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Mike M
11-21-2008, 08:04 AM
I am curious how things are going regionally.

It is dead here, not just lighting.

worx
11-21-2008, 09:31 AM
Here in N.W. Florida I think it's business as usual, but to put that in perspective with the rest of the country, it feels like we're always in a recession. Most people here HATE to spend money....this is the last strong hold of the "tightwads". So for me to compare this regionally would be tough, when everyone else comes out of this I'll still be in the same boat. But with that being said, I have been fortunate to have a few jobs (northern transplants) rolling in.

Venturewest
11-21-2008, 09:34 AM
Things are still relatively strong here. I have surveyed all my local vendors where I do business and they say there is no differance from previous years. Some of the home builders have gone under, but I think that was a weeding out. Every direction you drive there are houses in all phases of construction in every price range. The million and up range is selling strong but lower end homes have dropped off.

I can think of ten new housing developements that are being built as we speak. I am landscaping the entrance of one them right now. I can't say specifically if lighting has slowed down here because I don't do enough to know, but I would say that all indicators point to lighting still selling well for the time being. I normally install Christmas lighting on 20 homes and there was no change there either. The ones I lost because of moves were easily replaced with new ones. 2 Christmas light clients are serious about getting lighting once their lights are down.

I am as optimistic about lighting this winter as I have ever been. That being said, no one move here unless you want to be partners. :)

Mike M
11-21-2008, 10:44 AM
Howdy, partner! (haha)

No joke, an hour or so after I began this thread I got a phone call with a consultation/demo cancellation. She asked to reschedule after January. And she was pre-qualified and booked one week ago.

I have to get steady work, and I have some things in the making, falling back on my teaching, but out of state.

TPendagast
11-21-2008, 03:22 PM
Hey venturewest, you need help? I come cheap this time of year!

NC Greenscaper
11-21-2008, 03:25 PM
[/QUOTE] That being said, no one move here unless you want to be partners. :)[/QUOTE]

Could you be a little more specific on where here is? :laugh:

TXNSLighting
11-21-2008, 03:41 PM
Things are still relatively strong here. I have surveyed all my local vendors where I do business and they say there is no differance from previous years. Some of the home builders have gone under, but I think that was a weeding out. Every direction you drive there are houses in all phases of construction in every price range. The million and up range is selling strong but lower end homes have dropped off.

I can think of ten new housing developements that are being built as we speak. I am landscaping the entrance of one them right now. I can't say specifically if lighting has slowed down here because I don't do enough to know, but I would say that all indicators point to lighting still selling well for the time being. I normally install Christmas lighting on 20 homes and there was no change there either. The ones I lost because of moves were easily replaced with new ones. 2 Christmas light clients are serious about getting lighting once their lights are down.


I am as optimistic about lighting this winter as I have ever been. That being said, no one move here unless you want to be partners. :)

Hey im pretty close to you! Ill be a partner!

Desertdweller
11-22-2008, 10:12 AM
Slow here, both irrigation and lighting. We went from 6 techs to 3 now. Just trying to pay the bills through the winter. There is always work come spring.

NightScenes
11-22-2008, 03:55 PM
Things are still steady in the landscape and architectural lighting around here. I'm not pulling my hair out busy but I haven't had to let anyone go yet. We are pulling our hair out busy in Christmas lighting right now however. We'll be busy through the end of January and I hope things start to pick up more after the changing of the guard.

David Gretzmier
11-23-2008, 12:42 AM
we closed 40 new Christmas light clients last year, and only had one person let us go last year out of about 100 rehangs. that was larger than usual new customers and unusually low turnover. I braced for a larger than usual turnover this year and hoped for an equal number of new customers. I have closed 25 new customers, with 2 more selling weeks in Christmas lights to go, but I have seen alot of old customers move on this year. I have not kept count, but I would say at least 10-15 customers are not hanging thier lights this year and are probably done. I have had a couple of dozen or so folks say they want landscape lighting in the spring, so I hope that pans out to at least a dozen jobs or more to jumpstart the year.

Doing bids for Christmas Lights has put me in front of a lot of folks who won't do Christmas, but are interested in landscape lighting. all my Christmas bids this year came in a nice full color folder with photo's of my landscape light jobs. we'll see if that pays off or not.

eskerlite
11-23-2008, 12:37 PM
I have done less lighting this year than last. My season last year and years before started in late august and went till the snow started flying. This year it was sporadic at best. It means I have to market more and get my name out there. Many companies locally are trying to extract more income from there companies without alot of start up cost. They think lighting will be one good way to do this. I want to do their lighting for them and we can all make money. The learning curve goes hand in hand with time. Time is the factor for learning how long your connections,fixtures and installation technique's will hold up to your climate and soil. I have been working with outdoor lighting for 20 years now and can install a long lasting,impressive looking,efficient,value priced,profit making lighting system that would take many years for a new lighting company to install with all the same features. Let them add 10-20% on your price.I would even travel this winter to help anyone down south or out west. Sub out to other contractors with your expertise and this next year will be better than last I hope. This is my plan.

Sean C.
www.dbcurraninc.com

NightScenes
11-23-2008, 04:09 PM
David, I do see that Christmas lighting is a great cross over lighting business. Our landscape lighting clients seem to almost automatically become our Christmas lighting clients and then our new Christmas lighting clients usually want a landscape lighting proposal around spring.

irrig8r
11-23-2008, 04:18 PM
There is still custom homebuilding and major remodeling and some commercial construction of both condos and retail going on, but it's all slowed down. But then it usually does this time of year, as the rains begin and a lot of the Mexican workforce goes home for the winter, so it's hard to tell which is which.

Lots of for lease signs on commercial properties, but I still see new retail businesses starting up too... specialty food places like an Italian bakery and gelato shop for instance.... and a new Hooters opened in town
:-)

A friend of mine said he signed a $500K complete landscape job in September... I should check with him and see if any of that was scaled back.

I'm still busy on both the lighting and sprinkler fronts, even some complete install requests coming in.

My biggest problem this past year was more requests for work than I could handle on my own, and no desire to take on the additional overhead and other risks of expansion... I hate saying no as much as I had to, but that included everything from full landscape requests (referred them to friends) to repairs when I was too busy, to revamping or replacement of old systems (my main gig.)

I still see a lot of home improvement projects going on... just not so much all at once as before.

Mark B
11-23-2008, 08:57 PM
it has been slow until last week. I just finished the best lighting job ever. Here is a short story. Total 45 fixtures all well lights. The fun part was 13 of them I had to core drill out the pavers in the driveway and along the front door area. I had to pull up the pavers install the fixture and put the pavers back.

While I did job I got ask to do 2 service calls and look at pricing 2 other installs both will need some core drilling.

BTW I went with a regular core drill with a 6" bit. I will post pics when I get my computer. It looks like I can relax through the winter and kill some deer. Yiippie.

worx
11-24-2008, 10:39 AM
That's good news sleepyhead. I just did my first core drill job and was a little nervous. I used a 6" core bit and the drill press style drill. Everything went smooth as butter. Hopefully I will land another project or two and join the rest of the deer hunters in time for the rut.

Lite4
11-24-2008, 08:43 PM
Our economy locally was based so much on construction that everything has tanked here. There are companies going out of business left and right from lack of work here. Unemployment is way up locally. Business for me was pretty good until June and then it took a nose dive and has not recovered. I am looking for another permanent full time job and will just do lighting on the side again. I just don't see things getting any better here for a long while, especially with the new tax increases coming our way from Mr. Obama

TPendagast
11-25-2008, 01:06 AM
Our economy locally was based so much on construction that everything has tanked here. There are companies going out of business left and right from lack of work here. Unemployment is way up locally. Business for me was pretty good until June and then it took a nose dive and has not recovered. I am looking for another permanent full time job and will just do lighting on the side again. I just don't see things getting any better here for a long while, especially with the new tax increases coming our way from Mr. Obama

Here here on that. Not many people really understand what is going on in this area of Idaho until you live it.

Business was already doing poorly up the mountain here in McCall when spring came But August things basically shut down. There is like four companies left up here that do any work and Franz Witte is one of them.

Chris J
11-25-2008, 09:49 PM
I don't want to jinx myself, but business is excellent at the moment, and has been for quite some time recently. I really don't know if it's because of my marketing, or some kind of swing in the economics of my city, but I'm pretty satisfied with business right now. My only wish is that this surge in business will not completely die out in the upcoming months. If history repeats itself, new installs will slow in January, and then pick up again near the end of the first quarter. Either way, I'm hoarding all I can to get me through any more slow periods.

Mike M
11-26-2008, 08:22 AM
Chris,

Good to hear from you! I like the "hoarding" idea, I swear when things get better I won't forget to be more diligent.

My area is socked like Tim's. Too much of our local economy (like all of it) had been tied tightly to the boom in new construction.

Of course there is work here and there, but not enough for a new business to grow on. This is all about survival mode.

Mike

Lite4
11-26-2008, 10:54 AM
Here here on that. Not many people really understand what is going on in this area of Idaho until you live it.

Business was already doing poorly up the mountain here in McCall when spring came But August things basically shut down. There is like four companies left up here that do any work and Franz Witte is one of them.

Wow, someone from my area. Good to see you here on lawnsite. Yeah, companies like Franz are big enough to weather the storm for a while. But pretty soon if it goes on long enough even they will feel the pinch and have to cut back on operations. Have they cut into your market share a lot? They simply have a name that everyone knows around here, I am sure they are not lowering their prices much.

TPendagast
11-26-2008, 12:16 PM
Wow, someone from my area. Good to see you here on lawnsite. Yeah, companies like Franz are big enough to weather the storm for a while. But pretty soon if it goes on long enough even they will feel the pinch and have to cut back on operations. Have they cut into your market share a lot? They simply have a name that everyone knows around here, I am sure they are not lowering their prices much.

Well they certainly didnt lower their prices. But I think their tactic that works is to pay their employees a more realistic wage than alot of companies got used to and they only pay hourly.

For example, it was common for a landscape foreman to get say $40,000 a year. Franz pays $17/hr. if you multiply that out over the 2000 hours in a season that you can normally work, it's only $34,000 but then there is OT when it is necessary.
Managed right OT can be a powerful tool, but a lot of companies are afraid of it and want to go salary. But see OT keeps the pay happening when the money is comming in, and the guy gets laid off when the revenue is not there.

I think this is the key to how they operate over others. They stuck to their guns with the hourly wages, even when things were good and they didnt try to wave fancy salary packages at people to get "good people"

That foreman with overtime probably still gets around $40,000 in a year, but isn't pulling a salary this time of year, draining the coffers.

Im actually trying to talk to franz and see if I cant either merge with their operations up here, or be a 1099 sub for them. I do alot of things better than they do, namely Irrigation, water features, lowvoltage lighting and highend hardscapes.
I think Id like to stick to that, and am willing to travel to do those kinds of jobs (working with both the boise camp as well as up here). Im going to drop any and all maintenance, planting jobs, chem work and any/all employees.
My business partner moved to ST. George UT so mowing equipment is going down there where there are alot more lawns (we've got like 84 plus already on the list as aooposed to the 22 we had up here)
He will run maintenance ops down there, I will do designs via email, and travel down there to do the higher end on site work if and when it is sold.

Anyway that is my plan for next year, broaden the area I will work in, but narrow the type of work Im actually going to do. and try and team up with those who have the work, offering them the expertise that they could only dream of by hiring a foreman.

The Lighting Geek
11-27-2008, 01:07 PM
Even though I had to go get a job, which has worked VERY nicely, I have not diminished my marketing or networking. I have obviously adjusted my overall marketing plan, but I am working on situating myself for the future. I believe in the Spring I will merge my company with the one I am currently working for. The owners have been friends of mine for some time and we have the same business philosophy. The name 'The Lighting Geek' and all of my marketing will remain and will be added to an already existing and well established list of services that Kemper offers. Everyone in the company is certified and well trained. The level of professionalism the client experiences results in many thank you letters and accolades on a daily basis.

So, getting a job may not be a bad thing. I have been asked to do a live shoot in the early morning for the top morning show here locally. I also have been asked to participate in more shows for the 3rd season on DIY. I am networking with other contractors, designers, and complimentary services to lighting. Even though it is a really tough market right now, it shouldn't keep you from working on the future.

TXNSLighting
11-27-2008, 01:45 PM
Even though I had to go get a job, which has worked VERY nicely, I have not diminished my marketing or networking. I have obviously adjusted my overall marketing plan, but I am working on situating myself for the future. I believe in the Spring I will merge my company with the one I am currently working for. The owners have been friends of mine for some time and we have the same business philosophy. The name 'The Lighting Geek' and all of my marketing will remain and will be added to an already existing and well established list of services that Kemper offers. Everyone in the company is certified and well trained. The level of professionalism the client experiences results in many thank you letters and accolades on a daily basis.

So, getting a job may not be a bad thing. I have been asked to do a live shoot in the early morning for the top morning show here locally. I also have been asked to participate in more shows for the 3rd season on DIY. I am networking with other contractors, designers, and complimentary services to lighting. Even though it is a really tough market right now, it shouldn't keep you from working on the future.

I was wondering if you were doin anymore with that show. They replay your first two quite often.

The Lighting Geek
11-27-2008, 03:09 PM
Season 2 will start in Jan 09. I have 2 more episodes in that season plus what ever happens in season 3. There are discussions for a another show where I might be a part of an ensemble that does every episode. Thats all I know for now.

TXNSLighting
11-27-2008, 11:06 PM
Season 2 will start in Jan 09. I have 2 more episodes in that season plus what ever happens in season 3. There are discussions for a another show where I might be a part of an ensemble that does every episode. Thats all I know for now.

That would be to fantastic!