Sparks: How long have you been involved in the electrical industry?
WL: 34 years.
Sparks: What is your career history?
WL: My career began as an Engineering Technician in the Public Sector, where I worked for seven years, resigning as a Senior Engineering Technician. I joined BEKA Schreder in 1995 as a Sales Engineer, working myself up to the position of Regional Manager after two years, a position I held for nine years. I then accepted the offer to join an electrical contracting company as General Manager. After almost six years, I returned to BEKA Schreder in 2013, as the National Sales Manager SA, and Market Development Manager for Australia and New Zealand. I have held my current position of General Manager since April 2016.
Sparks: What are the greatest changes you have seen over the years?
WL: The outdoor lighting market has gone through dramatic changes, not only in the technology space, but also among decision makers. In addition, market requirements and go-to market strategies need to be reviewed regularly in order to stay ahead in our ever-changing environment. LED has completely changed the face of outdoor lighting during the last few years.
The perception of outdoor lighting, opportunities and the IoT technology have changed. Lighting is no longer only a means of lighting up an installation, but plays a major role in the Smart City environment, enabling communication on different levels between different devices.
Sparks: What major projects have you worked on and what is your greatest accomplishment?
WL: I have to say that I have been involved in so many interesting projects, each with its own challenges and outcomes that it is really difficult to mention a few. If you enjoy what you do, you give it your all and seem to remember every project undertaken with every customer or decision maker. Sport stadiums, industrial installations and IoT installations using LED technology seem always to impress and have a lasting effect.
Sparks: Who has been your inspiration or have you had a mentor who has influenced your career?
WL: I enjoy people and constantly try and take the best practices from various leaders, mentors, colleagues and customers. My team and staff motivate me. I really appreciate all the support from my family, friends and colleagues. Johann Schleritzko introduced me to lighting many years ago and Carl Watson has played a vital role during the past five years.
Sparks: What do you believe is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry at this time?
WL: Our industry has become somewhat fragmented in the past few years. I have also noted that we seem to have more and more decision makers changing positions frequently. One of the biggest challenges facing our industry is regulation, or lack thereof. Quality, specifications, local contribution and return on investment are some of the key points to consider. It is important that we keep up with the latest technology and trends and be agile enough to survive in today’s business environment.
Sparks: What do you enjoy most about your job?
WL: My job! I love challenges, technology, lighting and people. What more could you ask for?
Sparks: How do you motivate your staff?
WL: I believe in people and teamwork. I believe that everyone has the responsibility to do his part to achieve more together. I’m consistent, honest and trustworthy and believe in integrity and I expect the same from my employees. I focus on set goals rather than the day-to-day issues and I believe I’m a strategist and planner, utilising the best that people have to offer in order to reach my goals.
Sparks: If you could 'do it all again', would you change anything?
WL: I’m really satisfied with my career but if I have to be critical, I would have entered the private sector and international market at a younger age.
Sparks: Would you advise a person leaving school to enter the electrical industry? And why?
WL: Definitely! It is an ever-changing and challenging industry which will always be in demand.
Sparks: What is your advice to electrical contractors and/or electrical engineers?
WL: This is a difficult and unfair question. I would not like to give anycontractor or engineer advice. I’m sure they know more than I do.
Sparks: What is your favourite quote?
WL: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Sparks: Name three things on your ‘bucket list’.
WL: A nice long trip back to Argentina, spending time in Patagonia; spending time in Iceland; and seeing my grandkids grow up.