New Fluence COO Looks Forward to Helping Greenhouse Growers Transition to LEDs
Fluence Bioengineering Inc., which creates energy-efficient LED lighting solutions for commercial crop production and research applications, recently named David Cohen as its new Chief Operating Officer. Cohen will lead the Fluence Marketing, Sales, and Operations teams, and he will focus on the creation and execution of a global growth strategy, along with defining and executing the digitization strategy for Fluence.
“David will be an integral part of Fluence’s growth trajectory as the company expands to become the global leader of the horticultural lighting industry,” says Nick Klase, CEO and Co-Founder of Fluence Bioengineering. “David’s experience in directing high-growth products in the LED lighting industry will ensure Fluence anticipates and addresses developing trends in food and cannabis production around the world.”
Cohen has extensive leadership experience in the lighting industry. His most recent position was General Manager and CEO of Schréder Lighting U.S.A. Prior to that position, David was the general manager of Future Electronics’ lighting business in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, while based in London.
“I am excited to be joining Fluence at this critical time to drive global expansion,” says Cohen. “As Fluence refines its expertise in plant photobiology to address the escalating demand for natural food and medicine, I will be making sure we reach as many customers as possible around the world.”
Greenhouse Grower recently caught up with Cohen and asked him about his new role.
Greenhouse Grower (GG): How did your previous experience prepare you for this new role?
David Cohen: I have been involved in LED lighting since high powered LEDs were introduced to the market in early 2000. I started in LED components and worked international assignments in Asia and Europe and eventually oversaw the production of finished fixtures. I have learned a lot about global customers and channels to markets, along with growing high-performing organizations.
GG: What are the some of the biggest issues or concerns you’ve heard from the growers you work with, and how do you plan to help them deal with these issues?
Cohen: In looking at this market, I think it is critical that we help growers address issues around seasonality, so they can grow year-round. I believe Fluence must work to ensure growers understand how LED technology today has matured and is now suitable for horticulture. My teams will help customers with understanding the full-system changes required when switching from HPS to LED, such as adjusting CO2, HVAC, and monitoring leaf surface temperatures. Fluence will provide all the cultivation support needed to drive these changes, and this is under my direct purview.
GG: What are the biggest challenges this industry is currently facing? Conversely, what are some of the biggest opportunities on the horizon?
Cohen: In terms of challenges, the need to reduce natural resource inputs while increasing crop output would be right at the top. It is very important to ensure plant consistency and quality in a time where climate change is affecting the ability of growers to predictably anticipate production, and be cognizant of competition from other growers reducing profits, which then causes growers to worry about investing for the future.
As the restrictions on cannabis continue to drop, there are many opportunities for the entire horticulture industry to mature. And as technological digitization advances, this will enable cultivators to gain a more finite control over growing conditions and increase productivity, which will in-turn, increase profits. While adoption of digitization has been slow, this is an area of great opportunity.
GG: Looking ahead, what role can you play in moving this industry forward?
Cohen: With OSRAM’s acquisition of Fluence (https://www.greenhousegrower.com/technology/lighting-innovator-fluence-bioengineering-acquired-by-osram/), we have the resources in lighting and communications to maximize opportunities for our customers. I believe my experience scaling companies in markets around the world will help position Fluence to be a global player and bring the best technology to the horticulture industry.
GG: How will Fluence’s recent acquisition by Osram influence new technology development at Fluence moving forward?
Cohen: OSRAM is fully committed to the horticulture market, and the company is actively investing in new products and technology. The resources OSRAM brings to the leadership position Fluence already enjoys allows Fluence to quickly push product and technology developments, while integrating best-in-class lighting technology with world-class communications development and put Fluence in a position to leverage OSRAM’s strengths in IoT. In my view, it is the perfect match.
GG: If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be doing?
Cohen: I always wanted to be a lawyer. I love to look at things from all sides, I just couldn’t handle all the reading.