Founded in 1959 as a plumbing supply shop called C&M Supply, Dru Dement’s grandfather bought the business 40 years ago and kept the name. According to Dru, it was when his grandfather was building his own house that the idea struck that Lubbock needed a good resource for lighting fixtures; he then added the category to the merchandise mix. Years later, the family-run business changed; Dru’s mom, Nancy, took over the lighting side from her father and changed the name to Dement Lighting while Dru’s father ran his own shop, Dement Hardware in Aledo, Texas.
Dru recounts growing up with no particular desire to be in the family business, although he would work in the warehouse in the summers while attending college. He met Crystal, whose family is from San Antonio, while she was a student at Texas Tech.
“When my dad was in the business, the builder clientele was mostly smaller and tract homes,” Dru recalls. As the Lubbock area boomed due to growing jobs in agriculture, energy (oil and gas), and the medical community, new construction has become robust on the custom and luxury end. That change has also influenced the criteria for purchasing. Decisions aren’t based on price alone – “I don’t even look at price tags at market,” Dru admits – but more on whether the style will suit customers’ tastes.
“The demographic of Lubbock is getting younger as people in their 20s are coming in and building homes,” Crystal states. With those populations, changes have come a fresher approach to design.
“This region has been slow to change and slow to let go,” Dru remarks. “When I started [here], everyone wanted brown and curly. Then builders started to build more Contemporary homes and pushing the comfort zone.”
Crystal adds that customers’ exposure to interior design shows on TV have been another influence on the style shift. “Tastes have changed; people used to buy in families of fixtures and now the [desire] is for a more eclectic, custom look,” she remarks.
“We’re finding younger customers are opting to use pendants versus island fixtures in the kitchen, and very often customers will say, ‘I want a chandelier for my daughter’s room,’” Crystal comments. And while years ago, table lamps on nightstands were a common sight; now, customers are seeking swing-arm sconces for a less-cluttered, more streamlined look.
Today’s customers are apt to change design styles more readily than in the past. “People who have built their homes two years ago are now wanting to remodel,” she explains. “We’ve had more Airbnb remodeling projects come up,” Crystal notes, explaining that the rising popularity of college games at Texas Tech, along with larger corporate gatherings in the area, can saturate the availability of hotel rooms. The nearby University Medical Center – which is the primary teaching hospital for the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center – has been growing as well, drawing doctors and other professionals in the medical community.
Crystal urges customers to share the design elements they are planning for the entire home so she can best match their lighting needs and styles. “I tell them, ‘Bring in your Pinterest boards and your flooring & tile samples,’” she says. Her approach in dealing with budget constraints is fashion-based, as in “I can show you the Louis Vuitton or the Michael Kors” version of a style that interests the customer.
Dement Lighting successfully accommodated a variety of budgets for the most recent Parade of Homes – handling the lighting for 17 of the 22 residences – which encompassed three distinct neighborhoods in the starter, mid-range, and million-dollar/luxury categories. To reinforce the showroom’s experience with new lighting technology, Dru made certain that LED fixtures were showcased in those homes.
Not surprisingly, builder business makes up the majority of sales. In the name of customer service, “We walk the houses and don’t charge the customer or the builder. We also count their hardware, doors, and drawers [Dement Lighting offers a comprehensive selection of hardware]. We do a take-off and go over it with them,” Crystal says. “A lot of the time, plans change once the drywall is up.” Such thoroughness permits the Dements to consolidate everything the project needs into one box. “Happy electrician, happy builder,” Crystal quips.
One of the most high-profile homes they have worked on – located in the Llano Estacado region of the Texas High Plains – appeared on the fall 2019 season of What You Get for Your Money on HGTV.
“My philosophy is that you have to keep evolving your business,” he notes. “It has to be an experience for the customer.” Aiding in that effort of enhancing engagement is Crystal’s dedication to the social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram, and Houzz.
In a recent popular Instagram contest, she posted an image of a sconce and asked fans of the page to “Like” it, “Share” it, or Comment for a chance to win that fixture in a random drawing. “The person who won ended up upgrading to a larger fixture,” she reveals. Dement Lighting’s social media posts are often shared by happy Lubbock customers who have relatives living in different parts of the state, which has expanded the store’s reach.
Further solidifying the showroom with the local community, Dement Lighting sponsors banners at Texas Tech during its baseball, basketball, and football games. “It keeps our name out there,” Crystal states.
Always on the look-out to keep evolving and staying current, the Dements are in the middle of remerchandising the showroom and are considering installing a light lab and updating the façade within the next few years.