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Good time to get started in lighting?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by irrig8r, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    Mike M made a comment in another thread and I thought I could take it and start a new one with my response.

    Everyone is looking for ideas to being in more income Mike. And the manus want more people to sell to, so they will continue to encourage more people to give it a go.

    My distributor told me last week that there are general contractors doing landscaping and irrigation just to stay busy... though we are approaching the time of year when traditionally about half of the seasonal workers from Mexico would go home and spend time with families for maybe three months, many of them stay now and have brought families here... often working two jobs.

    Anyway, in a down economy, with potential clients comparing prices more, or weighing lighting vs. other expenses, competition is already up, so manus selling more people on the notion of offering lighting can't be good for those of us already doing it.

    Unfortunately it's one of those areas where designers'/ contractors'/ installers' interests are in conflict with the manus interests. They need more people to sell to to grow. We don't need the extra competition.
  2. TXNSLighting

    TXNSLighting LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 6,464

    We definately dont need the extra compaetition now...I just read an ad the other day about lighting...Call now and schedule a demo! Get 15 lights for only $995!!!

    Made me sick...
  3. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

    Have you guys been seeing manus changing their approach lately to offering more courses to beginners and beefing up marketing campaigns to encourage people to get into lighting?? I know we havent been doing anything different from what we have been doing for years in terms of our approach to potential new installers/end users.

    We have approached some different avenues of distribution such as the hardscape and pool suppliers so in that respect I guess we are trying to develop some new customers, but the idea there was to put our hardscape fixtures and underwater lights in front of guys who may be passing up the opporunity to include these as options when building permanent structures which become very hard to retrofit into.

    I can tell you I have been getting more calls from contractors and people from outside the lighting and green industry looking to get into lighting, way more then we are approaching about getting into lighting. It's times like this that buisness people look to diversify and go into areas that they previously were not interested in due to the ammount of work they were already loaded up with.

    I say if your slow in doing what your doing and your looking to diversify then this is a great time to get educated by attending seminars and hands on training courses so that when things do start to pick up you have the tools and knowledge to capitilize.

    People doing lighting now should be encouraged by comeptition. Competiton breeds awareness in areas you may not ever go into. Competition drives you to become better and to work smarter. If you work to become the best at what you do then competition should not intimidate you. Atleast thats my opinion on competiton. There will always be an argument in regards to hacks and low ballers but that is just part of being a contractor and has little to do with manus, especially in our case where our products are rarely the ones being slapped and hacked in at a low ball price.

    Remember us as a manufacturer are also in buisness and as easy as it may be to think that we are only trying to breed new competion to our already existing customer base that is not exactly the case. There are still tons and tons of areas in the US and globally that have NO outdoor landscape lighting. Those are the areas we really would love to be in, its not always about gaining another 1000 guys in California or Florida. Sometimes its about spreading awareness in areas that our current installers have no interest in.
  4. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    I understand what you are saying about increasing awareness about lighting. Probably a good idea in other areas. California consumers are mostly aware.

    I welcome competition from those with the same quality standards as mine. I don't want to participate in a "race to the bottom" as far as pricing goes. I don't want to be competing with franchise operations or anything like the ad that Ryan described...

    It's the cut-price-by-cutting-corners installers I resent. Some of them don't even bother getting a license. They don't have the same overhead. They probably won't be around long, but they'll do damage in the meantime.

    (Remember the story I told you Joey about how Mike Gambino and I compared notes a few years back and "outed" a guy who was an employee of a distributor up the SF peninsula from here who was getting your fixtures at contractor prices, advertising his services on craigslist and installing them with an outside partner... all w/o the benefit of a contractor's license?)

    One manufacturer (not Unique) offered free seminars a couple years ago, with a certificate, free food and $75 worth of coupons towards merchandise for each attendee. I saw a guy attend with 3 of his non-English speaking employees (it was not a bilingual presentation) just to get those coupons.

    One of Bill Locklin's complaints about the direction he saw this industry growing is how certain distributors and manufacturers have "turned lighting into a commodity", made it less exclusive, unveiled some of the mystery and made it more accessible to the masses. Like a magician revealing his tricks I guess... (My words not Bill's, except the quote.)
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2008
  5. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

    A race to the bottom is something we definitley dont need, look what it has done to irrigation! But thats beside the point I guess, the real question here is this a good time to get into lighting and I say yes it is. Obviously established lighting guys like yourself never want to have competiton creep in but from a new guys standpoint this would be a great time to get into lighting. Not neccesarily for the money right now but to get educated and brought up to speed so that when things do pick up they are ready to roll.

    We offered our UU's for free, still do occasionally. There was even a period of time where we would give a certificate of completion just like mechanics get after attending a 1 day course on a new engine or tool or something. But we quickly learned that we were doing a diservice.

    Anyone who has attended one of Nate's courses in the last 5 years knows that he usually starts the class off by asking "who here thinks that after attending my one day class that you will become an expert in lighting?" Those who raised there hands were told that if they truly believed this then they should get up and leave because becoming a professional comes with time and years of training and experience. A certificate after a one day class is a joke unless that class is followed up with a very comprehensive test both written and hands on to see how much they really know and retained.

    With all due respect I am not sure I agree with Bill's outlook on lighting becoming a commodity. In one respect I agree with that statement from a standpoint that we dont need bottom feeder manufacturers popping up left and right knocking off ones products over seas to sell them at bottom barrel pricing. These knock off companies are trying to create a race for the bottom whether they realize it or not or whether they want to admit it or not. That is why supporting these guys (we all know who they area) is a bad thing because it is creating a race for the bottom in lighting. But where I disagree is I think that as the industry grows and homeowners become more and more aware of lighting and its benefits, it is impossible for the industry to not grow and for options to not become more increasingly popular and available. I am sure Bill would have liked for Nightscaping and its distributing partners to have remianed one of the handfull of companies dedicated to LV landscape lighting and in my opinion that could have been the underlying reason for his statement. I may be way off on that, and my intention is not to argue Mr. Locklin's statement as I am in no way going to pretend I know as much as he did about this industry and about lighting in general. It is just my sole opinion.
  6. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Wait a minute... what are you saying here Joey? Are you suggesting that the current economic climate is conducive for a "new guy" to invest a lot of time, capital and sweat into opening a lighting business? If this is what you do in fact mean, then I would have to suggest you ate something funny for lunch! Go home and sleep it off man! :laugh:

    From my seat all I see are a bunch of things like recession, compression, depression, negative growth, foreclosures, and loans being called in. This is most certainly NOT the time for a "new guy" to be getting into lighting. Those of us who are already 'into lighting' are going to be aggressively working the market and our networks to drum up any business that does exist. The chance for a 'new guy' to make it in this environment is highly doubtful.

    Now, if you are talking about an established green industry business branching off and developing a lighting division, things might not be so bad. But to advise a "new guy" to get into this market at this point in time is bad advice from my point of view.

    Joey, I am asking you this because I don't know, not because I am trying to slight you..... Have you ever opened a business and built it into a successful, profitable venture? Do you know what it takes (first hand experience) to put your home up, max out your credit cards, live from the grace of friends and family and put everything on the line to ensure your business chugs through the lean times?

    Let's not kid ourselves... Landscape lighting is the icing on the cake. It is not yet considered a necessity by anyone that I know. From what I see, there are fewer and fewer cakes being baked. There is no need to encourage vegetable vendors to become bakers is there?
  7. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

  8. Mike M

    Mike M LawnSite Bronze Member
    from usa
    Messages: 1,988

    I think we are just seeing a lot of scrambling in a temporary phantom market. Contractors and manu's trying to save their businesses by reaching out, diversifying, trying things, and spending money to do so.

    Just because people are paying bucks to advertise, whether it's manu's or guys advertising ten lights for a thousand bucks, doesn't mean their campaigns are actually working.

    My opinion.

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