60 seconds with Mick Slein, Founding Director and CEO of LED Group Robus

Founded in 1984, LED Group Robus is headquartered in Dublin and has branch offices in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Guangzhou. The Australasia office was founded in Brisbane in 2010 and quickly became an important part of the company. Two years later, in 2012, New Zealand was added to the company map. Due to rapid growth in Australia, distribution centres were opened in Perth and Sydney in 2016, further cementing LED Group Robus’ investment in the region. LED Group Robus embrace emerging technologies, creating enduring products with low energy, low maintenance, outstanding performance and return on investment.

Mick Slein, Founding Director and CEO of LED Robus

Mick, what first motivated you to establish LED Group Robus?

Two school friends of mine had a lighting business and they received a new agency which they were so excited about, that they decided to set up a separate company to market this product in Ireland.  They invited me to join as Sales Director, which I obviously jumped at.  Unfortunately the product never sold and we were nearly out of business before we were in business.

However we were fortunate enough to acquire 2 other agencies and this allowed us to survive and ultimately thrive.

LED Group Robus turned 34 this year and since its foundation has grown rapidly into new international markets. How has the company adapted to thrive across different markets?

The key thing for us when entering new international markets is for us to have people working in these markets that absolutely mirror the values of the group. These are, Ambition, Accountability, Empowerment, Customer Focus and Fast Pace.  It is my experience that culture fit is far more important than skill set fit. Culture fit cannot be taught.

The lighting industry has changed dramatically in recent years. What do you see as the major trends facing this sector over the next five years? 

Everything today and indeed for the last 7-10 years has been about LED Technology and this is continuing to develop at an extremely rapid pace.  This linked with global focus on green technology has meant there is a fantastic market for LED lighting.  I don’t see this trend changing over the next 5 years.

Mick Slein pictured with his family after being honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Electrical Industry Awards 2018 held on 21st September in Dublin, Ireland.


What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

The main skillset I believe I personally have is, having the ability to attract great people to join our company.  In 1990 I bought out my original 2 partners and at that stage we were turning over less than IR£1m. However I managed to attract the Finance Director from the largest company in the industry at that time, GEC distributors, who were turning over IR£26m

He was the 2nd in command and on the main board of directors, the equivalent of getting Lionel Messi to move from Barcelona to St Pauls college!  (a soccer team I previously managed).

More and more Irish firms are looking to Australia as a priority market, what do you put this down to? 

One of biggest attractions is language and also there is similar culture in Australia to Ireland.  Also the Australian people have a great love of the Irish race and are very receptive to doing business with Irish companies

If you were to start your career over, what advice would you give yourself?

If I was to start over again  I would spend much more time doing planning and strategic work as I fully understand the key importance of this.

However when you start a new business you are so operational and doing so much stuff yourself this can be quite difficult at times.

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

By having a management style of openness and transparency, with everyone in the organisation being crystal clear of what the goals for the business are and what the long term vision is.

If you could step into the shoes of one business person for the day, who would it be and why? 

Michael O’Leary, to try to understand how he manages to find the balance between acting like a dictator and yet be a great team leader

Finally, if you could invite three people to dinner who would they be and why?

Roy Keane and Jim Gavin in order to observe the 2 critically different management styles.  In order to keep my wife interested and happy, the Dali Lama.




For further information:

Contact: Catherine Hughes

Email: catherine.hughes@enterprise-ireland.com

Leave a Reply