Following 2012 with $380,000 distributed to members in growth incentives, reduced fees, and rebate checks, this year just may be this group’s strongest yet.
|Greg Garofalo||LeAnn Day|
If you are in the lighting industry, chances are good that you’ve heard about the largest cooperative network of independent lighting retailers known as Lighting One, whose membership covers the retail, builder, and commercial markets in the U.S. and Canada. What non-members and newcomers to the industry might not be aware of is how Lighting One benefits its members.
As a cooperative network, Lighting One offers increased purchasing and marketing power, along with a number of business-related national programs. By combining purchases and other resources, independent showrooms receive volume discounts and services that are generally reserved for larger companies. Other advantages include rebates, spiffs, reduced freight policies, lower credit card fees, marketing materials, and sales & management training. Additionally, access to exclusive products not available elsewhere limits the opportunity of consumer “showrooming.” As of last month, there are 116 members in 155 locations throughout North America.
“Because of our size, we are able to bring national business programs to our members, saving them thousands of dollars in daily operational functions,” explains Gregg Garofalo, senior vice president of Lighting One. “As the industry has been consolidating, we provide independent showrooms the flexibility to continue purchasing from suppliers they prefer, but, encourage them to consolidate to our aligned group of 32 suppliers. Our members earn rebates on all purchases from the day they join the co-op. We also provide the Power of Purchasing Growth Incentive program, which enables members to earn potential additional rebates based on their purchasing support of our participating suppliers.
Other Lighting One programs that have been particularly popular are consumer financing, which enables them to compete with the big box financing programs, as well as Pro-Trade Credit, that offers specific trade customers lines of credit. This allows members to remove receivables and increase their cash flow, which provides them more spending dollars to purchase from Lighting One suppliers.
“We also worked hard to include the manufacturers’ reps,” Garofalo states. “We feel they are a key part of our growth, in both purchasing and membership expansion.” We’ve gained 37 new members in two years and have a new member incentive program that awarded $13,000 during 2012, primarily to independent representative leads.
“Our goal is to touch base with each of our members monthly,” notes LeAnn Day, senior member consultant at Lighting One. “In support of that goal, we have recently added Heather Coil, membership coordinator to our team. We also send out weekly e-blasts, hold quarterly conference calls with membership, and offer informative national program and supplier-related Webinars. In addition we provide members with an internal Web site that hosts all pertinent information,” she states.
Lighting One’s annual conference is held in January, in conjunction with the International Lighting Show in Dallas. “We decided to use the synergy of market where a majority of our members and suppliers attend in lieu of a three-day convention somewhere else,” Day explains. The conference consists of a member business review, supplier updates and promotions, plus relevant seminars. At the most recent convention, topics covered succession planning and inheritance tax laws. There is also a large gala evening that celebrates the successes of members, suppliers, representatives, as well as other industry guests. This year, more than 350 industry people attended the event. Lighting One members also come together at the June Dallas Market, although that gathering is less formal.
In 2013, Lighting One has expanded into the accent rug category, recently adding nationally branded Shaw Living to complement Uttermost and Currey & Company in this category. “We’re looking at non-lighting categories such as plumbing hardware, window treatments, and kitchen/bath cabinets,” Garofalo says. The possibility of cross-marketing opportunities with flooring members at [parent company] CCA Global Partners is also being considered. “We’re working on a lead-generation program for our members,” he remarks. The Advisory Council, which consists of nine diversified members representing a cross-section of the overall membership, also meets to discuss and develop new innovative strategies. According to Garofalo and Day, Lighting One is committed to finding synergies that will benefit its membership and lead them toward greater profitability even in the most challenging economy.