In 2007, Timur Colak was looking for a new business venture. He found it in a sign company in Miami named Modern Display, which he acquired with the intent to modernize and grow the business. Why? In his search for an investment, Timur recognized a massive gap within the signage industry. Signs were either low-quality products from China or high-quality, American-made products that resulted in zero profit. Recognizing an opportunity to marry the two, Timur partnered with the highest tech, highest integrity Chinese manufacturer, with a plan to design, assemble and distribute the best product possible in the United States. Today, Timur’s insight has transformed into a multimillion-dollar a year company, Lightking Outdoor. Their success has been built upon the following values:
- Honesty – Be honest with yourself, your stockholders and your employees. Open communication is essential and leads to continuous improvement.
- Respect – It’s important to align and surround yourself with people who will make you better, and this means seeking out people who are different from you. Without respect for ideas that are not your own, growth cannot happen.
- Innovation – Creating something that’s truly valuable to the end consumer requires a commitment to surpassing the bar. In addition, having something no one else has helps drive revenue.
- Health/Safety – This value is all about perspective: no one ever died because they received their LED sign a day late. Maintaining a safe work environment is more important than a deadline, and staying healthy is more important than a perfect attendance record.
- Balance – This ties back into health and safety, but family and personal well-being always come first.
- Communication – Two-way dialogue is the cornerstone of innovation, as it reveals what the customer wants and needs.
- Discipline – Managing your time wisely and meeting deadlines is the first step towards a work/life balance.
These values aren’t merely words on a wall. Everything Lightking Outdoor and its employees do mirror these guiding principles. They believe in their products and in providing the best service possible to their customers. As Timur says, “Every employee here is equivalent to an entire department at a competitor.” And that sentiment is shared by their customers. “Someone always answers the phone here,” said Dion Kevin while attending a training session. “No issue is too small.” This is no accident. Lightking Outdoor believes in keeping the company small and the operations simple. Sure, they could expand their product offerings to include LED lighting, but that would compromise their focus on LED signage, and they aren’t willing to sacrifice time or resources just to turn a quick profit. Instead, the company’s long game is grounded in economy of scale: offering fewer SKUs results in fewer service issues; more knowledgeable, efficient workers and lower costs. Lightking Outdoor’s modular products cut their lead time from the industry standard of eight weeks to as little as one day. They collect money upfront to eliminate receivables and, for the most part, prevent stock outs. Because that is what’s truly profitable, and what will continuously keep Lightking Outdoor ahead of the curve – and their competitors.