By Graham Eales.
Jeremy Collins started as a lighting designer and theatre technician in NZ after completing a history degree. He worked primarily at the Mercury Theatre and on large musicals and operas. He travelled to the UK with a British Council grant to learn more about lighting design.
In the early 80’s when he came back to NZ he joined Selecon Reid which had just started building luminaires for a schools government supply contract. He developed the first offshore sales in Australia and S.E Asia. Selecon was bought by Jeremy and his business partner Andrew Nichols in 1985. He continued working as an LD during this time.
Once he had bought Selecon he quickly expanded it into a leading manufacturer. By the end of the 90s over 97% of its output was exported. Apart from theatrical luminaires Jeremy had a passion for specialist display lighting for museums, art galleries etc. This lead to Selecon developing a range of display luminaires. This was largely driven as a result of Jeremy lighting the NZ Pavilion at the ’88 Brisbane Expo.
Australia was a big part of Selecon’s success and Jeremy was always proud of the fact that all the major theatres and museums in Australia had Selecon product in them.
The company was sold to Philips in 2009 and in 2011 he retired. After he left Selecon he was involved in several businesses and in mentoring startups.
The primary one was Footfalls and Heartbeats (http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/small-business/9461537/Start-up-senses-opportunity-with-smart-fabric ).
He leaves his wife Lindsay, daughter Hannah and son Joe. I think he was 64 years old but I maybe a year out either way.
A service will be held at 1pm on Thursday 26 July at the Milford Cruising Club, 24 Craig Rd, Milford.
Personally for me he was one of the true gentlemen of industry, he always took time to talk to people whether it was a name lighting designer or a first year student. He was passionate about our industry and its people. The Selecon staff were incredibly loyal to him, I think when Philips finally shut it down the average length of service for staff was 15 years plus. Some had been there for over 25 years. What I particularly respected about him was the way he treated all as equals, never did I hear him refer to anyone as other than a colleague whether they were the Accountant or a hand on the production line.
• Julius Grafton writes: I had many years working with Jeremy as the inaugural Australian distributor of Selecon. I have fond memories of his integrity, character, and passion for the industry. I am sad that I didn’t catch up with him after he sold out to Philips.
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