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Steve Parrott Now at VOLT!

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by steveparrott, May 20, 2014.

  1. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,192

    I wish, Mark, that you would pick out one point at a time for your comments.
    Too much for my simple mind to absorb. Don't assume that you know me too well by my answers to your questions. After all, you framed the questions, not me. I don't want to make this discussion about me but I need to provide some background. I can't match your experience in the lighting field. I've only been in it less than four years. I can hear you saying, "Ha, no wonder Phil is so clueless." But there's more: Before I started to specialize in landscape lighting, for 30 years I operated a small, but very-well respected and profitable landscaping company. I served many years on the landscape contractor's committee of the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association. I earned Master Landscape Certification through the ONLA. (There are still only about 500 in the whole state.) I had no formal education in horticulture. So, you see, I am not a loner or uncaring about my profession. That goes for my entrance into landscape lighting, too.

    Let me ask you some questions related to this general discussion, even though the response may be long.

    1) What exactly are you afraid of with whatever direction the profession is heading?
    What do you plan to do about it? What if your efforts to affect manufacturers fails and they all start selling on the internet? Will you go out of business?

    I will mention one other thing about my way of thinking. I am also a high school basketball coach. One of my idols, the great John Wooden of UCLA, never worried about his opponents. He coached his players to perform the best under his system. He said "we can't control the other team but we CAN control how WE play.

    Regards to all.
  2. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,192

    By the way, I see this thread has more than 1100 views. Let's hear from some others.
  3. Avalon3

    Avalon3 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    Phil....okay, good questions. Before I address them, let me say that no, I do not know you and your background really. However, I have to take what's been thrown at me to make assumptions. You have more than once gone on more of an offensive with me, which is okay, but when I ask questions of you and others...I don't gain much depth or insight back on these landscape lighting topics.

    Your recent responses allow me to conclude that you don't seem to really care what happens, as a whole to the industry and this profession. You are happy to be you in your own little world, as are a ton of other guys out there. What really bothers me is that the majority...more than 80% or 90% of the contractors doing this work have no succession plan in place. Several have no idea what that is....it relates to one building 'systems' and ensuring that there company is building itself to be self-operational without you, the owner to do it. If we all cannot get to that point of existence within our own companies, then we all will die...cease to exist when we can no longer do this work. My point in asking people this is to see if they have any long-term future plans for themselves and their business....most don't. They live in the now...the present and that's it.

    If these are the leaders in our industry and they cannot successfully reach into the next generation or retire, then that's bad for this profession.

    You made a point at the end of your post that talks about a philosophy..."we can't control what others do"....that is very true, but I argue that we don't have to accept what other do either. Our trade profession tends to "follow" the decisions made by any larger entity....in this case, the manufacturers and distributors. They are and they have made some extremely poor choices over the past several years. Again, in this case, Volt has made the decision to sell direct, at about the same pricing as contractors. This was a poor decision made by greed (in my opinion) to take what they can no matter the problems it may cause. They put no thought into how this might ultimately impact the entire industry and those trying to make a decent living in this work. They have begun this downward spiral of activities that is creating a feeding frenzy with manufacturers and contractors alike. Who can be the cheapest....who can sell more....whatever it may be.

    And to make matters worse, we have many contractors, that are supposed to be standing up for one another, buying this product in the attempt to try and save a buck. The shame of it all is that these guys who buy this stuff fail to understand they are only hurting themselves and the entire profession. Many will argue this, but this is the plain truth and it will catch up to everyone....one day. Unfortunately, most contractors are like sheep or lambs...they are being led to the wolf or to the slaughter and they don't even realize it.

    I'll start a new post for your specific questions.
  4. Avalon3

    Avalon3 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    As far as your questions, you asked about 4 of them. I'll answer in order and accordingly:

    1) You ask, "What am I afraid of with the direction being taken by this profession?"--I am afraid for this industry and this profession because very few are standing up to say anything against the companies or people causing these problems we face.

    As I described above....the sheep/lamb example, identifies what the contractor base has become. Either everyone is afraid to speak out or they just don't care for whatever reason. I would question why they don't care.....is it because they are only in it for the short term?....is it because they don't have enough education or business sense to themselves?.....is it because they are lazy?....I don't know, but it's sad if this is our make-up of so-called professionals.

    Am I personally afraid for myself? No. I've been fortunate to make it past all my years of education and early learning or training development in this trade specialty. Can I learn more....sure! Always. You never stop learning. I'll survive, as I always have and continue to get decent work as I want it.

    2) You ask, "What I plan to do about this problem"--Well, there are two things to be done. The first is to get the word out, as I am now doing or have been doing over the past year or two. If no one understands that there is a problem, then there is no problem....right? I have taken a very active approach, as you all well know by now, to reach out to the AOLP and to other larger organizations to bring awareness to these problems. They don't appreciate it most of the time, but they are aware....I am the thorn in many sides! The AOLP has chosen for over 2 years now, not to take any direct actions in a lot of these things. Only recently, have they begun to express displeasure and say that they are intending to do things differently.

    The second thing is to take action. I have already done this in different forms....writing trade articles, blogs, and getting the word out. I have personally called out individuals/companies when I've determined they have made bad decisions or have produced false misrepresentations to the public.

    For example, you know this is my second time bringing exposure to a problem with this individual but with two different companies. I've also brought exposure to a couple of contractors in our profession who act like movie star personalities or act as if they are the leaders in this profession. These individuals have been known to over-state truths and mislead the public with their outstanding abilities??

    3) You ask, "What if my efforts fail and all the manufacturers sell on-line" or something to that effect--To be honest, it is likely to fail!! I do all of this because I care for this profession and I have a great passion for landscape lighting design. However, the reality is that it may already be too late. Too few are standing up and too many continue to want to be led without thought. Regardless, I will continue in my efforts to hopefully preserve a handful of professionals that want to lead into the next generation. I truly believe the next generation will have little to gain from this generation's efforts.

    We are already seeing a dismantling action taking place. The AOLP has lost several key experienced professionals over the past 5 years, including myself....why? The AOLP just lost Jan Moyer, as she has decided to put her emphasis back into her non-profit org....ILLI. There is no one active and leading element to guide our profession or to lead our advancements. It's now going to be up to those of us left with experience. But, you have many egos....several of the guys with 20-30 years experience are quiet and not involved...why? The manufacturers have the upper hand and the ability to change things, yet they don't....or they only care about profits (sales).

    4) You ask, "Will I go out of business" if these actions continue--No. I can self-sustain myself and I am tied to no manufacturer. I have taken the direct stance like that of Mike Gambino...he has developed his own/exclusive, high quality product line that NO ONE can shop or get access to. This pisses a lot of manufacturers off and that's why they take a direct stance against Mike. I choose not to be "owned" or "bought" by the manufacturer. That's my fear with Jan's program....these manufacturers are dumping a ton of money into it, which means they will have her attention or back...they kind of own her now (in my opinion).

    It's kind of the same things as these contractors who buy into these "incentive" programs that manufacturers offer. Look at the guys who totally push Kichler....they are one of the best examples. They are a walking advertisement for that company and the products are 'average' at best, as compared to the entire market place with brass and copper. That's all I'm going to say, but these guys are saying they are the best out there....come on, really!

    To end this post....I realize I bug the crap out of a lot of individuals and companies, but these are ALL things that need to be said. These are all things that most of us professionals already know or understands, but few say anything. It's time to set the record straight for many things.

    My fear is that this site will be told to 'delete' this thread, because it infringes on the rules or those who support it. That's purely wrong when it comes to a legitimate debate, as I am presenting. This has happened more that once here on this forum and that's why you've seen a departure of more experienced people. The realities of what exist shouldn't be deleted or candy-coated in order to paint a beautiful picture.

    Anyways....hope this helps to explain me and my position better.
  5. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Messages: 1,275

    Mark, I suggest if you have further comments on the landscape lighting industry that you start a new thread - this one has diverged quite a bit from its origin. And, maybe focus on one point at a time.

  6. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Messages: 1,275

    I think it's also helpful to point to emerging business models (from other industries) so we don't get stuck in models that are obsolete due to changing technology. In a recent lecture from a former president of the IESNA, he accused the lighting industry of being very much stuck in the past - especially compared to high-tech industries.
  7. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,192

    Steve, Sorry, it was probably my fault more than Mark's that the thread you started got so far off-track.
  8. emby

    emby LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 380

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
  9. Avalon3

    Avalon3 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    Steve.....are you saying the "emerging business models" are that which take away a distinct means or advantage in which a contractor can effectively mark-up products? Is that a model that is now "obsolete?"

    How is the typical contractor supposed to recover this overhead recovery loss or battle against a typical homeowner who says he can buy it at that same low price?

    You haven't addressed that here yet, nor has anyone else...why? You once said that this type of activity was bad, whether or not it's the current company you are working for. Why is this acceptable now??
  10. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Messages: 1,275

    New thread please.

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