Large corporations have reaped big benefits by forming strategic alliances. Whether the goal is carving out a better competitive position, reaching new markets or a means of leveraging risk, these tactics can improve chances of business success.
Of course, small businesses can also benefit from such an arrangement, as two lighting industry firms recently discovered. Karen Lang, owner of Hinsdale Lighting, Hinsdale, IL; and Anthony Rein of Rein Electric, Grayslake, IL, only knew each other through acquaintances — “friends of friends” — when a major renovation of a 7,500-square-foot home in Chicago’s western suburbs brought the two together.
Originally, Hinsdale Lighting was a store that sold lighting fixtures, with a specialty in antique fixtures. Today, it is
a complete turnkey lighting resource, with the products, staff and experience to handle complex lighting plans
from A to Z.
Lang says she wears many hats at Hinsdale, from COO to chief designer. A staff architect provides CAD drawings for a variety of residential projects, including radio controls, kitchens and landscape lighting. Rein is a licensed master electrician who has been trained on Juno and Lutron products. His expertise and know-how, particularly in the area of controls, complement Lang’s talents in important ways, and vice versa. Both Lang and Rein believe that working as a team will help build their businesses.
The Hinsdale renovation project began last spring, when a general contractor and interior designer were hired along with Lang. Bids were let for an electrical contractor.
Rein earned Lang’s respect during the bidding process when he came by the store to introduce himself — the only electrical contractor to do so, she says. He asked a lot of technical questions, which she also liked. Rein’s experience with lighting control technology and his abundant enthusiasm helped “seal the deal,” Lang says. “I like that Anthony is not afraid to try something new and to work with high-grade products.”
Rein recalls that Lang wanted to be certain he knew what he was doing and would not “botch this job,” he says.
Once he got the job and they began to work though the lighting plan, Rein says he and Lang went through a bit of a learning curve. Through meetings, text messages and calls, the two figured out how to make their working relationship as efficient and productive as possible. Communication is key.
“I think it’s great having ‘two heads’ to think things through,” Rein says. “Karen handles the decorative and I come in with the mechanical. Being a team prevents problems before they occur.”
Teaming with an electrical contractor has other advantages. Rein says homeowners often ask where to buy lighting; now he is quick to recommend Hinsdale Lighting. Lang will return the favor when asked about Rein’s services.
By spring 2010, the major housing renovation that brought them together is heading for completion. At press time, drywall was being put up and the floors were about to go in. For Lang and Rein, the beat goes on.
“Rein Electric and my company have already started to work on new, smaller projects, and it is working out really well,” Lang says. “For now and into the future, Anthony is my go-to guy.”