It is a sad day… not because of any terrorist act or ex President passing. No, not that kind of sad – but more sad to me personally because of my background with a particular company.Anyone who knows me probably knows that I got my real “start” in this business with Martin Professional. First – as one of their largest customers in the late 80’s but then – as Director, then VP of Sales and Marketing through their early years. I spent 6 or 7 great years at Martin and was proud to be a part of them becoming the huge enterprise they’ve since become.Early in my tenure at Martin, I made a couple of close friends, and confidants. The first, Troels Volver recently left Martin in a bit of a management “shake up”. I think Troels is a great guy, and was a big part of their success here in the US market recently. It really wasn’t a fluke that Martin was more successful int he US than they were in other markets. While making money here, they seemed to be in a hurry to lose it everywhere else.Anyway, with Troels leaving, at least I was still able to look to the top and see a familiar face in a person I helped bring into the company, and worked closely with for several years. Well, yesterday that changed when Eric Loader decided to step down from his position as VP of Sales. I am friends with Eric, and have spoken with him concerning this decision, but at the same time, to me, it’s the end of a very successful era in the history of Martin Professional.What does it all mean? To me, it’s got to do with the Danish leadership. It seems that they’re content to continue inputing Danes in all of the world’s important positions. Unless you are a Dane, you don’t seem to fit into their long term scheme. I am not suggesting Martin’s future will be anything less than spectacular, but from my view, it’s a place which will be missing some of their heart and soul in the short term.None of the “leadership” were there in the early years. I remember well the days when we (Eric, Myself AND Troels) stood shoulder to shoulder and with great confidence, sold Roboscan 1220s when the world clearly wanted Cyberlights. Sure, the 1220 wasn’t anywhere near as good as a Cyber, but it was all we had – and we sold a whole bunch! Do the current Danish leadership know that? Why certainly not. I remember going to Las Vegas and putting on a big open house with a show designed by Mike Ledesma. Yes – Eric was there as well.. We were introducing our wonderful new light, the MAC1200. In fact, it wasn’t so wonderful, and was double the size of anything the world really wanted, however – we stood strong, and sold almost 200 fixtures just from that show!Now, Martin have an EXCELLENT product line, but with the huge moves by Varilite and up and comer Robe, will Martin still have the Heart and Soul that we had in those early years to be able to withstand the market pressure? Is there anyone who will stand up and say “yes Mr Designer – I know the VL3000 is a great light, but with Martin, we will work MUCH harder to make you happy. We want your business more!”. I just don’t see it. I think that Troels and Eric will be sorely missed in the Martin US organization. I personally looked at Eric as a “lifer”, someone who would spend his entire career at Martin, and would eventually even move to Denmark as CEO or something. He’s just that kinda guy – loyal, sometimes even to his fault!There are still some good people at Martin, don’t get me wrong. As I said, they’re a huge company and one that will surely continue making bold moves to expand their market share. I just think they’ve made moves to flatten the organization into one that has less personality. At the end of the day, this is a business created by, and held strong by personalities. Trust me – I’ve made a career on being one of them!