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  #31  
Old 02-10-2011, 03:19 PM
Alan B Alan B is offline
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Scott,

This is why one of many reasons I do not post much. It can quickly deteriorate and I will not join you. I said what I needed to in my post above.

Good luck to you.
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Alan
President/CEO
VOLT® Lighting
(813) 978-3700



LED Landscape Lighting
LED Outdoor Lighting
Low Voltage Transformers
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  #32  
Old 02-10-2011, 03:22 PM
indylights indylights is offline
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Alan,

Good luck to you as well. And I'm still waiting for anyone to answer my questions. They were legitimate.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes
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  #33  
Old 02-10-2011, 04:41 PM
Alan B Alan B is offline
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Ok sure.

To answer your question what value here's a partial list:

-Superior Quality than what most contractors are used to. The biggest volume of sales for both consumer and professional lights is aluminum. A co like JDL or Ewing will stock and sells mainly aluminum. Even some of the established cast brass manu's are now getting a majority of their sales not from cast brass but from value lines (sheet brass). The reality is most contractors can not afford cast brass and thus instead have been buying aluminum (or sheet brass). Now they can UPGRADE their quality. There is no excuse not to use cast brass.

-Superior inventory. Cast brass is not inventoried/inventoried well by many distributors and often special ordered. We inventory deep and ship same day. You need 250 sconces shipped today-- we are one of the few that can do it.

-Top service. Rarely voice mail during business hours. Live help. We help and trouble shoot contractors. No questions asked return policy. Warranty items ship same day. Contractors love our service. Not putting down or saying others don't do the same, but nothing beats speaking directly to the MANUFACTURER. (eg, I have called irrigation distributors inquiring about a mainstream competitors product-- the salesman did not know even basic details). Not all are that way, but no one knows more about a product than the manufacturer of said product.

-We deliver to your door, A contractor doesn't need to make a special trip to a store (or two trips if its special ordered/drop shipped). Very helpful to a lot of people especially in rural areas.

-Open 24 hr day for ordering-- order late, at night, or weekends on your own schedule. Enables contractors to focus on installing and building their business during the critical 8-5pm time.

Use the savings to increase QUALITY of the product you buy (that's a big value added). Use the manufacturer direct price savings to increase PROFITS (that's a big value added). Use the savings to close jobs you wouldn't normally get (again big value added).

-Enable the contractor to differentiate themselves and close more business. In this down economy everyone is going down in price. In variably most of your competitors are showing the customer aluminum. If you can go in and put a 3 lbs cast brass fixture in their hands and still be somewhat close in price... you will CLOSE MORE SALES.

-No hassle warranty. Read our warranty-- or speak to someone who has used it. I am not aware of a lifetime warranty that is better, with fewer manufacturer loopholes. Call us an we send out items same day.

-Not everyone lives near a convenient irrigation dealer store. Even if they do, often the product they want is not available. We provide access to thousands who do not have the luxury of being close to a contractor store.

-We elevate the industry by offering high quality components and systems that last. More people are improving their fixture quality by buying our products than people who are moving down in quality. You'd have a tough argument saying anything was a move down, it would certainly be arguable. If you did, you have not seen our fixtures recently.

-Distribution in our industry is old school and inefficient and you the contractors pay for it. Want a light? The process is so inefficient. You pay a lot for that light, yet no one is making very much money-- why? Waste and inefficiency. We are challenging the established system and bring alternative options. It will help spur progress and choice.

As far as your list, I believe the only things on your list we don't offer are design services (which is touchy anyways), in person training, or pick-up of fixtures the same day, like a store can for their stocked items.

We offer high quality products for the lowest price available, shipped same day, delivered to their door, open 24 hrs a day for ordering, backed with a no hassle warranty and friendly full service. We streamline and make the distribution of lighting supplies more efficient. These are some of the value we offer.

Thank you for the opportunity to point out some of the value we add.

Sincerely,
__________________
Alan
President/CEO
VOLT® Lighting
(813) 978-3700



LED Landscape Lighting
LED Outdoor Lighting
Low Voltage Transformers
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  #34  
Old 02-10-2011, 04:58 PM
indylights indylights is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gr1ffin View Post
Ok sure.

To answer your question what value here's a partial list:

-Superior Quality than what most contractors are used to. The biggest volume of sales for both consumer and professional lights is aluminum. A co like JDL or Ewing will stock and sells mainly aluminum. Even some of the established cast brass manu's are now getting a majority of their sales not from cast brass but from value lines (sheet brass). The reality is most contractors can not afford cast brass and thus instead have been buying aluminum (or sheet brass). Now they can UPGRADE their quality. There is no excuse not to use cast brass.

-Superior inventory. Cast brass is not inventoried/inventoried well by many distributors and often special ordered. We inventory deep and ship same day. You need 250 sconces shipped today-- we are one of the few that can do it.

-Top service. Rarely voice mail during business hours. Live help. We help and trouble shoot contractors. No questions asked return policy. Warranty items ship same day. Contractors love our service. Not putting down or saying others don't do the same, but nothing beats speaking directly to the MANUFACTURER. (eg, I have called irrigation distributors inquiring about a mainstream competitors product-- the salesman did not know even basic details). Not all are that way, but no one knows more about a product than the manufacturer of said product.

-We deliver to your door, A contractor doesn't need to make a special trip to a store (or two trips if its special ordered/drop shipped). Very helpful to a lot of people especially in rural areas.

-Open 24 hr day for ordering-- order late, at night, or weekends on your own schedule. Enables contractors to focus on installing and building their business during the critical 8-5pm time.

Use the savings to increase QUALITY of the product you buy (that's a big value added). Use the manufacturer direct price savings to increase PROFITS (that's a big value added). Use the savings to close jobs you wouldn't normally get (again big value added).

-Enable the contractor to differentiate themselves and close more business. In this down economy everyone is going down in price. In variably most of your competitors are showing the customer aluminum. If you can go in and put a 3 lbs cast brass fixture in their hands and still be somewhat close in price... you will CLOSE MORE SALES.

-No hassle warranty. Read our warranty-- or speak to someone who has used it. I am not aware of a lifetime warranty that is better, with fewer manufacturer loopholes. Call us an we send out items same day.

-Not everyone lives near a convenient irrigation dealer store. Even if they do, often the product they want is not available. We provide access to thousands who do not have the luxury of being close to a contractor store.

-We elevate the industry by offering high quality components and systems that last. More people are improving their fixture quality by buying our products than people who are moving down in quality. You'd have a tough argument saying anything was a move down, it would certainly be arguable. If you did, you have not seen our fixtures recently.

-Distribution in our industry is old school and inefficient and you the contractors pay for it. Want a light? The process is so inefficient. You pay a lot for that light, yet no one is making very much money-- why? Waste and inefficiency. We are challenging the established system and bring alternative options. It will help spur progress and choice.

As far as your list, I believe the only things on your list we don't offer are design services (which is touchy anyways), in person training, or pick-up of fixtures the same day, like a store can for their stocked items.

We offer high quality products for the lowest price available, shipped same day, delivered to their door, open 24 hrs a day for ordering, backed with a no hassle warranty and friendly full service. We streamline and make the distribution of lighting supplies more efficient. These are some of the value we offer.

Thank you for the opportunity to point out some of the value we add.

Sincerely,

You're welcome. We disagree on the definition of "quality" and several other things, but no one wants to read my rants anymore. Take care.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes
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  #35  
Old 02-10-2011, 06:05 PM
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extlights extlights is offline
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If someone is new trying to break into this industry I can understand how a distributor can help them get started. Design, techniques, troubleshooting etc are all things that they can assist with. With that said though, if someone has been in the business for a while and are capable they should no longer need that assistance. We don't use a traditional distributor to get our products because of many reasons. We've been in business long enough to the point that we don't need a distributor. We don't use an online supplier either, but I see nothing wrong with it.

In my opinion from the business end of things there are more disadvantages to using a traditional supplier. I have never used Volt products, however with what seems like a strong business model that Alan has, I can see how guys might sway to an online supplier like that.

One thing that really stands out in this business is the definition of quality. Just because one guy doesn't like a certain brand of fixture doesn't mean it's junk. Their is one major brand that many guys here use that I will 100% not use. Does it mean that it's junk? No.....but different climates, soil, and other conditions play a major role in what everyone uses and this particular brand hasn't worked out well for us around here.

So I guess for me, I see nothing wrong with online distributors vs. traditional. If you don't need anything but supplies then why not? If Alan can produce the services that he mentions, my question would be why use a regular distributor?
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  #36  
Old 02-10-2011, 09:45 PM
irrig8r irrig8r is offline
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I don't think this thread was reallydeteriorating Alan.

I think it has been a fairly civil discussion, with some good back and forth and good points made by both sides.

Unless something was removed, I didn't see any insults or cheap shots. Good information. Thought provoking discussion.
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  #37  
Old 02-11-2011, 12:41 AM
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JimLewis JimLewis is online now
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Location: Beaverton, OR
Posts: 6,402
Alan,

I must say that last response of yours was one of the best defenses I've ever seen made on Lawnsite in any forum. Nice, very well thought out response. Excellent points.

I must admit, I'm reconsidering which direction I want to head every day, as I learn and research more about LED and other directions I might head. And more and more I'm considering Volt.

I do agree that there is plenty of room for both your traditional chain of lighting sales and online (discounted) sales. I think there are probably always going to be plenty of people who really need local help, training and availability. But I also think there will continually be a growing number of people who, as they get to the point where they aren't as dependent on local support and aren't so concerned about local availability, who will begin to look for other, less expensive avenues to purchase quality lighting products. And you meet that need.

We had the same argument in the irrigation industry. Irrigators and distributors used to get all worked up when Toro and Rain Bird (and now Hunter) started selling their wares to the general public in the big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe's - As if that was going to just ruin their business. Over time, everyone pretty much settled down, once they all realized there was plenty of room for all.

The suggestion that you can't buy quality products online or that you can't buy quality products for less than the prices we currently pay for at distributors is rather ludicrous. As if local distributors have a 100% lock on quality products. And that's the only place I'm ever going to find good quality stuff. I'm sorry, I don't buy that.

Interested conversation, though. That's for sure. I never thought my post would get anywhere near this involved into so many different thoughts!
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Lewis Landscape Services - Oregon
"kickin' grass and takin' names"


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  #38  
Old 02-11-2011, 12:51 AM
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The Lighting Geek The Lighting Geek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by INTEGRA Works Lighting View Post
Tommy, your response here surprises me. "fixtures don't matter"? Really? Do you really believe that?

Thankfully there are a large number of designers and product manufacturer's out there who do not share this viewpoint. I sure don't subscribe to it. The fixtures sure as heck DO matter, both to me and to my clients. You can put all of your energy, passion, talent (and quality lamps) into installing marginal fixtures and end up with a mess after only a short while.

Besides that... using low quality and low cost components makes building a successful and profitable business quite the challenge. I have said it for years; If you want to make more money (and build a better reputation) in this business one way to ensure that is to install better quality products. You make more on the installation and you have a more satisfied client in the long run as maintenance and repairs are significantly reduced. I will not even begin to talk about aesthetics, product differentiation, and the ability to accessorize / specify, but all are big considerations for pro designers and installers.

"See the effect, not the source" is a concept I have built my business on, but is sure doesn't mean that the fixtures we use don't matter.

Regards
James, rest assured, I was not implying that fixtures are an important part of the overall equation. I was merely making the point the effect is more important than what the fixture looks like. I was assuming we were talking about quality fixtures to begin with. We are on the same page most of the time :-)
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  #39  
Old 02-11-2011, 12:59 AM
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The Lighting Geek The Lighting Geek is offline
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Just to clear things up, I use the products I use by choice. I use predominately use Kichler for their LED line. I also use Volt and Unique. I like most of the Volt line because it is good stuff. I don't take chances on products, it is not worth it. If anyone wants to discuss in more detail what i am using and why, just pm me.

It is possible for both types of businesses (distribution vs. direct) to co-exist, in fact they have for some time now. 80% of my purchases are through distribution. NOBODY makes what I want for the other 20% but Volt.
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  #40  
Old 02-11-2011, 10:33 PM
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Lite4 Lite4 is offline
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indylights View Post
Alan,

Good luck to you as well. And I'm still waiting for anyone to answer my questions. They were legitimate.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes
Ok, I'll bite Scott. I have received better service from Alan than any of the 3 local vendors you and I frequent here in Indy.

You speak of local support from vendors, ha, what a joke. The last time I had a decent manu rep was back in Idaho who simply just took me to dinner whenever he was in town. (which earned a lot of loyalty from me at the time, he was a great rep). Most of the time when I ask for something specific at a local vendor I just get a blank stare. None of them have a clue about what I am talking about, (really, where is the value here?). When I know more about lighting than all of them combined how are they going to help me in the field? (where is the value here?). When they don't deliver to my job site, I have to take 2 hours out of my work day and go to their location to get product, when ordering online it comes right to my doorstep. (where is the value in a local brick and mortar here?) When I have to pay 2-3 times as much for an equal product or parts and have to wait two to three times as long to receive them (really?, where is this value you are so emphatic about?) Most manu reps have to cover such a large area they are never around if you ever really needed something done. When they are in town they are not interested in the lighting professional who might actually buy a good deal of product from them if they would even try to establish a relationship with them. Nope, they are more interested in putting on free seminars and drawing in more trunk slammers to the industry who will buy 20-30 fixtures and 2 transformers from them in a season. (what a joke, tell me, where is the value I am paying more for?)

To their credit, Kenney up on 96th has been fantastic to work with. Jeff is incredibly helpful,but they simply just do not carry enough variety and quantity of product on their shelves to be an effective distributor.

Furthermore, I have held Alans product in my hand and have used a good number of his fixtures and transformers. I am not sure what you had in your hand, but the ones I have are right on par with Uniques fixtures, Just without all the fancy packaging. He does have a few that are lighter guage brass, much like Uniques brass night series fixtures too. (maybe that is what you had) The customer service is fantastic too and Alan is incredibly knowledgable.

So in light of this, why wouldn't I buy from a distributor that gets me product in 2-3 days, has high quality products, very reasonable pricing and very responsive customer service? I think you are simply too caught up on "name brands". Now to be fair I do still purchase from the main line manus, but I also don't limit my options either. I believe you will see more quality products coming to web in the future. (is there junk out there? oh yeah, no doubt about it). You just have to do your research and you will uncover some incredible finds.

Ok, let me have it. I am sure the hate mail is going to come my way now telling my I am a trunk slammer, I am racing to the bottom, I am ruining the industry, kablah kablah kablah! The proof is in the P and L at the end of the seaon and my happy clients.

Tommy, see the effect, not the source (albeight, the high quality source).
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