Wall have heard the advice, “Be different” or “Pick a niche that your competitors don’t serve,” but my recent trip to Atlanta demonstrated how effective this approach really is. In this bustling Southern metropolis with several formidable lighting showrooms serving the surrounding community – and in some cases, located in close proximity – I was amazed at just different each showroom is and how well they co-exist.

At Lighting Loft, which is located in a design district where designers and other trade professionals frequent, the presentation is highly contemporary. Founded by Yaacov Golan (who had established two successful lighting showrooms in San Francisco before relocating to Atlanta), Lighting Loft has another distinction: in addition to carrying national and international brands, Golan and his team design and manufacture the company’s own LED-based lighting fixtures on-site for commercial projects nationwide as well as for residential.

In another design district area in the city – visited by designers as well as consumers – Masterpiece Lighting is located in a stand-alone building that once housed a renowned high-end art gallery.

For those who aren’t aware, Masterpiece rose from the ashes of Georgia Lighting (which was once the largest lighting showroom in the country) after it was purchased and closed some years later by Home Depot. Three plucky Georgia Lighting veterans – Dana Hunt, Susie Adams, and Phil Sherer – started over virtually from scratch to create an incredible business that, in addition to national brands, offers exclusive locally manufactured product as well as antiques.

Then there is Progressive Lighting, a well-established showroom chain with hands-on leadership from the Lee family and stores in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina. A go-to source for the builder community, management had to adapt its business model when the housing sector went bust. Progressive’s story is featured in this issue; however, you will learn more about Lighting Loft and Masterpiece Lighting in upcoming editions.

Navigating each of these businesses is the lighting rep. Todd Tracy of The Tracy Group generously allotted two full days out of his busy schedule to show me the uniqueness of his territory and the very different needs of his showroom clients. You can read about his journey in the lighting industry in this issue as well.

The Atlanta market is living proof that – no matter where you are located in the country – being different from your competition will make you stand out and succeed.

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