Highlight For Buy-Low

by Katie Lee

With a strong commitment to its customers, Buy-Low Foods installed reliable, energy-efficient LED lighting that helped enhance both the shopper experience and Buy-Low’s bottom line.

By Bryan Charlebois

Originally founded in 1966, Buy-Low Foods is now the largest food wholesale distributor to independent grocers in Western Canada, servicing nearly 1,900 wholesale customers through its Associated Grocers and Van-Whole Produce divisions. With 35 corporate stores and two franchise stores, Buy-Low Foods also provides fresh produce; fine cuts of meats and national brand products directly to consumers. Although each of these stores are unique, they all share a common commitment to deliver quality products at low, low prices while providing a great customer experience.

Cree Retail BuyLow LangdonAB 04 mrWhile designing a new store build, and with a focus on value, Louie Pulice, business development coordinator for Buy-Low Foods, began looking for lighting solutions to make the new Langdon, Alberta, store as cost-efficient as possible, without sacrificing the shopper experience. He worked with an electrical designer, Dan Melchior, to develop a lighting plan that would meet Buy Low Foods’ lighting standards while lowering operation costs.


Melchior, project manager – electrical of Smith & Andersen, chose LED lighting after having a conversation with his sales agent, Bryan Lortie from CDm2 LIGHTWORKS. After Lortie introduced a proprietary LED product line, Melchior developed his lighting design primarily with LED lighting.

“I’ve used alternate manufacturers for site lighting on other projects, but I‘m now convinced that [this] variety of LED packages and warranty knocks all of the competitors off the map. [They] provide a 10-year warranty on their products, which is double what other manufacturers provide,” says Melchior.

Melchior selected suspended ambient luminaires down the aisles and troffers in the deli/bakery areas and offices. Both products feature an ideal combination of efficacy, 90+ CRI and consistent color temperatures. There are surface ambient luminaires inside the freezers and coolers, and high output area luminaires in the Cree Retail BuyLow LangdonAB 18 mrparking lot.

With a plan ready, the next step was to present the plan, product samples, photometric data and the payback analysis comparing the traditional technology versus modern LED technology to the Buy-Low’s development team. Everyone was surprised to see a 3-year payback, and were pleased that they had found a viable LED lighting solution.


Bringing in an electrician to Buy-Low Foods stores could cost up to $2,000 per visit. By installing LED lighting, Buy-Low Foods is expected to save more than $8,700 in annual maintenance costs.

As a designer, it only makes sense with the rising costs of electricity to choose products that will save the owners money in the long term,” Melchior adds, “as well as the inherent cost savings from the maintenance side which is a huge part of their operating costs.” Plus, with a 10-year limited warranty, you don’t have to worry about changing a light.

Pulice had someone knocking on his door trying to sell him LED lighting daily, and they often promised him the lowest price and a 10-year warranty. He questioned what kind of recourse he would really have. If there were challenges or issues, would he have somewhere to go? What he chose is not the cheapest solution out there, but if they were going to put in an investment of that size, by doing an entire store, he needed to be sure that he was dealing with a reliable manufacturer.

“I’m confident that I made the right choice. Since the opening in 2014, we haven’t had an issue, and we were really pleased with the end result,” says Pulice.

The end result is high performing, beautiful white light that can dramatically improve the visual appearance of fruits, vegetables and meats. The LEDs deliver 90+ CRI, high R9 values, and accurate and consistent color — all while offering significant energy savings compared to traditional technologies.

From Melchior’s view, “The quality of light is non-intrusive and the diffusers provide a soft, even distribution down the aisles.  I challenge any indirect traditional luminaire to do better.”

“When we built the store and opened it up, there were a lot of comments on how comfortable it was,” Pulice adds. “In the past, when you looked up at LED, it blinded you. With [these], people seem to really like the light level, and has a comfortable shopping experience. Even at night, it’s really impressive.”

The Langdon location set a trend for Buy-Low Foods. The company upgraded the Buy-Low Foods in Clearwater, Florida, and a Meinhardt Fine Foods with LED lighting. Plus, it is looking to upgrade three Nesters Market stores to LED lighting in 2017.


— Bryan Charlebois is vice president of sales for Cree Canada, a market-leading innovator of lighting-class LEDs, lighting products and semiconductor products for power and radio frequency (RF) applications. For more information, visit www.cree.com.

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