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desertlights
09-11-2008, 01:52 PM
I owned a small landscape co. in Indiana for 10 yrs. and now find myself in Nevada. Instead of starting a full service landscape business I hope to focus on landscape and architectural lighting exclusively. I am looking for suggestions on best resources to learn the business. I have registered for a "Lighting Fundamentals" class sponsored by Vista and have contacted AOLP re: the annual conference in Jan. I have ordered Janet Moyers book on lighting.

I am also interested in basic business set up. Is it possible to operate as a "one man show'. If not, appropriate # of installers per job to install lights efficiently? Product recommendations? Anything unique about installing lights in a desert environment?

I have enjoyed reading through this forum for the last week or so and appreciate any advice you can offer.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-11-2008, 02:30 PM
Well no desert experience to offer you... but as for being a One Man Show, yes that is possible and I would even recommend it at first.

I built my business this way, operating alone for a number of years. The clients really like hiring a 'hands on' contractor, and the pride in craftsmanship thing is really welcomed. Let the business develop and grow before you go and get locked into a lot of responsibility and overhead (employees.)

Regards

bmwsmity
09-11-2008, 02:48 PM
I do all of my installations personally and this works fine right now. I have the benefit of a brother who has some landscaping employees, so if I get in a big pinch I just use them.

Another great resource is the book Nate Mullen of Unique Lighting wrote. Probably one of the best I've read so far because it gives good tips on sales and marketing specific to lighting, along with some good tips on design as well (although, I'm not a huge fan of well lights, and he is).

Moyer's book is really good, and I always make sure to talk to customers about some of the design concepts she talks about (how the eye works in regards to light, etc.)

Another thing I will recommend is offering a regular maintenance program... I didn't do this early on, and wish I had pushed it more then because it has become a great source of revenue that smooths things out in between large jobs...it also helps you up sell customers down the road and keeps your name in front of them for good top of mind awareness.

Good luck! :drinkup:

JoeyD
09-11-2008, 02:54 PM
Unique has completely sold out on Nates book The Landscape Lighting Resoure Manual. That means there is now over 10K copies of his book in circulation!!! We are re ordering more and will also be offering a E Book version soon!

Contact me if you ever need any help launching your business DesertLights

bmwsmity
09-11-2008, 03:25 PM
thanks again joey for getting me one of those books.... i brushed up on some of the content which really helped me sell this 102 light job i got, of which i'm using 32 unique illuminator 6's and 4 unique transformers :drinkup:

thats the other advice for you dessert, make sure you choose quality products, because slacking on this will eat you up... early on i used a lot of kichler rubber boot wells, and these things fill with water and burn out your bulbs REAL fast... i burned up hundreds of dollars on bulb replacements due to this.

so far, i've not had a single bulb burn out on any unique product i've installed, and their stuff is truly top-notch...when i get to install these i'm one happy dude cause i know i'm gonna be issue-free.

NiteTymeIlluminations
09-11-2008, 03:51 PM
I dont know if you have experience selling to people like architects and LAs but this has always been a part of the business not pursued enough. They get high end clients who love have things designed properly and the use of architectural grade material. Hevilite, Lumascape, Teka, BK, etc...if you can sell residentially the lines aforementioned and use these lines, which most people havent heard of, to the LAs or architects and their clients you'll do well. Dont just stick to the kichler's and uniques... I found that I have had my blinders on for 20 years now and I'm glad I now have international experience and international reps calling on me. There is the coolest stuff out there...dont be afraid to try it all...call factories and ask if they have local reps...partner up with the reps they may be able to help you out as well...and find a few good distributors but always try to work with the factory first if they will as they can contact the distributor or rep for you and help them help you...good luck!

desertlights
09-11-2008, 05:14 PM
Thanks for all the responses. Has anybody attended the Janet Moyers 'Landscape Lighting Institute' in NY?

JoeyD
09-11-2008, 05:31 PM
thanks again joey for getting me one of those books.... i brushed up on some of the content which really helped me sell this 102 light job i got, of which i'm using 32 unique illuminator 6's and 4 unique transformers :drinkup:

thats the other advice for you dessert, make sure you choose quality products, because slacking on this will eat you up... early on i used a lot of kichler rubber boot wells, and these things fill with water and burn out your bulbs REAL fast... i burned up hundreds of dollars on bulb replacements due to this.

so far, i've not had a single bulb burn out on any unique product i've installed, and their stuff is truly top-notch...when i get to install these i'm one happy dude cause i know i'm gonna be issue-free.


That is so awesome!!! Congrats and thanks for being such a supportive customer!! We truly appreciate your business and your efforts!!!!!!

JoeyD
09-11-2008, 05:32 PM
Thanks for all the responses. Has anybody attended the Janet Moyers 'Landscape Lighting Institute' in NY?

Tom Williams on here can tell you all about it. I have heard it is the best non manufacturer based hands on class offered in relation to Low Voltage Lighting. I would highly consider attending if you can do so.

S&MLL
09-11-2008, 06:10 PM
It is all booked up till next year.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-11-2008, 08:57 PM
John Pletcher, who occasionally posts here, is attending the LLI this October. I am sure he will give us a review when he returns.

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Jan this past spring. She is a wonderful person and truly an inspiration. She got me looking at things in a whole different light.

bthomaskelly
09-12-2008, 10:32 AM
Hello all,
I just want to tell you about what I am going through in Wyoming, and you should check into this with your State. I planned on starting a Landscape Lighting buisness here for about three months now. Called the city said there is no license here and good luck. Well the other day I called the state for a freind that was planning on starting a Mobile oil change business and just mentioned about my business. And he was oh no you cant do that Wyoming does have a Low Voltage Certification that requires 2 years and 4000 hours of experience and about 300 in fees and a 30 question test. I was crushed thinking about being on a job site and getting shut down in front of a customer because I wouldnt have been legit. Im going through the proccess now of proving my Low Volt experience to the state.
Kelly

BTW I think you guys are all amazing. Been lurking here for about three months cutting and pasting the last three years of this site (just the important stuff) its about 90 page word doc that I think alot of you would get a kick at. Thanks again guys, Chris, James, Ned, Dave, Joey, MikeG, MikeM, Billy, Tim, Tommy, Smitty and just about all of you. I think you are all top notch pros!

Chris J
09-12-2008, 11:09 AM
:laugh: Naa Naa, my name was first! Just kidding.
Kelly, I go through the same thing here. The answer to the "do I need a license" question depends on who answers the phone. I went through this until I finally decided to go ahead and just get the license while they pulled their head out of their backside. I didn't want to be caught behind the 8-ball when the authorities finally decided that the license would be enforced and make me go through the same stuff you mention above.
Glad that our squabbles allowed you to sift through the BS and get some useful information. Start participating more, and ask any questions you have. Most of us are here to help, but sometimes a bunch of junk just seems to get started and throws the whole conversation out of whack.
Good luck to you in getting your feet firmly planted in this thing. I hope you do well!

desertlights
09-12-2008, 01:33 PM
Kelly
Thanks for the heads up on licensing. I checked with the state of Nevada and I am required to have a contractors license and a low voltage electrical license.

bthomaskelly
09-12-2008, 01:39 PM
Same here and now I have to prove to the state that I have the required hours and years. They want notorized employment history from work I did in Florida. Then I have to apply for the Low Volt Contractor License and get a temp work permit untill the next exam rolls around, we r even required to have electrical inspections on all work, add another $75 into jobs just for that. The funny thing is they just passed this law last month, and there is no grandfather clause so now I am jumping through hoops to get ppr work in order. For the mean time I am doing Christmas lighting and that will put my foot in the door of some nice home come next spring (fingers x'ed). Are you going to able to operate in NV then? Do you meet their requirments?
Kelly

desertlights
09-12-2008, 05:24 PM
I also need to provide 4 yrs related experience. I am waiting for someone to clarify exactly what that means. There is a General Landscape license which allows landscape lighting. My years in Indiana may fulfill the 4 yrs experience required for this license. I will just keep jumping thru the hoops.

sdsissom
09-21-2008, 12:50 PM
Hello all,

BTW I think you guys are all amazing. Been lurking here for about three months cutting and pasting the last three years of this site (just the important stuff) its about 90 page word doc that I think alot of you would get a kick at. Thanks again guys, Chris, James, Ned, Dave, Joey, MikeG, MikeM, Billy, Tim, Tommy, Smitty and just about all of you. I think you are all top notch pros!

I would love to see that word doc for the "best of" or maybe "no bs" selection of this forum!

JoeyD
09-21-2008, 11:10 PM
most of the LV liscenses you are going to find are dedicated to lv type alarm systems and what not. Not sure if I have even heard of a dedicated LV outdoor lighting liscense.

We have launched a new program in the last week that I will be heading up. It is called LITE and will be a 4 level certification. Something similar to the CLVLT but will be much more up to date and will teach you beyond UL1838 requirements. The program has been contributed too and endorsed by GE, Ushio, and Paige. LITE will be working closely with different architectural design and specfication associations as well and through our SDSP program only LITE certified installers will now be reccomended. This is a huge reason to join as participating members will be on a list for all architects to see and for all homeowner leads that we may get. More to come later but just something to think about. I will start a thread in the coming days to better explain it.

Lite4
09-21-2008, 11:16 PM
Thanks Joey, I look forward to learning more about that.

desertlights
09-22-2008, 12:00 AM
Joey D
I have been given the name of Scott Freymuller as my Nevada contact for 'Unique' do you know if he will have info re: LITE Cert. Thanks

JoeyD
09-22-2008, 10:02 AM
Not yet. We have only done some minor education on LITE with our sales team. He will soon have all the ins and outs of the certification. But if you need info soon then PM me your contact information and I will bring you up to speed. This will be the best certification for LV outdoor lighting. And you dont need to be a "Unique guy" per se to join. This is not a Unique Certification as much as it is a general LV technical, design, and specification certification that we have spear headed. Like I said previously, GE, Ushio, and Paige have all contributed too the certification testing and have already endorsed the program with many more associations and manufacturers to come on board soon!

bthomaskelly
09-22-2008, 10:14 AM
Wish it were that easy here. I have no problem with the test or the $, its just tracking down the proof from when I did electrical work in FL. Long time ago. I will start work in Colorado as all you need is insurance and a sales tax license. Its about 40 miles to the nearest nice town and will probably move that way anyway. Christmas lighting is gonna save my ass this year, finger x'ed. Here is a breakdown of the license here in WY, and it doesnt even discuss installation, WTF.
Kelly

WYOMING LIMITED LOW VOLTAGE – LIGHT FIXTURES (LM-L)

SCOPE OF WORK COVERED: This license allows limited electrical work for maintaining light fixtures. This includes routine checking and repair of light fixtures, limited to replacement of lamps, ballasts and fixture parts located in buildings and their premises.

BUSINESS AND LAW: No Business and Law Exam is required, applicants only need to pass the trade exam to obtain this license.

PRE-APPROVAL: Applicants must obtain approval to take the exam by submitting an application to the state licensing board.

EXPERIENCE REQUIRED: Applicants must document at least 2 years (4,000 hours) of experience in the category of low voltage electrical work they apply for.

FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS: There are not state mandated financial requirements for this license.

EXAM DETAILS: ICC gives the exam. It is a one-part, open-book test with 30 questions and a 1.5-hour time limit. The exam fee is $100. A score of at least 70% is needed to pass the exam.

EXAM CONTENT:
Fixtures/ Luminaries
Conductors
Box Fill
Grounding
Locations

BOND / INSURANCE: Obtaining a bond or insurance is not required by the state at this time. However, it may be required at a local level.

LICENSING FEE: The licensing fee for Limited Low Voltage Electrical licenses is $200.

PROCESSING TIME: Applications are processed as soon as they are received and approval letters are mailed within a few days.

RECIPROCITY: The state of Wyoming has no reciprocity agreements for this license.

We currently do not offer a seminar for this license. However, we have several courses still under development.