How did you get into the industry?
I was born into it. I think I learned how to repair lamps before I could even walk. My grandfather started Tuthill Lighting in 1924 and my mother joined him in 1958. She was the greatest hero of my life, so the choice to take over for her was one of the easiest I’ve ever made. I wanted to do all I could to carry her dream onward. We’ve grown the brand from a small lamp and shade shop to a progressive lighting fixture store. I think I’ve made her proud.
What are some changes you’ve seen?
I officially entered the industry in 1981 and I’ve seen it come into its own. For example, the ALA used to be called the Lamp and Shade Institute and the early get-togethers were called “conventions.” Imagine telling your buddies you were going to a Lamp and Shade Institute Convention for the weekend. It was rough, but it feels like the industry has matured. The fixtures are more modern and stylish, and the conferences — we call them “conferences” now — are held in the best cities and draw hundreds of thousands of people. Saying that you are part of this industry is something to be proud of.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I credit my success to evolving, just as the industry has. I am constantly analyzing my business model and business environment, deciding what is working and what isn’t to stay relevant. I think it’s human nature to find something that works and become too comfortable with it. To be successful, however, you have to grow.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISH YOU KNEW STARTING OUT?
I have learned from every mistake. I don’t think I would change a thing. The thing I am most proud about, is seeing the internet’s potential early on and embracing it.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR BUSINESS IN THE NEXT 5 TO 10 YEARS?
I see continued growth and even more hands-on customer service. I know though, that eventually, all good things must come to an end. My two children have chosen other paths which I have whole-heartedly supported from day one. All I’ve ever wanted for them is to be happy.