Showroom of the Year: Revenue $5 Million and Over
 
Houston’s Lighting Unlimited took the prize for Showroom of the Year Over $5 Million. Residential Lighting’s Laura Van Zeyl and Ed Gillette (right) presented the award to Nick Senofsky.

Long known for being on the forefront of all of the newest lighting technologies, Lighting Unlimited is now focusing on LED systems. Staffed with an electrical engineer, experienced lighting designers and a dedicated AutoCAD specialist, the 37,500-square-foot showroom (including 22,000 in warehouse space) is able to provide a very high level of service to its core customers: builders, interior designers and homeowners. Seeing is believing, so the showroom’s new LED Center, an in-store demonstration room, has been getting a lot of use. In the style of a classic lighting lab, a separate landscape display shows how LEDs work in outdoor settings. Selection is another reason to shop Lighting Unlimited; brands such as Cree and Toshiba give customers the very latest the lighting industry has to offer for new construction, remodeling and retrofits.

CEO Nick Senofsky talked to Residential Lighting about what's next for Lighting Unlimited:

Residential Lighting: What’s new at your showroom?

Nick Senofsky, CEO: We always see ways to improve. We recently re-did the traditional section of the store, which is about a third of the store. We took a look at our merchandise, and got rid of the fixtures that did not make sense. We literally took down 500 fixtures and, working with Richard Alan and Denis Caldora, added walls and created about 20 new vignettes. Everything was re-organized; it took eight people a week of eight-hour days to re-hang the fixtures within the vignettes — and that was after weeks of preparation, reviewing the line and so forth. 

RL: What do you think your showroom has done right during the downturn?

NS: We did not make any drastic changes to our business model. We have always focused on being “customer-centric,” a concept that I think is very different than customer service. Being customer-centric is one of our core business values against which we measure everything we do. It’s in our DNA. So being customer-centric is something we have always done, but it has really helped us during the recession. 

RL: What do you think your showroom did not do very well during the downturn?

NS: Our strength has always been our front end; we’re great with product, selection, servicing the customer. I think we could have done a better job managing our inventory levels and our back-end operation in general. 

RL: What’s on tap for next year? 

NS: We have worked hard to maintain our leadership in cutting-edge technology. We were first to have low voltage systems years ago, and now we are putting the full-court press on LEDs. We have an entire room devoted to every kind of LED fixture we carry, and we’ve given our staff intensive training on LEDs. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it is nice to be a leader in this area. There is a new technology we will be pushing next year. It is too soon to go into all the details, so I will just say that we will continue to lead with state-of-the-art lighting, and leave it at that.