On Wednesday, February 10
, our industry lost one of its brightest personalities. Nathan "Sonny" Sonnenfeld passed away at the age of 96, closing out one of the longest and most influential careers in the business. Sonnenfeld spent more than eight years as a consultant at ETC, sharing his expertise in the field he helped establish. In 2003, ETC CEO Fred Foster had the honor of introducing Sonnenfeld at the LDI tradeshow, when he was honored for his outstanding contributions to the industry.
Here, Foster reflects on Sonnenfeld's accomplishments and the impact he had on the lighting world:
He cared about lighting, he cared about business, but most of all, Sonny cared about his customers. When I first heard about him from ETC Vice President of Sales Mark Vassallo (then a rep for ETC), his stories and lessons about selling focused on the customer. From before he formally became part of ETC, and well after he "retired" for the first time, everyone who knew him would tell of a lesson that they had learned from him.
To be honest, sometimes we thought that he cared too much about
business. His long, handwritten letters telling us how we should be doing things became tedious at times, but if we didn't read them and consider what he was saying, we would be the worse for it!
Sonny's care for his customers was returned to him many times over. There were consultants who would only specify what Sonny sold. This was not because of any underhanded maneuver on Sonny's part; it was because they had proof over the years that he would take care of them if anything went wrong on a job. Sonny didn't buy this loyalty. He earned it. And he taught a lot of us how important it is to take care of customers.
So, while Sonny is gone, his spirit will live on through those of us who knew him, those of us who learned from him. Thanks, Sonny!