You could say that Andy Burns was “born into” the lighting industry, as his mother is Penny Burns Klein, who worked full-time at a lighting showroom in Oklahoma City while raising her two boys, Andy and Jason, before launching her own sales agency in the late 1980s.
While he was a student at the University of Central Oklahoma studying Business Management, Burns realized his mother could use help with her growing agency and he joined Penny Lighting Sales in 1988 as a manufacturers’ representative (his brother also worked at the agency).
Together the Burns family expanded Penny Lighting Sales, and took on major accounts such as Kichler Lighting and Juno. Almost at the same time that Penny Burns was starting up her business, Jim Catlege purchased Triple C Lighting, a sales agency that has grown to represent manufacturers in the architectural and residential lighting and controls.
In 2003, the Burns family sold their business to the much-larger Triple C & Controls and Andy joined Triple C, working his way up through the years to company partner. Triple C has an architectural team, quotes department, and customer service department, plus has 25,000 feet of warehouse space. It is building a Lighting Training Center that will offer seminars, training, and private conferences including an auditorium that can seat 100 people.
At its recent Lighting Expo, which coincided with the company’s 53rd anniversary, Triple C invited the local architectural and residential lighting community to view its 55 manufacturer exhibits, attend 6 AAIA/CES seminars, plus gave away TVs and trips as prizes. Terry McGowan, the ALA’s Director of Engineering was a speaker, providing an overview of the Lighting for Tomorrow Award winners along with 2014 IES product innovation awards.
Burns has been an active member of the ALA for many years. He earned his Certified Lighting Consultant (CLC) in 2001 and later his Certified Lighting Manufacturers’ Representative designation. He currently serves on the ALA Board of Governors. Since 2010, he has served on the Manufacturers’ Representatives Steering Committee and was Chair of the Officers Nominating Committee in 2012.
In addition, Burns has been recognized for outstanding work by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), receiving the Award of Merit for projects he has designed in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2011. In 2007, he earned his Lighting Certified designation from the National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Profession (NCQLP).
“Receiving the Pillar of Industry award is very unexpected,” Burns says. “Something like this makes me feel very appreciative of my mother for her help along the way, instilling a work ethic that is timeless. I have been fortunate to grow up with and learn from some other legendary reps, such as Mike Michalski, Art Langlais, Michael Estrin, Richard Alan, Greg Fisher, the Patsey family, and Steve Brownback.
“My goals were to educate myself so I can demonstrate and explain the products we represent to our customers and help educate the end-customer,” he says. “The ALA has given me the platform to learn, earn my CLC, CLMR, and to prepare me for my LC accreditation (NCQLP). It seems like yesterday when I was 19 years old, trying trying this lighting business out because my mom was in it. It took me a few years to get the passion for it and make it my career.”