After nearly three decades, Illuminations says it is at the top of its game.
By Wholesale and Distribution International Staff Editor
Illuminations Inc. maintains an environment that is focused on hard work from the top down. “All of the management people are working parts of the company, including the partners,” Principal George Lyngarkos says. “They’re not just sitting in a desk, giving orders.”
Based in West Chester, Pa., the company is a representative for multiple lighting companies and provides sales, application and technical support. Lyngarkos co-founded Illuminations nearly 29 years ago, after working for Sylvania.
One of his partners, Jack Bordlemay, worked for a local representative. When that firm was about to lose Lithonia Lighting as one of its lines, Lyngarkos and Bordlemay joined with a third partner to create Illuminations, which became Lithonia’s new rep.
Although the three started from nothing, “We learned as we went along, put all the things in place and grew to be a stronger, more professional organization,” Lyngarkos recalls. “Now we’re at the top of our game.”
The company also formed strong relationships with general contractors. “By developing relationships, we’ve been able to control jobs better from the top down by working with them and the designers to fit their budgets,” he says.
Today, Lyngarkos co-manages Illuminations with Bordlemay’s son, Principal Joe Bordlemay. “We’ve grown into what I would consider the strongest agent in Philadelphia,” Lyngarkos says.
Illuminations has divided its business into several segments: controls, architectural lighting, residential lighting, stock and flow, and energy management. “The architectural business in Philadelphia is really strong,” he says, noting that the controls market also is thriving.
The company has developed a portfolio that includes many Philadelphia projects, including the South Street Bridge, the Brandywine Realty Trust tower and the Comcast Center, the tallest building in the city. “We also did the exterior of the Lincoln Financial Field and the Wells Fargo Center,” Lyngarkos says.
The increased adoption of LED lights has impacted Illuminations’ business, Lyngarkos says. “That’s a big change from tubes, and LEDs have their own challenges,” he says.
For example, they can impact the pricing of construction projects. “A lot of these general contractors and owners are now budgeting their jobs where it should be for lighting, and that causes a lot of issues,” he says.
Illuminations also has seen the addition of new technology, including smart drivers from Acuity Brands that can be implanted in light fixtures and give people directions via their phones. “You can talk to the light fixture and it can show you around,” Lyngarkos says.
“We’re obviously talking to people like Amtrak and the Philadelphia [International] Airport about putting smart drivers in their fixtures,” he says. “Your phone [can tell you] where to go eat and where the restrooms are.”
Illuminations is coping with challenges on the stock and flow side. ”Everybody is warehousing products,” Lyngarkos says. “The competition for shelf space is very robust.”
The company has adjusted by adding to its staff, including a new manager for its stock and flow portion. “I also put in two quick quotes people who can respond to whenever a distributor needs something,” he says.
The firm also hired two more “who work on stock and flow and distribution more like a supply rep than a lighting rep,” he says. “Their only world is getting space on the shelf and getting flow business. It’s been very good for us.”
Working With Friends
Illuminations has strong relationships with its brand partners, Lyngarkos says. “We sit down several times a year, planning on how to grow the business,” he says. “We have relaxed time golfing and hanging out afterwards.
“That creates a lot of strong personal relationships,” Lyngarkos says. “I tell people often that I do business with my friends.”
Illuminations will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, which brings Lyngarkos pride. “I feel blessed and lucky,” he says. “We went through some bad times and we came out stronger than we were before.”
The company, he adds, has doubled its size thanks to the growth in the LED market. “Acuity Brands and some of our brands were connected in it early,” he says. “The change to LED helped us to build a big backlog of business in that area.”
He plans for Illuminations to grow even stronger and find new business channels. “The next step would be building management systems,” he predicts. “I feel like the future for a rep is to be not just a sales organization, but a service organization for controls and building management systems.”