Company Profile: Lightronics, Virginia Beach, Va.
Kevin Nelson was only a child growing up in Virginia Beach, Va., when his love of electronics was born. His involvement in school theatre sparked a passion for the sound and lighting equipment he used. Nelson’s first job as a repair technician at a local music store allowed him to work on various pieces of lighting equipment, and one day he had an idea. He decided he could build a better dimmer. With a few purchases from Radio Shack from his first paycheck and some time in his garage workshop, he designed the first Lightronics dimmer, which is said to be still operating today in a seaside restaurant.
The orders started coming and didn’t stop. Nelson built each piece of custom equipment by hand in his garage until the costs outweighed the profits. Finally, he had to move into a larger facility and engineer “rugged and reliable products that would survive real-world hazards.” The product line was expanded to include dimmers, lighting consoles and electronic translators (units used to convert lighting control signals to different formats).
Once a full line of products was available, the entertainment and theatrical industry orders started coming in and Lightronics continued to expand. Worship Facilities Magazine talks with Chris Pease, Lightronics’ sales and marketing manager, about the company’s success.
WFM: What happened to make Lightronics stand out among other companies?
Pease: As the electronic industries’ explosive growth in the 1990s led other companies to be on the forefront of technology, Nelson knew he wanted his company to remain on the forefront of quality and value. Why pay for bells and whistles you just do not need?
Lightronics introduced an architectural lighting system designed to control house and stage lighting in a simple elegant package, using the same quality craftsmanship and attention to detail that has enabled Lightronics to be one of the premiere lighting control manufacturers in the country. With over 1,000 dealers, Lightronics products are available to customers in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Today our equipment is used worldwide in churches, schools, theaters, hospitality industries, sports and entertainment complexes and commercial venues, all backed with an industry best five-year warranty.
WFM: Tell us about the company’s goals for the future. What main initiatives do you have in the works today?
Pease: As Lightronics enters into its second quarter century, our goal still remains focused on providing simple solutions to everyday lighting applications. Build a reliable and economical product and stand behind that product with the best warranty and customer support we can provide. The Lightronics family has grown over the years. Our employees are an important part of our success and we like to acknowledge their professionalism in all they do. They know the faith our customers put in us when they purchase a Lightronics product and they want that faith to be well deserved.
As we look to the future we understand the need to make our lighting systems as efficient and energy-saving as possible. Today, Lightronics offers lighting fixtures that provide the same amount of light using about half of the electricity of a standard PAR can. These savings will allow you to go green and save on your finances. The drive to go green will move us towards high-intensity LED lighting. As the technology improves and more customers move towards this, Lightronics will be there to provide a reliable and affordable control system for the next quarter century.
WFM: What are your company’s biggest challenges today?
Pease: The biggest challenge we face today is growing our business in spite of the weak economy. With hard work and dedication to the principles that got us to this point, we will succeed. I talk with people every day and I’m encouraged at the number of them that see positive signals from the economy. Let’s hope that the recently passed stimulus package will help jump-start the economy—and what better way to start than $40 billion worth of new schools.
WFM: What are your thoughts on the church market? Do you approach this market differently than other clients?
Pease: Our products have been well received in the church market. Their ease of use, economical price and reliable performance have earned us a reputation second to none. We continue to attend church technology shows in order to show everyone just how affordable the right lighting control system can be. We want to teach anyone who wants to learn how to use a lighting console, hook up a dimmer or focus a light fixture. It’s exciting when we get to share our knowledge with others and rewarding to know it has enriched their lives. Our goal is to make our customers comfortable with the technology that will enhance their environment and worship experience.
WFM: What advice do you have for churches considering a professional lighting purchase?
Pease: If you were currently planning a professional lighting purchase our first recommendation would be to study exactly what the lighting system needs to do. A committee comprised of the pastor, the musical director, youth leader, facility maintenance and someone from the financial board and/or building committee should be able to determine both the needs and budget for the project. Next, talk with a consultant. Unless you are extremely lucky and have a lighting designer in your church family, the consultant can look at your objectives and your budget and see if they are compatible. If so, he can begin his design work. If the plan looks good on paper, then you can start the process of choosing a good local installer who has earned a solid reputation in your area. Ask for references, visit a previously installed job and get a testimonial.
Next, choose the manufacturer of the lighting equipment; this is where I say call Lightronics, right? Seriously, as with any purchase, you look for quality, value, price point and warranty. Why would lighting be any different? Do your homework and I won’t have to say call Lightronics. You will already know that. Don’t forget to make sure that your installer provides training for the church staff on how to operate your new system, and a service contract affords you piece of mind that your system will provide you with many years of service.
As we bring this to a close, I want to thank you for taking the time to learn about our company and our employees. We enjoy the magazine every month and it gives us a great window into the church market. We hope to see as many of you as possible at WFX in Charlotte, N.C., in the fall. Good luck and God bless.