HOW DID YOU ENTER THE INDUSTRY?
Very reluctantly. My mother and stepfather had a thriving rep agency in South Florida and I didn’t want anything to do with it. Who wants to do what their parents do? When my stepfather suffered a massive heart attack, however, I stepped in. When he died in 1999, I became a partner with my mother and we expanded the business. I handled South Florida and she covered North Florida. We got our first big break when Kichler called and said they wanted us. My wife and I moved to cover Louisiana and Mississippi, and it was the greatest thing we ever did. It was a completely undeveloped market and we blew it up. It was a ton of work, but those were some of the best days of our lives. Then my mother was diagnosed with cancer. The sicker she got, the harder it became to maintain such a large territory. We decided Mississippi was a lost cause and started looking further west; that’s when things got really interesting. Today we’re stronger than ever. We have 16 associates and cover all of Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. We feel like we are in a place to diversify. We are still lighting at heart, but are now looking at plumbing.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHANGES YOU’VE SEEN?
LED has changed everything. I happen to love it and have embraced it from the very beginning. It is amazing technology that is great for our country and energy grid. I think it was one of the very few government regulations that I stood behind wholeheartedly. The internet and mainstream media have also changed the game, for better or for worse, depending on how you look at it. All you could ever want is at your fingertips. HGTV and DIY platforms have allowed everyone to feel like a designer, and trends have been able to sweep the country. It’s been cool to watch. I think all of these things have made for a better, more dynamic industry.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS?
We hire rock stars. If you surround yourself with awesome people, you can’t help but to succeed. Our team is phenomenal — they’re passionate, they’re honest, they bust their asses, and treat our customers as true partners. A stellar team makes all the difference.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU KNEW WHEN YOU WERE FIRST STARTING OUT?
I wish I had more confidence in hiring top talent. I think when you’re young, you are a little more paranoid. You worry about training your replacement, but I don’t even think about that now. I want the absolute best people on my team.
WHAT DO YOU ENVISION THE LIGHTING AGENCY OF THE FUTURE TO BE LIKE?
There will always be a place for strong reps and strong contributors. That doesn’t mean the internet won’t continue to grow and change the game, but I believe there will always be people who want service. People love to buy things, but they hate to be sold stuff. Lighting agencies of the future will have to learn how to embrace the changes while remaining dedicated to quality customer service. I believe we will be able to do so because we have from day one. I see us adding more service techs and offering corporate trainings, and possibly diving deeper into commercial lighting design. I see nothing but positive things ahead.