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starry night
02-29-2012, 01:43 PM
Bernie would probably not toot his own horn so I will alert you to a good article he wrote in the current issue of "Lawn and Landscape."

http://www.lawnandlandscape.com/ll0212-custom-designer-lighting.aspx

David Gretzmier
02-29-2012, 02:42 PM
very good article.

Luckily in my market I am not competing with a "bulk lighting installer"-yet. I tend to only compete with landscapers who really have no clue what they are doing. But I do find bulk stuff that is what most of my clients want- uplight the house and maybe a few trees. a path light or two by the drive entry area, etc. The article is correct- asking safety, security, walking paths and patio/entertainment usage questions does tend to get you into the more detailed aspect of designing lighting solutions for folks. Sometimes you have to help clients discover what their needs are, or rather what their property could be, rather than what they initially think they want. I find myself saying to folks on lighting ideas- "do you know what would be really interesting? "

On the "initial meeting with only both decision makers" is great in theory but difficult in execution. asking a lead to have both spouses or decision makers at the appointment is touchy at best. The unspoken implication is out there as soon as you mention it even in the nicest way-the person on the phone does not have the true authority to spend money, don't waste my time, etc. I have lost bids or leads just by asking.

bcg
02-29-2012, 03:31 PM
Thanks for posting the link, Phil.

If anyone is interested in the unedited version, I have a copy of it on my site at http://www.starshineoftexas.com/files/article1.pdf.

David, those landscapers you describe are exactly who I mean when I say "bulk lighting installer." They're the guys that are selling fixtures, not effects, and really aren't giving any thought to making their designs unique.

S&MLL
02-29-2012, 05:23 PM
Thanks for posting the link, Phil.

If anyone is interested in the unedited version, I have a copy of it on my site at http://www.starshineoftexas.com/files/article1.pdf.

David, those landscapers you describe are exactly who I mean when I say "bulk lighting installer." They're the guys that are selling fixtures, not effects, and really aren't giving any thought to making their designs unique.

Nice write up

Alan B
02-29-2012, 06:02 PM
Bernie,

Nice article, congratulations. I always enjoy your photos as well.

Sincerely,

Alan

Lite4
03-02-2012, 07:03 AM
Good article Bernie, I couldn't agree more. Very nice pics by the way, the color rendering looks perfect.

starry night
03-02-2012, 10:44 AM
As many of you know, I am a longtime landscaper just getting started in lighting.
I especially appreciated one of Bernie's points: that it can be helpful to look outside from inside the home. I have often done this when designing landscaping but hadn't thought about it from the lighting aspect. Thanks for making that connection for me, Bernie.

steveparrott
03-03-2012, 10:07 AM
Very nice article Bernie. I'd like to see another one where you share more of your insights on the subtleties of design - targeted to homeowners - we need to spread our enthusiasm into the end-user market so more and more homeowners will learn to appreciate the finer points.

By the way, we featured Bernie in our "Masters of Landscape Lighting" series in our blog. Read the blog (http://www.cast-lighting.com/blog/2011/10/masters-of-landscape-lighting-bernie-granier-starshine-of-texas/).

I'd love to do more in this series and bring more recognition to many great designers using our products - send me a note (mailto:stevep@cast-lighting.com) if you'd like to be considered for the series.

bcg
03-04-2012, 03:55 PM
Thanks to all of you for the encouragement.

Phil - regarding looking at the job from inside, I kind of stumbled on that by accident on a job after it was done. There was a beautiful birch tree outside the master bedroom window that I uplit. This window as above the bed, from about 7' to close to the 10' ceiling. At night, the view of the uplit tree through that window was really breathtaking, it looked like a beautiful painting hanging on the wall. Since then, I've made it a point to look at things from inside the house and imagine how it's going to look at night.

Steve - I've been meaning to re-work this article for the consumer rather than other lighting guys but haven't had a lot of success. Thanks for posting the link to the blog you wrote on me as well.

NightScenes
03-12-2012, 03:27 PM
Good stuff there buddy! We always look at projects from the inside and clients feel that I really am looking at the whole project. I also point out to them that since they're paying, they should have a great view!

JimLewis
03-21-2012, 11:01 PM
Bernie,

So I remember seeing this thread a week or two ago here in this forum. But then I got caught up with something else and forgot all about it.

Fast forward to this morning. I was taking a break from the rain and going through my landscape trade magazines. I picked up Lawn & Landscape and started reading threw it. Then all of a sudden I was reading your article! I was like, "Whoa! I know this guy! I've got pictures with this guy! This must be that article I read about on Lawnsite!"

Very cool, Bernie! Quite a nice feature article!

A lot of what you said in the article is what we talked about a little last time we met for dinner there in Phoenix. I don't disagree with any of it. But I'm not sure the way you run or envision your lighting company is exactly always the best or only way to do it. The vast majority of the lighting we do comes from all of the landscape construction jobs we do. They go hand and hand. We're not a 'bulk lighting installer' as you describe it. But we're also not quite the custom high end lighting designer that you describe in the article. And yet it's been a very successful business for us. One that is growing more than almost any other service we provide.

The other thing is that we have a few limiting factors here. One, there aren't many properties in the area I live in that are anywhere near as nice as the ones in your photos. The majority of people we work for just don't have homes that would justify quite that nice of a lighting system. Two, outdoor living isn't nearly as big here as it is in warmer states, since you can't even do anything in your yard for 7 or 8 months of every year. So lighting isn't quite as big of a deal here as it obviously is in warmer states. Evidenced by the fact that whenever I travel to Palm Springs, San Diego, or Phoenix I always notice that lighting is WAY more prominent in residential neighborhoods there than it is here.

Not to say that it's not possible for me to create a whole second company, like you have, and market that company as a high end lighting designer, etc. It's just to say that I don't want to mess with all that. We're pretty happy just installing lighting along with our landscapes and it's been a profitable part of the business. So I'm happy with the way we do it.

Anyway, great article and great points throughout. I think we lay somewhere in between bulk lighting designer and what you describe.

Any chance I'll be seeing you in Costa Rica in Jan-Feb. next year? Maybe we can discuss this all more over a Margarita! :)

bcg
03-21-2012, 11:20 PM
Thanks, Jim.

Honestly, I doubt I'll sell enough new work to qualify for the trip next year. Being that I don't need to sell any lighting to keep the lights on, I've been really bad (or good, depending on who you are) about cherry picking only the jobs I want. That means I'm only doing 4 - 6 jobs a year but they're jobs I thoroughly enjoy.

JimLewis
03-21-2012, 11:30 PM
Nice. Well, that's a good position to be in. I'm not 100% sure we'll be going. But I'm hoping so. I don't even know what our Kichler points look like right now. My rep. is looking into it for me. I'm thinking that based on last year's sales plus this year's sales we may have enough. I'll know more in the next day or two. Then, if we're anywhere close, I'm going to sign up for it. I love trips to sunny places in the winter. Even if I have to pitch in for part of it, we'll likely go. I can't stand being in Oregon most of the time. But the winter times are especially depressing here. So these little getaways that our suppliers and manufacturers take us on are something I always love. Just got back from an amazing Caribbean cruise with Rain Bird a month ago. We had enough points that we even got to take our 3 kids and my father in law. That was such a nice break. But I always come back wanting more!