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Interview with Narva's Jake Smith

By 4x4 Australia, 09 Apr 2019 Opinion

Interview with Narva Jake Smith opinion

Jake Smith has been an integral cog of the lighting giant for nearly 12 years, and he showcases Narva's lights every time he heads bush.

I CAN STILL remember my very first day walking through the doors of Narva more than 11 years ago.

My wife Esther and I had just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip where we took 12 months out of the daily grind, hooked up the camper trailer to our trusty Pov-Pack 100 Series 1HZ Land Cruiser, and threw ourselves into the most epic 40,000km adventure around this awesome country.

We more or less stuck to the coast and headed up the east coast to take in the usual iconic locations including Cape York, Savannah Way, Gibb River Road and Cape Leveque. The trip made the ‘Oz Lap Bug’ stronger, so we may have another one up our sleeve.

Narva life started in the marketing team, and four years later I stepped into the Product Development team where I spent a further three years. A few changes with new opportunities and people moving around saw the chance to jump back into marketing and this time in the position I sit in today: Marketing Manager.

To this day the trip around Australia helps me in the role, as I appreciate what our customers are doing with our product and, more importantly, what is expected of it. Touring remote, tough locations is when you truly appreciate quality products versus cheaper alternatives.

At Narva we cover many different sectors within the automotive industry, from 4x4 (my passion), caravan and RV, transport, marine, mining and so on; so we are always dealing with an exciting range of product, people and projects.

A usual day can consist of new product package development and design, advertising campaigns, organising a range of different trade show stands across the aforementioned sectors, photo shoots in the studio and in the field, and product catalogue creation – the new Narva catalogue currently underway is just shy of 600 pages, which is massive.

There’s also an ever-growing and major focus on digital marketing and website management, as well as retail merchandising of projects for instore presentations. The list goes on and there’s never a dull moment.

On the odd occasion, I’ll also find myself sitting behind the wheel of our Narva 4x4 on 4x4 trips or product shoots, flying the flag for Narva. The most recent was an epic trip to the Vic High Country with 4X4 Australia and a host of the industry’s best.

A recent stand-out project was delving into the world of virtual reality (VR). A huge bugbear of trying to sell driving lights is that you’re often doing it during the day. Turning a light on in a showroom or at a tradeshow doesn’t do much for giving the punter a true idea of how impressive a driving light or light bar is.

So, we partnered with a company whereby the end goal was to enable our customers to experience all our different offerings from the comfort of their home, office or local retail store. With huge planning, special vehicle-mounting jigs and camera gear you’d expect to see on a Hollywood movie set, we achieved the goal. 

To check out the experience, visit: www.narva.com.au/vrexperience

If you have a set of VR goggles – even the cardboard ones – simply use your mobile phone, slot it into the headset and become immersed in a virtual world where you’re a passenger in the Narva 4x4 driven by yours truly. From here you can choose between nine different driving lights and light bars, along with three different terrain types: highway, dirt and a 4x4 track. You have total control of choosing the light and the preferred terrain you wish to experience.

The 4x4 industry is ever-changing; you can’t sit still or you’ll fall too far behind and struggle to catch up. This is especially true in the lighting game, as technology, particularly in the LED space, is advancing by the minute. ‘Innovation’ is the buzzword at Narva.

To stay at the pointy end we take this seriously, hence why we have near a dozen people in our product development team, consisting of six or so engineering boffins specialising in different fields designing new products from the ground up, in-house. We also have the same number of product category managers who constantly source new and exciting product and technologies throughout the globe.

Adding to this, we have a state-of-the-art facility in Melbourne consisting of a host of environmental test chambers, an electrical test laboratory and our photometric laboratory. It enables us to torture test our product to levels well above real-world experience.

How could you not be excited to be a part of this ever-changing industry, with great likeminded and passionate people and the opportunity to get out into the real world to use some truly awesome products. It’s exciting times ahead and I can’t wait to see where we will be in a couple of years. It’s a case of buckle up, grit your teeth and hold on.

Meet the Expert
Name: Jake Smith  
Role: Marketing Manager, Narva
Experience: 12 years