Arizona Lighting Sales Inc.
Arizona Lighting excels at maintaining relationships with its contractors and customers.
By Chris Kelsch
There is a bit of a trick to being a successful manufacturer’s representative in that you have to be skillful at managing two relationships. One is with end-user customers, and the other is with the manufacturers themselves, making sure they have all the information necessary to complete important projects on time and within budget.
Arizona Lighting Sales Inc., founded in 1989 by CK “Andy” Anderson, has always realized this, and is fortunate to have two experts to manage each facet. Principals Todd Baumgartner and Rick Szymanski both joined the company in the late 1990s, and through hard work and dedication they became co-owners of the company in 2013.
As principals, their relationship management duties are evenly split. Szymanski works closely with end-user clients, in this case architectural or construction firms that specialize in specifications for lighting projects. Baumgartner handles the other side, working with manufacturers and distributors to make sure the project can be completed.
“When it comes to a job or project,” Baumgartner notes, “you’re really selling it twice. Once on the spec side and then once again on the contract side, ensuring that the needs of all parties are met.”
As for Szymanski, he relies on an experienced and knowledgeable team to be able to compete for a variety of construction lighting projects throughout Arizona. “On the specification side, it takes a very knowledgeable team to be able to shift between project types,” Szymanski says. “We have to be able to go from diverse projects such as water treatment plants to class A office buildings to schools. We have to have expertise in all of the different equipment needed. This can all happen in the same day.”
Arizona Lighting Sales covers the entire state of Arizona, but its bread and butter comes from servicing the larger metropolitan areas in the state: the Phoenix and Tucson areas, followed by Flagstaff and Prescott.
Having to rely on construction projects for revenue means the company is susceptible to construction downturns, such as the one that occurred throughout the country in 2007. Fortunately, the economy since has recovered to full strength, and Baumgartner and Szymanski see a ton of potential for growth.
“This was at one time an area that was really known as a retirement destination,” Szymanski says. “But in more recent years, the area has become a lot younger with families moving to the area, but the real estate is still very affordable. When we look at Phoenix, we see nothing but growth potential and we fully intend on participating in that growth.”
Indeed, Phoenix is one of the faster-growing areas in the United States, and as it continues to grow, Arizona Lighting Sales should grow as well. Since Szymanski and Baumgartner joined the company, they have seen its employees go from eight to its present staff of 26.
They recruit people from all sorts of backgrounds, sales or otherwise. “We have hired employees with experience with certain well-known brands such as Hubbell,” Baumgartner says. “But a lot have come from various sales backgrounds. We really try and find those that are motivated to excel in sales and the construction business.”
Adapting To LED
Although Arizona Lighting’s approach to relationships is a constant, it has had to keep up with rapidly changing technology within the lighting industry. In particular, the advent of energy-efficient LED lighting has forced the company to evolve. “The world of LED has dramatically changed our industry,” Szymanski notes. “And that is an understatement.”
Szymanski notes what where before there was an emphasis on individual lighting fixtures, the advent of smart technology has put more focus on building control units. “The shift has definitely been to the controls arena,” Szymanski says. “With modern technology, a person running a building controls system in a 40-story office building can adjust lighting controls for one individual on the 35th floor.”
To stay ahead of the curve, Szymanski and his team spend considerable time with electrical contractors and design firms to come up with efficient lighting systems, and importantly, find the right products to use in those systems. For an established company like Arizona Lighting, that means a line card of established, high-profile names such as Hubbell and Lutron. “Certainly, we do carry some shining stars,” Szymanski says. “That gives us credibility with customers, and leads to more requests for potential business.”
Carrying high-profile brands combined with extensive application experience has led to Arizona Lighting landing some significant projects throughout the state. One of those was a major facility for the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. Arizona Lighting secured the lighting for Mayo’s Proton Beam facility, which uses highly targeted precision beams to target cancerous tumors.
Regardless of the project, the real goal of Arizona Lighting is to find the most suitable products for its end-users. “We strive to have the right product for every complete application,” Baumgartner says, “regardless of what the project is.”
The Arizona Lighting Sales team has built its reputation on executing that idea, and its leadership realizes that is what sets it apart. “Really, anyone can go across the street and buy what we’re selling,” Baumgartner notes. “But we set ourselves apart with honesty and integrity. We always tell the truth, and we always stay true to who we are.”