He received the ALA’s highest honor, the Pillar of Industry Award, in 2009. But Norm Brown, CLC®, says he was “absolutely surprised” when Norburn Lighting’s name was called during this year’s ceremonies in Dallas. He recovered quickly: “Within 30 seconds I had my three branch managers on the phone to congratulate them,” Brown says. “I think their reaction made me happier than anything; they all worked so hard to get us this award.”
A decades-old local institution now serving grandchildren of the stores’ original customers, Norburn Lighting has let everyone know about this latest achievement. The company’s website was a primary vehicle. Norburn’s entry statement explained: “We don’t treat our website as a brochure, but as a living and breathing creature that needs to interact with people, respond to their queries, and feature interesting industry-specific information.”
Posts about the award on the website blog, Facebook and LinkedIn went up right away. Press releases were distributed to Vancouver media and regional outlets. An announcement was sent to thousands of subscribers on Norburn’s e-blast list.
In the past year or so, e-mail communications have increased as print advertising as decreased, Brown says. “We send out one or two e-blasts a month, so we don’t overdo it,” he explains. “More than 100 people recently attended an LED seminar. We had three guest speakers who held those people in the room for more than two hours. We never would have got them in without those e-blasts.”
Providing customers with expert information from highly trained lighting specialists and now via the Internet has served Norburn Lighting well. Brown says the challenge to his branches will be running to keep up with LED technology. “We’re training people as fast as we can as well as we can to stay ahead of the curve,” he says. “I think this is the first time in my 45 years in the lighting business when showrooms can differentiate themselves from the home centers with more than just product. It used to be all about shapes, colors and materials. Now people have to understand the bulbs, which brings them to us, the experts.”