Larry and Kay Edwards founded the business -
across the street from its current location on
College Avenue in Fort Collins - in 1971. Now
Larry operates it in conjunction with daughter
Jennifer Guerriero, manager and a part-owner of the company.
But blood relation isn't the only kind of family that lives under The Light Center roof. Three of its 30 employees have been with the company for more than 25 years, sharing their knowledge of how best to light up a home, store, office or any other space with countless customers over the years. This year is the company's 40th anniversary.
The "family" extends further into the list of the builders and electrical contractors with whom Edwards and his employees have formed relationships over the years, including builders like ABD Design/Build and Spanjer Homes.
Its close ties to the construction industry meant that The Light Center felt the effects of the recession a bit more than other businesses without connections to the troubled housing market. Decades of experience, including having to weather earlier recessions, prepared the crew for the national meltdown.
Keeping a focus on the customer and introducing innovative, environmentally conscious products and features helped the company make it through the tough times, according to Guerriero. It also began doing retrofits.
The 20,000-square-foot store features a mix of commercial and residential lighting, with a variety wide enough so that most anyone, on most any budget, can find what they're looking for.
A visitor to The Light Center will be greeted, as you might expect, by the bright glow of thousands of bulbs of all shapes and sizes, strategically arranged around pieces of furniture to give the customer an idea of how any one of the fixtures might look in their home or office.
To give clients an even better feel for what affect their potential purchases will have on a room, The Light Center offers an in-store lab of sorts. The lab allows for the demonstration of overhead and under-cabinet lighting, lamps and pretty much any other kind of residential or commercial lighting imaginable.
The Light Center also provides a service that helps businesses learn about their options with energyefficient lighting and rebate programs from energy companies Xcel and Platte River Power Authority. LED lighting, one of the most common types of environmentally friendly lighting, is much more expensive than traditional options, but it's worth it, Edwards said, because LED lights last so much longer than incandescent lighting.
While the installation of its products is left to electrical contractors, The Light Center has two service providers on staff to help troubleshoot issues customers might have.
"It's all about accommodating the customer," Edwards said. That's more than a platitude at the Light Center. Its employees are trained by the American Lighting Association to ensure they have the latest and best thinking in the industry.
Like other smart business owners, Edwards and Guerriero are committed to giving to the community that has supported the business for the last four decades. They make contributions to 30 to 35 charitable causes every year, often donating lighting to theaters and lending equipment for local events.