enLIGHTenment Magazine pays tribute to some of the most illustrious members of our industry.
Category: Luminary, Retailer
Larry King, Capital Lighting
The Early Days:
When Larry King and Dave Winks opened Capital Lighting in June 1990, the Ohio business served approximately 80 percent of the area’s wholesale/builder market. Located in a suburban industrial park, the store had virtually no retail traffic. By 1999, the business partners were able to relocate the business to a highly visible location across from a large shopping mall. The new building consists of a 7,500-sq.ft. showroom, 4,000 square feet of office space, and a 20,000-sq.-ft. warehouse.
The Recession of 2008 was our biggest challenge since we were so heavily [involved] with builders. In addition, for the past 5-10 years, the Internet has been so accessible that beating price was a problem. We had to change to counteract this new tool that the consumer had at their disposal. As a result, we went ahead and marked all of our products to match IMAP pricing. We found that people still wanted to come in to touch and feel the product, but by matching IMAP pricing, customers immediately see that we are competitively priced. Also, what we show on the floor is what we have in stock. In the [rare] case where we don’t have something in stock, we have strong partnerships with our vendors, many of whom ship to us twice a week. Customers quickly realize that we can get product to them faster than an online store can in many cases. In the last three years, having that [amount of] inventory has really helped us to compete. Once the customer realizes that they can have the fixture they want in three or four days – if we don’t already have it in stock – and that we’re competitively priced, the sale is made. The key is to have the product to the customer fast so on a Saturday or Sunday, they can take it home with them.
Key to Success:
I consider myself lucky for picking a very good business partner. David and I consider our positive reputation and the strong relationships we have with customers and vendors among the reasons for our success. As a business owner, I come in to work each day and I don’t leave until the task or goal that I had planned to complete that day is done.
What Lies Ahead:
I see success for small, family-owned lighting showrooms that offer education geared toward LED. We’re an advocate of the ALA and I’ve been actively involved for the past nine years. It is the best education that we can put in front of our staff. We offer education to everyone in our company. Why not educate the guy who is moving boxes around? It makes all of the employees feel important that w are spending money on them. If they pass the ALA test, they get one day off. We’ve found that the new generation of employees value having a day off over a monetary incentive. In the long run, we’ve [invested] in having a well-educated staff. With LEDs becoming more popular, lighting showrooms should be the headquarters for answering questions the consumer has about LED lighting. Every day, we get customers come in who were referred by Lowes and Home Depot. They’ll tell us, “I was just at Home Depot and they told me to come here….” Become the source for expert lighting knowledge in your community.