Slow and steady growth has bought Livex Lighting to where it is today — poised for expansion. By Linda Longo
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen news of a potential tariff being levied on goods imported from China was announced by the government last year, the founder of Livex Lighting Frank Huang didn’t panic. He had already weathered the Great Recession of 2007-2009, when business fell by nearly 40 percent, and he has worked steadily since to tighten the company’s financial belt and grow conservatively. What does concern Huang is the plight of brick-and-mortar lighting showrooms in the face of online shopping.
“If showrooms can’t survive, then we can’t survive,” Huang states. For that reason, he has taken efforts to make sure his company is “needed” and considered “necessary” by his customers. Recently that has meant providing a display program to help lighting showrooms showcase the line to the best of the manufacturer’s ability.
Huang has also upped the ante in customer service, warehousing roughly 97 percent of Livex’s product in stock and offering two-day shipping – approximately 80 percent of orders are shipping on the same day the order is received. He is also opting to increase the percentage of higher-end merchandise and suggests showrooms might want to do the same, leaving the battle over lower-end product to the mass merchants. “I think lighting showrooms should go more high-end,” Huang notes. There might be fewer transactions, but the profitability will be higher overall.
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“This is only the beginning of our story…”
— Frank Huang
One of the attributes Huang is most proud of is the depth of product. In addition to interior lighting fixtures (chandeliers, pendants, vanity lights, ceiling- and wall-mounted fixtures), table lamps, and a full collection of outdoor lighting, the company also offers LED bulbs and accessories such as lampshades, hanging chain, ceiling medallions, and metal stems/rods. “Customers love to buy from us because we have everything complete,” he explains.
Not that success came easy. After studying Mechanical Engineering in college, Frank Huang emigrated to the U.S. in 1994 at the age of 28. Once he decided to learn the lighting business, he went all-in, describing his first apartment as being wall-to-wall lighting catalogs. And he studied those manufacturer catalogs every night, joking, “I probably knew their lines better than they do.”
Huang’s persistence paid off. “I knew that if I was going to be successful in business, it would be because I’d be doing all the hard work,” he comments. He utilizes his mechanical engineering background when evaluating product designs and assessing what improvements can be made. “I put a lot of attention and energy into making quality,” he says.
He still goes over product drawings and evaluates the mechanical parts to be certain the process is easy. In 2012, he was able to purchase a building in Somerset, N.J. for Livex’s headquarters and warehouse, and he credits watching CDs of Judge Judy’s courtroom TV show with helping to improve his English language skills.
This year is one of growth for Livex. Following its success at BDNY as well as the Architectural Design (AD) Show in New York City – where the Livex team met with a lot of interior designers – Huang was approached by the organizers of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF®) to exhibit at the popular Manhattan show. In addition, Livex will be showing at Lightfair International in Philadelphia for the first time.
“This is only the beginning of our story,” Huang comments. “People like to work with and do business with us because we enjoy what we do.” Livex is now well-positioned to continue its upward trajectory through 2019 and beyond.