A rich tapestry of light woven into Irish history
Solus began manufacturing light bulbs at the old Solus bulb factory at Corke Abbey, Bray in 1935 and was officially declared open by Sean Lemass, Minister for Industry & Commerce and celebrated by Count John McCormack, Ireland’s best known tenor singer.
Solus were at the forefront of a new age of technology and a very new Ireland. The firm’s range of lamps included miniature candle lamps for churches, photographic bulbs, car lamps, lamps for radio dials, bulbs or torches, special neon displays and a wide range of domestic lamps. Some of these innovations at the time were so futuristic, that they seemed almost alien to an Ireland that still had the famine in her not-too-distant past.
Solus manufactured mercury discharge lamps used at the time for street lighting. These were also used in factories and boxing stadiums. Solus made the lamps used in all traffic signals in Dublin. As you can imagine, street lights altered the Ireland of the 1930s and 1940s in a remarkably dramatic way. In 1957 Solus sent a large consignment of light bulbs to America and also produced a lamp with the nickname ‘Glamour Lamp’. This lamp was used in theatrical venues and in the dressing rooms of the stars of stage and screen.
At peak production Solus employed 850 staff, mainly female.
Solus was one of the first companies to introduce recycling. If costumers returned one dozen lightbulbs, they were rewarded with 2d. if they returned the base with filament, they were rewardsed with 3d per dozen returned. The returns could be made to the factory at Corke Abbey or the company’s showrooms at 14 St Andrews Street, Dublin.
Today, Solus still remains at the forefront of technology, innovation and diversity and prides itself on being Ireland’s cleanest, greenest lighting company.
Reference The Little Book of Bray and Enniskerry by Brian White
When it all began. Solus was founded in 1935 and straight away was a winner of major public lighting contracts. Public lighting schemes demanded lamps of exceptional light giving quality and high burning hours. Solus rose to this challenge and exceeded these requirements. Solus delivered the highest quality lamps and most competitive price. Projects included the lighting of Dublinâ€™s Merrion Road and Dublinâ€™s Great White Way. By 1939 Solus supplied 95% of the Irish market as protection for home industries helps drive the business forward.
The great advance continues. Already known throughout Ireland for their great quality and value the team at SOLUS does not rest. Despite international disturbances and increase in raw materials, prices are reduced as production is increased. SOLUS continues to pass on the savings made to the end consumer. This means SOLUS lamps are not only high in quality but are also cheaper than their imported equivalents. SOLUS continue to be the market leader with over 95% of the Irish market.
The 1950s sees a new box. The chequered champion is born. Turnover continues to grow and Solus expands into the manufacture of neon signs. These new neon signs are used as signage for shop fronts and businesses. The lamps division continues to prosper. Licence agreements are signed with foreign companies to help improve processes through shared knowledge and allow the export channel to grow. The company helps to bring light to new countries.
1961 see Solus make its first step away from the lighting business. Solus sets up a telecommunications division which eventually grows to over 75% of the groupâ€™s turnover. The telecommunication business builds on the lamps export experience. This new side of the business grows exponentially and is export driven. This makes Solus one of Irelandâ€™s largest exporters. Other businesses are established including a plastic injection moulding and the acquisition of toy business. This helps increase output from the plastic division.. A road sign division utilises spare capacity in production staff to ensure there is no waste at Solus.
These new businesses make no change on the lamps division which has continued to develop over the years. Rationalisation and improvements in production efficiency have made the Solus bulb brighter and longer lasting than ever before.
Solus continues to expand and improve its product range. Already a major player in the plastic injection moulding it looks to acquire more businesses to replace its declining telecommunications business. Its latest acquisition includes a glazing company. This expands the companyâ€™s presence in the building related field. Solus is now involved in building material, plastic injection moulding, toys, television components, typewriter parts for IBM to name but a few.
The lighting business continues to prosper. Due to the decline in the building related industries which Solus is heavily involved in, the company suffers heavy losses. It is decided that the plastics division will be sold off to help stem losses. Unfortunately this is not enough and eventually all businesses are wound up. The bulb business is bought by a new group of investors and new investment is made. Solus lamps start a new chapter continuing to make life even brighter.
Life is even brighter. The start of the decade see the new Compact Fluorescent lamp (CFL) introduced to the Irish market by Solus. People can now make a saving of 80% on their lighting electricity by switching to new Solus CFLs. The product range continues to be improved and the range expanded. In the late 90s the company is bought by its present owner. Investments are made in improving the business. A new IT system is introduced to improve efficiencies and a new distribution model is developed. Customers now receive their order next working day, and improvements from the 3 week lead time. This new investment also drives new ranges and the halogen dichroic spot is introduced.
Solus continues to make life even brighter. The production process is improved and new efficiencies are found as the market turns toward environmentally friendly initiatives. Improvements are made in packaging where alternatives are found. Solus introduce the new eco blister. This is easily separated for recycling to ensure less is sent to land fill. The new Classic CFL is introduced. This CFL looks like a standard bulb and helps to dispel the myths of poor quality CFLs. Later, Solus introduces a full LED range to ensure like for like replacements for the older incandescent and halogen models. These are more efficient and look like the traditional light bulb.
A new era in service is introduced with Solus Direct. A van sales merchandising service is setup to provide retailers with a premium service. This service takes the complication out of all the new types of lamps being developed. The housing boom spurs demand for designer lamps, a move away from the traditional A shape GLS.
A new era is born. The EuP European directive calls time to the old incandescent and Halogen lamp. Solus rise to the challenge and are first to bring the new XCross Filament LED to the Irish market. Now consumers can make the switch to an environmentally friendly product that has the same characteristics as the old incandescent lamp.
Investments continue to be made and a new IT system is introduced. A revolutionary system is introduced which eliminates paper from the warehouse and sales operations. Data is sent seamlessly and live via broadband on mobile units and links between various sites. Solus also achieve the ISO 9001:2008 and later ISO 9001:2015, a further commitment to delivering a quality service and product.