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View Full Version : I cannot believe my eyes


Mike M
12-20-2007, 10:04 PM
Now that I had to pay my gate fees to get into some upscale areas, I cannot believe my eyes. I mean, I knew there were lots of bad DIY lighting and pathetic lighting jobs around, but...

Yesterday I went to demo for an unsatisfied homeowner. The focal point of his existing lighting was from the porch only, with only the bottom 15 feet of extremely tall pines out by the road being down-lighted, with Vista up-light bullets (stop for a second and read this sentance again). A solo path light existed at the very end of a 150 foot run, and it probably had about 4 volts. All the cable runs for the property were inside the pine needles, on the surface.

Then I remembered a local irrigation distributor for a large national landscape supply company. I asked what kind of tools (spades, etc.) he had for trenching for landscape lighting cable. He snapped, "Just lay it in the mulch." Nice advice. Same place has no timers or photo cells in stock, and no multitap's. Just a big "Vista" sign out front. Aisles and aisles of irrigation parts.

Am I the only one who hates the whole irrigation distributor model for lighting? I understand many are knowledgeable with lighting, but all the ones in my town are ignorant on installations and are not fully stocked. They push aluminum in a coastal region. Some want to charge me cable by the foot, at like 200% higher than I get normally, including shipping.

All this has no effect on me directly, since I'll just order from a lighting distributor/specialist, but I am the one that has to deal with the mess in the wake of these idiots that light jobs upside down and backwards.

And I'm just a beginner. This stuff must kill you guys.

Lite4
12-20-2007, 10:13 PM
Same thing here Mike. We do have one Irr/light supplier that is ok about keeping accesories on the shelf. However there is no one particular place that caters to our market. If you go to a lighting store that just sells lights and ask them about Unique, Vista, Nightscaping, etc... They just give you the deer in the headlights look. It just shows you how far behind this industry is in the minds of those would be lighting distributors.

bmwsmity
12-20-2007, 10:17 PM
Same thing here Mike. We do have one Irr/light supplier that is ok about keeping accesories on the shelf. However there is no one particular place that caters to our market. If you go to a lighting store that just sells lights and ask them about Unique, Vista, Nightscaping, etc... They just give you the deer in the headlights look. It just shows you how far behind this industry is in the minds of those would be lighting distributors.

I gotta say, I'm lucky, because my distributor is AWESOME. Great knowledge and great product. Couldn't be happier.

Now, for the irr/lighting companies that are my competition, i have other opinions ;)

Chris J
12-20-2007, 10:19 PM
You now are beginning to understand my frustration. Give it time, it will only get worse for you and it will begin to beat you down. As for your situation with dealers and wire, give me a call. For your wire, you should be using Cables Plus. Call Jim Oniel at 908-797-4111. Best wire I've found in the last $20,000 spent. Welcome to MY WORLD!!! Now you know why I get so bent out of shape when some of these guys casually give tid-bits of "how to do it" advice to an irrigation contractor. No offense to irri-guys, but you have to know more than 2 or 3 posts of info to install a job.

Chris J
12-20-2007, 10:23 PM
bmwsmitty,
Thanks for the link. Impressive website and pictures! Is all of that work your own creation?

bmwsmity
12-20-2007, 10:38 PM
bmwsmitty,
Thanks for the link. Impressive website and pictures! Is all of that work your own creation?

replied on other thread. sorry ;)

Pro-Scapes
12-21-2007, 08:24 AM
sounds about typical with the tossed in lighting package when the landscape is installed Mike. I just yanked it out of a 1.5 million dollar home. Its the project I sent you pics of.

Guys had 1200w total on property. I am over 3 times that. They had the usual 50w lamps in every fixture... Im twice as bright with 20w. Chances are the homeowner was never thrilled with it and would welcome something stunning. This is where a demo rocks the boat and shows them how low voltage can be really remarkable. Some have that sour taste in their mouth.

Now find out who did it. Chances are they hate lighting and get them on your refferal program. They will either love it or they will look at it as a loss of revenue.

extlights
12-21-2007, 12:21 PM
Yeah, this is very typical. We did a project last year on a very large home (6.5-7 million) and the lighting was horrible. The homeowner's wife contacted us and said that they had existing lighting but she just didn't think it looked right. When we went out there, it was a complete mess. All the fixtures had voltage readings anywhere betwee 8-10v, wires out of the ground everywhere...crappy fixtures, etc. Long story short....we completely ripped out her existing system and started fresh. We ended up with 6 more total fixtures and somehow we were $400 less than what they payed for the old system 5 years ago.

There are way too many people/companies out there that don't care about their customers and are way too worried about the all mighty buck. They just do the job and get it done as fast as possible, collect the check and move on to the next victim...I mean customer.

seolatlanta
12-22-2007, 12:45 AM
Hey Mike

Check your PM

Dave

msouthard
12-26-2007, 12:10 AM
Mike

Just curious as to who your distributor is. Your right many of the wholesale distributors are not as well versed in lighting as they should be but that varies form market to market as you can see from this forum. Many contractors are very happy with their irrigation distributors. There are many lighting only specialized distributors as well that I am sure many of the people on this forum use.

Mike Southard
Kichler

Mike M
12-26-2007, 09:00 AM
Thanks for the response Mike.

Obviously the pre-existing network of brick-and-mortar distributors suppling technical info and materials for landscapers is a great way to go for lighting manufacturers, to reach the green industry.

The problem is that lv lighting is not irrigation and should have differences in it's model. Also, most of these distrib's approach the whole thing as specialty side jobs for their irrigation guys, and they don't invest in inventory and education. That results in uninformed purchases, misinformed technical info, expensive prices, delays in delivery, limited choices, and lack of colleagual street gossip for the illumination industry.

I just figure let the free market do it's thing, the DYI go to Home Depot and the landscaper go to JDL, while the illuminator goes to an lv lighting specialist. If I have to do this by internet-phone-UPS, so be it. Now, I just want to make it clear, that I am extremeley pleased with my illuminator distributor for all reasons mentioned aboved.

Do most irrigation guys go to electrical contractor suppliers? Plumbing suppliers? No, they go to irrigation suppliers.

I hate governmant regulations, but after seeing what the DYI's and side-job guys are doing, I beg for lv licensing.

NightScenes
12-27-2007, 01:30 PM
My main distributor is Longhorn irrigation supply here in Texas and Rich Swor is actually a CLVLT!! He has taken the time to understand this industry and it shows in the way that he takes care of his customers.

Mike M
12-27-2007, 08:15 PM
Paul, you are very lucky. Is this your only distributor? I have made a descision to stick with just one. As my business picks up, I'm sure they will appreciate it.

This will make orders so much easier and transactions faster, and paperwork/accounting a heck of a lot easier.

Chris J
12-27-2007, 09:17 PM
Distributor loyalty is a great way to get very good pricing. Just make sure you check in every once in a while to make sure you keep them in check. If you're giving them all of your business, then they darn well better be giving you some bottom of the barrell prices.

ccfree
12-27-2007, 09:45 PM
My main distributor is Longhorn irrigation supply here in Texas and Rich Swor is actually a CLVLT!! He has taken the time to understand this industry and it shows in the way that he takes care of his customers.


Ewing is a pretty good lighting distributor too! They are CLVLT's too!

Pro-Scapes
12-27-2007, 10:57 PM
I agree with ya Chris. I think I am finally on track with pricing with my dist but I check in when solicited by other distributors. Also make sure you look at the bottom line. Some offer discounts or free shipping while others have lower prices and inflated ship charges.

Man I really miss having a well stocked local dist already and its only been 2 weeks!

NightScenes
12-27-2007, 11:42 PM
I also do business with Terradek (Gerry De La Vega CLVLT) and CLL. All of these distributors are top notch and know the industry well.

It's very important that you do business with someone who really knows what they are doing.

Craig, I know that you are a CLVLT but I would not say that "Ewing distributors" are CLVLTs. I also would not say that all of Longhorn, Terradek and CLLs employees are CLVLTs. Just making sure that there is no confusion.

seolatlanta
12-28-2007, 12:14 AM
Hey Billy

What do you mean?

"Man I really miss having a well stocked local dist already and its only been 2 weeks!"

Did AJ close SOLD? I am sure that does hurt if that is the case.

Hope you are doing well. I hope you can find a way to make it to the AOLP conference. A guy as eager as yourself who has totally immersed himself in the industry can really come from there with some useful knowledge.

Pro-Scapes
12-28-2007, 10:35 AM
AJ merged both FOLD and SOLD into a larger location which he will carry more stock. If you ever saw the FOLD warehouse you would know it was busting at the seams with product and was really cramped. From what I understand his new location is much much bigger. But now I need to stock stuff. Before if I had a trans problem or needed an off the wall lamp I could just call Jannet here and run and pick it up. Was super nice.

Murphys law applied. As soon as buiness started jumping for me and another contractor here he closed up lol.

klkanders
12-28-2007, 10:46 AM
Welcome to my world Billy! My distributor is TerraDek (3-4 hours away). Actually its quite nice tho I can get quite a bit of product at my door step in 1-2 days. I also can get Unique locally at an irrigation distributor altho the stock can get limited at times.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
12-28-2007, 11:05 AM
Billy: Your 'stocking distributor' should be just that. They should stock the inventory that you need for you. That is ultimately what they are making their 30-40% for isnt it?

The last decade or so has seen a big drop in inventory levels carried by distributors. I have always pushed my vendors hard to carry the inventory that I require in the volumes that will keep my business supplied properly. Luckily I have found a few vendors who appreciate the volume and loyalty and are willing to inventory the items I need.

Developing a solid relationship with a distributor is key to keeping overhead costs down. Why inventory product at your shop (tie up your money in stock) when you can have pretty much anything you require shipped to your door from your distributor overnight? If you live in a large urban area, that delivery time can be reduced to hours, and for strong loyalty, should come at little to no cost to you the 'customer'.

Push those distributors hard guys... then keep the PO's coming.... before long you will find a shelf in their warehouse with your name on it.

Have a great day.

Pro-Scapes
12-28-2007, 11:42 AM
when sold was here they always had most of what i needed. I have no problem waiting 2 days for stuff in most cases. What i need more of is service after the sale or if a goof was made. We are all human and mistakes happen no matter if it comes from the manufacture or the distributors end. If a goof is made the goofing party should correct it. You know good and well if any of us made a mistake for a client we would need to correct it and correct is ASAP.

im not the biggest contractor by far but my business is growing. I dont have a problem commiting to 1 primary source. There will always be little things or specialty things that your primary wont have. That primary better keep prices right... provide service before and after the sale and offer smooth support should things not function as they should.

JoeyD
12-28-2007, 11:51 AM
James is spot on here guys. Distribution is a "show me" kind of buisness. You have to understand that every contractor that walks intot a distributor is the next best thing in the world according to his own words. The distributors get it everyday from guys inflating their real buying power to get the best discount. The best thing you can do is go in to make a deal when you are ready to purchase a job. Show the distributor you are serious and are not just yanking his chain. Be upfront with how much you really buy but also lay out your demands. Let them know what you like and what you expect to be ont he shelf to keep your buisness. Some distributors are harder to work with than others and bottom line is you need to like who you are doing buisness with for the relationship to be succesfull.

Joey D.

Watson Irrigation
12-28-2007, 01:18 PM
Billy: Your 'stocking distributor' should be just that. They should stock the inventory that you need for you. That is ultimately what they are making their 30-40% for isnt it?

The last decade or so has seen a big drop in inventory levels carried by distributors. I have always pushed my vendors hard to carry the inventory that I require in the volumes that will keep my business supplied properly. Luckily I have found a few vendors who appreciate the volume and loyalty and are willing to inventory the items I need.

Developing a solid relationship with a distributor is key to keeping overhead costs down. Why inventory product at your shop (tie up your money in stock) when you can have pretty much anything you require shipped to your door from your distributor overnight? If you live in a large urban area, that delivery time can be reduced to hours, and for strong loyalty, should come at little to no cost to you the 'customer'.

Push those distributors hard guys... then keep the PO's coming.... before long you will find a shelf in their warehouse with your name on it.

Have a great day.

Being a distributor, I agree completely with James on this. Solid relationships are the key.
I hate to generalize distributor business practices, but I for one am more than willing to stock what my contractors buy and use, NOT what they say they are going to use. "Show me" is right. I cannot tell you how many contractors walk in the door and "demand" the best prices and that I stock my shelves for them in order to earn their business, and then we don't see their faces for several months. Just recently I had a guy come in patting his own back, making demands, collecting literature, asking questions, etc., only to leave the minute he found out that my deck light was $1.50 higher than the identical deck light at the lighting showroom. When I asked him how much help they gave him with ideas, training, designs, troubleshooting, and customer service, he admitted that those things were totally lacking. (But their price was better, so that makes up for it! :hammerhead:) Anyway, I know not all contractors are like this guy, and please be aware that not all irrigation distributors have the "deer in the headlight" look when talking about LV lighting. Find a good distributor, and you might just learn a thing or two, WHILE teaching THEM something.

Does this sound like a rant? Sorry.

JoeyD
12-28-2007, 01:36 PM
I think what Chris said here is good for everyone to hear. Not all Irrigation Distributors are up to speed with lighting but there are quite a few that are. I know some real good guys that work for Shemin, ISS, Horizon, and a handful of others that can and do lay out jobs form beginning to end and do a good job with it. I also know there are guys/distributors that participate here and are really knowlegable as well like Craig Freeman, Chris here from Watson who seems up to speed, and Dave Homsansky. I think the problem lies that not all "counter" personel are always trained on lighting but I know we try really hard to offer all of our distribution proper training for all of their staff. It is just very hard on both ends to make every person a "lighting guy". Irrigation is their primary buisness and we have to respect that. But the more you guys speak up to your distributors the more they will listen and hopefully make changes to put more effort into lighting for you.

Joey D.

Pro-Scapes
12-28-2007, 05:10 PM
I think if a dist is unknowledgeable about a product they probably shouldnt be selling it. I see alot around here that sell to landscapers and irrigation guys and they tell them the connectors are included (quick discs) or just connect the lights to the main cable ect.

If they are knowledgeable about irrigation they can obviously learn a bit more about lighting. This falls on the dist and the manufactures. Manufactures see dollar signs when they sign on a new dist and get that opening order. Some do a better job than others.

Sometimes even the lighting only dist have only marginal knowledge of the product lines. Someplace you gotta draw the line between being a salesman and pushing the product and being a friend and taking care of the guys who decide to buy from you.

pete scalia
12-30-2007, 02:30 PM
Many so called distributors that exist today are so called Drop ship distributors meaning they stock very little and only make orders when the orders come in from contractors. The stuff gets shipped directly to the contractor from the manu and the distributor does the billing for a fee tacked on with no financial investment on their part. Why stock Vista when they can/will quick ship in one day? This type of policy with them at least discourages keeping anything but the fast sellers in stock. Why tie up money in inventory which takes shelf space and collects dust? At least thats' what Vista distributors are thinking. They are reaping what they've sown.