The residential lighting industry is known for its family-owned businesses, and Gross Electric is among the oldest and most respected in the market. The largest lighting showroom in the Toledo market, with units also in Ann Arbor, MI, and Northwood, OH, Gross Electric is now managed by a third generation of the Gross family, who bring a fresh perspective and new energy to the company. A new logo, designed to celebrate 100 years in business, is only one of many improvements taking place at this “old new” company.
About five years ago, an area formerly used in the Toledo showroom for close-outs was transformed into a Lifestyle Design Center, complete with a life-size living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. When customers building a high-end home are ready to buy their lighting, the first stop within the showroom is the Design Center.
The massive display is an ideal venue to present lighting concepts that can be hard to visualize without a demonstration. The area has been updated with LED lamps shown in above- and under-cabinet fixtures, recessed fixtures, outdoor floods and more. The large-scale, realistic home is also the perfect setting to teach customers about Lutron’s home control system. The display is so effective, a second one was added to the Ann Arbor store in 2011.
HOUSE OF LIGHTS AND HOME ACCENTS
After 50 years in business, House of Lights and Home Accents is proud of its “gold-plated” reputation. The goal of being able to handle a client from the beginning of a project to the very end recently became a reality with the addition of four licensed installers who provide ”white glove” installation service that comes with a one-year warranty.
With every customer contact, the staff tries to exceed expectations by providing the best possible service. The sales team has a combined 73 years of experience in the showroom business, and 58 of those years have been with House of Lights. United in its desire to learn something new every day, the team holds itself to a very high standard, especially when it comes to product knowledge.
Keeping up on products and innovations enhances each team member’s ability to service customers. The showroom is known far and wide as the place for leading-edge lighting products and the latest lighting technologies. Employees are experts on LED lighting and have tested many LED products themselves. In the last year, House of Lights built a large operating display of ECO LED recessed retrofit modules. The display shows a regular 65W BR30 and compares it to the ECO LED recessed retrofits. The client can visually see the color rendering difference, the lumen output difference and “feel” the temperature difference.
THE LITE HOUSE
The slogan, “Lighting the midlands of South Carolina since 1973,” says a lot about The Lite House, the area’s first true lighting showroom specializing in residential lighting. Today, the Lite House continues the multimedia tradition started in the showroom’s earliest days. Newspaper ads and radio spots support sales events throughout the year.
The big difference now is the Internet. The Lite House uses print ads to promote its website, and vice versa. A recent “Eggstra Savings Sale” around Easter reminded customers, “The Lowest Prices on the Internet are the Prices on our Tags!” Likewise, consumers can download a “Lite Makeover” discount coupon from the website. Although they cannot purchase goods online from The Lite House website, they can create a wish list that can be turned into an order in person at the showroom or on the telephone. The wish list registry also aids The Lite House with its search engine optimization efforts.
The staff will make house calls, track down an obscure fixture, instruct about color temperature and help you make the right choices — whether your need is a single chandelier bulb or lighting for an entire home.
Honored as “Best of Boston” in a variety of categories by Boston magazine in 2008, 2010 and 2011, Lucia Lighting is known for extraordinary service and a profound knowledge of lighting technology and design. Because she thinks personal, one-on-one contact will always be important, owner Lucy Dearborn feels lighting showrooms can have more value today than ever. Lucia Lighting aims to achieve that by intensely focusing on what customers really need. Outstanding customer service, product, value and education are the cornerstones of Lucia Lighting’s business model.
Interior designers, architects and builders from Boston’s affluent North Shore may come to the showroom over and over again during the course of a project, but chances are they will always see fresh displays showcasing new merchandise and a piece or two that they perhaps had not noticed on a previous visit. The 8,000-square-foot former funeral parlor that Lucia calls home is organized into 12 showrooms representing rooms of the house, styles of lighting and special sections, like the Gift Lamps area. A third-floor design studio and warehouse space consume the rest of the mansion.
NEW METAL CRAFTS
Having ”everything under one roof” may sound cliché, but when it comes to lighting fixtures, the old chestnut is true for New Metal Crafts.
A Chicago landmark since the 1930s, the 30,000-square-foot showroom and warehouse is unique locally and nationally. Ready to address any lighting requirement, regardless of size, style or budget, New Metal Crafts is one of the few showrooms that still maintains a full workshop with craftsmen who can rewire, refinish or modify any light fixture, even very old ones. When needed, New Metal Crafts can fabricate fixtures for custom projects.
New Metal Crafts’ vast inventory is a collection of contemporary European imports, vintage fixtures and fine antiques. More than 150 national lighting lines are represented, including the showroom’s own New Metal Crafts lighting collection. Antique fixtures are separated from reproductions, but crystal chandeliers are mixed in with transitional and traditional fixtures.
NORTHWEST LIGHTING AND ACCENTS
MT. PROSPECT, IL
Serving the residential, commercial and industrial markets for more than 50 years, Northwest Lighting and Accents (formerly Northwest Electrical Supply) sells lighting, fans and decorative home accents from a two-story, 16,000-square-foot showroom in northwest suburban Chicago. The showroom is large enough to display good, better and best price points without sacrificing product selection. The family-owned showroom can truly accommodate any budget with virtually any style, from traditional to ultra-contemporary.
The company’s philosophy is to show complete collections so that customers can get an idea of all the sizes and options available. Four interior designers on staff accessorize lighting displays with coordinating home accents and furniture. High-end “Gallery” items are displayed throughout the showroom. These dramatic pieces add “wow” and make browsing all the more exciting.
Each customer segment is monitored to ensure the showroom is meeting its unique requirements. Recognizing that many interior designers were working from their homes to reduce expenses, Northwest added a designated office, decorated and equipped for their exclusive use with their own clients. The move was part of a larger Affiliate Program that targets interior designers, architects and builders.
No one in North Texas does lighting quite like Passion Lighting. A wide selection of lighting and home accessories, a thriving design business, plus a growing focus on landscape lighting attract a steady stream of customers, helping the showroom grow even in a flat market.
A willingness to change with the times has touched many parts of the business, particularly marketing. No longer doing much print advertising, the company makes full use of the Internet, participating in social media (Facebook) and regularly scheduled e-mail blasts that keep customers in the loop. Passion revisits its website annually, updating the format and adding content. Photos of completed projects are uploaded to the site weekly, a visual reinforcement of the showroom staff’s expertise and style. Lighting Gourmet, a video blog hosted by Bruce Paul, CLC, is a popular online customer resource that will be expanded this year.
Employees like Paul are the backbone of Passion Lighting. The company’s Purple Cow Program has been a fun way of bringing attention to staff excellence. Customers, fellow employees and managers are encouraged to fill out purple tickets that commend salespeople for a job well done. The tickets are used for drawings that are wildly popular with the staff, and no wonder: Last year, more than $2,500 in prizes was awarded.
For years, David Nestor’s lighting business flourished as tract homes sprung up all over the Denver area. In his second “born again” lighting life, he sells fashion to homeowners who are redecorating and remodeling.
The chance for a “second time around” came in 2010, after the lighting showroom business he had sold previously failed after four years. Nestor bought the company back and returned with his team to transform the showroom into what it is today in just two months time.
Where the business once had its cash tied up in inventory, it now goes to marketing. Local television and radio ads build awareness and generate store traffic. Urban Lights has had success combining search engine optimization/search engine marketing with a strong social media presence, which strengthens the company’s “organic place” on the web. Dollars saved by running smaller black-and-white newspaper ads now go into banner ads, online coupons and the like, which are intended to bring shoppers to the company’s website.
While it is hard to measure the actual impact of the switch, there has been no loss of business as a result, either. Overall, the goal is to motivate potential customers to shop the 20,000-square-foot showroom, where they will find the latest lighting displayed with stylish home fashions.