Total Lighting Concepts
With the right team and partnerships, Total Lighting Concepts aims to be the No. 1 agency in southern California.
By Bianca Herron
Total Lighting Concepts Inc. is a lighting fixture and controls manufacturer’s representative sales agency that provides solutions to the professional design and construction industry in southern California.
With more than 65 manufacturing partnerships, the southern California-based company is involved in all stages of the design and construction process with distinct sales teams dedicated to both the specification and procurement of lighting equipment.
“As soon as a client receives a project and knows the scope of it, they can call us in for assistance,” Principal Owner Alison Brown says, noting TLC will work with clients through any stage they deem necessary.
“Many of our clients are professional lighting designers and need us for basic assistance like budgeting, availability and help staying up to date on the latest product releases,” Brown says. “On the flip side, some customers take us to their client meetings as an extension of their own team. We adapt to the level of service needed by our customer.
“The important piece is that we’re with the client from beginning to end,” she continues. “Even if it’s two years after the project is complete and they have warranty issues, we still work with the customer the entire way. We want them to keep their client satisfied and for us to maintain the decade’s long relationships we’ve built in Southern California.”
Keys to Success
Total Lighting Concepts is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Brown attributes the company’s success to balancing its customer support and emphasis on a family-like culture with its employees. “We have always encouraged a work/life balance,” she says. “Additionally, having our employees’ family feel just as important as our employees themselves has been critical.”
With 36 employees, the company is “rapidly growing,” according to Brown. She adds that much of that growth stems from parting ways with longtime partner Hubbell Lighting to represent Philips.
“This was two-and-a-half years ago,” she says. “Since then, 50 percent of our employees are new. This has allowed us to develop back into the specification agency that was always our core competency. It has also brought tremendous vitality and enthusiasm to the organization. Everyone understands our goals. Decisions top to bottom are made with those goals in mind.”
The partnership has also provided TLC with the necessary products to leverage its talent, Brown says. “We’ve spent a lot of time ensuring we have the right team of both people and manufacturers, that has enabled us to grow,” she says. “We have made a full transition to a sophisticated small business, improving every process and procedure. In our operations, we want our employees to have the benefit of corporate America with a small business ethos.”
TLC’s ultimate goal is to be the No. 1 agency in southern California. “We are aiming to bring unique value to lighting and controls in our market,” Brown says. “Systems is the leading edge value proposition. That includes everything from a healthcare tunable white system offering circadian rhythm control to an all-inclusive outdoor city lighting project with integrated equipment that allows cities to have ultimate oversight over maintenance and safety. Our solutions are no longer widgets, they are systems.”
Getting to the top spot will take some time, Brown adds, noting TLC aims to achieve its goal in 10 years. “Ten years from now we’re not going to have buildings that are static, they’re going to be dynamic buildings,” she says. “We plan to be on the leading-edge of smart buildings with a sophisticated sales force adept at that complex sale.”
Despite the company’s competition, Brown is more than confident that Total Lighting Concepts can become the No. 1 agency by partnering with manufacturers who share its six core values: loyalty, integrity, passion, knowledge, communication and achievement.
“As an agency, we live by these six values daily,” Brown says. “We are loyal to our colleagues and customers. We always try to do the right by our customers, and are passionate about what we do every day. The world of lighting has changed so much in the last 10 years, so our team has to stay up-to-date on the pulse of the industry for us to be successful.
“Our teams have to communicate effectively to achieve the right end-result,” she continues. “Finally, we have to consistently bring in those projects. We feel that all manufacturers we partner with should also believe in those core ideals.”
Brown has been with the company since 2003, and says she is not only proud of her team, but also proud of who TLC is coming out of the Great Recession. “We are a different organization today and that is true progress,” she says. “The recession exposed so much about what it was going to take to be successful in the new economy and the world of LED and controls. We are keeping pace with those changes and doing our best to employ corporate technologies that will keep us ahead of the pack.”