Malibu Landscape Lighting exiting business

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by TRabic, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187


    Sorry to hear you will have to be looking for other means of income. These times are tough for a lot of people and changes are having to be made all around. Unfortunately I can't say I am sorry to hear Malibu exiting the stage but I am sure some other product will jump in a take their place. I know they were trying to offer a cheap product to the market place, but in reality they have actually done far more harm to the legitimate low voltage lighting industry than good.

    The following remarks are primarily targeted towards Hampton Bay and Malibu products, the LOWES vs. HOME DEPOT brands.

    They have provided product without education to the general masses. Any legitimate lighting guy knows that simply telling a customer all they have to do is daisy chain their lights with some pierce point connectors and they will have a winning system is not only erronious but downright deceptive. All in the name of making a quick, cheap buck. I have suspected for years that these "lights" and "transformers" were knowingly designed and constructed to be installed this way so that in 2-4 years the manufacturer could expect that same customer to come back and purchase replacement fixtures, more wire and more transformers because of the pre-planned and projected product failure. This seems to be the case as I always have to tear out this junk, throw it away, and completely re-educate clients who have been sold these false bill of goods.

    Every day, we in the lighting industry have to battle with our customers over the perceived value of the products we install and the specialty work that we do. This is a direct result of them walking into one of these stores and seeing some annodized pot metal fixture priced at a mere 35 bucks, adding up how many we specified into their job and then doing the multiplication in their head to figuire up what he "perceives" he should be paying for the "solid metal" fixtures. Now, in reality it really doesn't take to much to overcome these objections about product quality. Simply place a solid brass fixture in their hand along with the "metal" fixture from one of these others and the differences in actual quality become clear right away.

    The biggest thing we have to overcome is the psychological stigma of low voltage lighting being junk because, "well bubba, he had some at his house and he was always replacing light bulbs and they were dim and the fixtures didn't last very long so I should probably install some line voltage lights since they won't give me all these problems". When in reality, Bubba was told he could do it himself so easily, and with all his shiny new fixtures in tow he goes home and pieces his lights together only to start encountering problems within months, because no one ever told him, "Hey Bubba, you shouldn't use those pierce points. They are just going to let water get into the copper wire and corrode your system from the inside out!" or "Hey Bubba, Didn't anyone ever tell you to make sure you have 10.8-11.5 volts at all your halogen lamps or you'll be fighting burnouts and dim bulbs, oh they didn't tell you that, well why not?!"

    Literally millions of people across this country and abroad have been duped into falling for these cheap, gimmicky fixtures and brainwashed into believing that they are every bit as good as what the pros use only cheaper and you don't have to pay for professonial installation fees when "WE" will show "YOU" how to do it yourself. (and then we will collect more money from you in a few years again!)

    Sorry Tom, but hopefully you will realize the problems these types of products cause for those of us who are truly passionate about this profession and industry.
  2. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    I did......... And it took me moving clear across country to find another one right in your backyard.
  3. TXNSLighting

    TXNSLighting LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 6,463

    By celebrate i meant for the product being gone, not the guy being out of a job. Im very sure he'll get more work with a better product. Geeezzz, not the smartest people on this site...
  4. TRabic

    TRabic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11


    Although we are coming at it from different angles, I am with you on the education piece. That has always been one of our biggest challenges.
    The more the customer understands the value proposition, including the product quality, labor and/or maintenance side of the equation, the better the odds that they will make the decision that best suits their needs.

  5. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    Agreed, Thanks Tom. I truly wish you and your family well on your future endeavours.
  6. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    Tom, at what point did Intermatic start making so much Malibu product line offshore? I remember Toro jumping into the retail DIY lighting market in the mid to late 80's, and then in the 90's a lot of other offshore product flooding the shelves from Home Depot to Ace Hardware stores and OSH.

    Malibu made the first LV system I ever worked on, around my grandfather's fish pond in the late 70's. Plastic stems and metal hats that twisted on.

    I actually installed dozens of your ribbed metal uplights at a couple houses my brother was fixing up and "flipping" up above Sunset Blvd. in the Hollywood Hills on a tight budget maybe 10 years ago.

    They weren't my first choice, and I insisted on FX transformers for those jobs, but the lights did the trick for making some tropical looking foliage come to life at night and helped make the sales.

    I wish you well.
  7. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    Tom, I'll add my best wishes to you. I never had a problem with the existance of Malibu and understood its place in the DIY market.

    I am concerned about manufacturers who make poor quality fixtures and try to pass them off as professional products. And about contractors that set their standards too low.
  8. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    I would like to throw in my input on this topic. While I am no fan of the Malibu stuff - cheap fixtures, pierce point connectors and crappy transformers. I disagree with you guys on blaming cheap outdoor lighting from big box stores as giving outdoor lighting a bad name. When I come in and show someone what REAL artistic outdoor lighting is all about. It distinguishes me as an expert, and my customers easily see the difference between professional outdoor lighting vs. cheap Home Depot stuff.

    If someone thinks the runway effect with plastic path lights is attractive, who am I to be upset with what they have done. The bottom line is people know - "you get what you pay for." (When other professionals and people see what I do one of the first things they say is "WOW! I know this isn't cheap.) As outdoor professionals we need to inform high end home owners what quality outdoor lighting can do for them. Don't blame Malibu because high end home owners don't know about us. It is our job as "Specialist"/"Businessmen" to network with the high end contractors and etc to promote our craft in our area. (As far as I am concerned the cheap stuff has helped create a niche for quality outdoor lighting professionals. If the cheap stuff wasn't around there would probably be less demand for any kind of outdoor lighting)

    Lets face it most of the people who buy the Home Depot stuff is "Do it Yourselfers" they aren't in our market anyway. I will admit that a lot of ignorant landscapers will buy the crap Malibu stuff, and I will also admit that doesn't help our cause much. But on the other hand, you all know when you see a Malibu system installed with a daisy chain that extends over 75ft on a single tap crap transformer. It isn't hard to impress your prospective client the advantages of using a professional.

    Mike G said something to this nature ealier, "When someone is doing yard improvements they usually don't have much money left over for lighting. Let them get started with the cheap crap. Once they get fed up with it, they will be willing to pay a premium on quality outdoor lighting."

    What if, who ever steps in and fills Malibu's void. Lets say they promote the hub system, multi tap transformers, water tight connectors and etc. And they become very successfull and all the hack landscapers now use the hub and multi tap transformers and etc. Will that improve the business or increase competition for professionals like use who specialize in outdoor lighting.

    I have no BEEF with Malibu, in fact their product makes me look like a STAR! I appreciate Tom sharing that info with us, and best of luck to you Tom.
  9. kansashoosier

    kansashoosier LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    I'm an electrician, so education is something I value greatly in terms of doing a job properly. That being said, Malibu's lack of education to me is no different than a lot of the distributors and manufacturers who sell over the internet to any and all at contractor pricing, both in the low and high voltage world, with little to no concern about who is installing it or how they are installing it, and only to "make a buck". Some of the more respected posters on this sight have been on DIY shows. Who do you think primarily watches those shows? People who want to do it themselves. How much education are they getting across in a 5 minute segment on a home improvement show, but they sure as heck want their name to be seen or heard on that show.
    When they see a lighting contractor put a strainer on top of a pole on top of lamp, don't you think that gives them all kinds of unsafe ideas because they saw someone on TV do it. Malibu isn't the only one who put out a low grade product and didn't educate as much as you would like. To overcome that, you have to know how to sell, educate, and install, and if a contractor can't do that, perhaps another line of work is in order.
  10. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    malibu sold what sells at x price. they sold what most folks at big box would pay, max, for a premium light- thier copper spot. Yes, we start above that and go up. Yes, there are millions of malibu systems out there, and probably only a few hundred thousand pro-systems. the masses have thier opinion of landscape lighting on the bulk of what they see.

    none of that is toms fault. but he is here initially to sell off closeout malibu fixtures, so I guess a little bit of malibu bashing is to be expected. but then you guys bash some pro quality stuff too on other threads. myself included.

    Good luck again tom.

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