Lisa Dixon of Pace Lighting in Savannah, Ga., first sought a career in politics before she (an idealist at heart) became disillusioned by the experience and gave association management a try. That career move led to a deep passion for the lighting industry that has helped her team at Pace Lighting become a Finalist in the prestigious ARTS Awards.
How did you enter the Lighting industry?
I entered the lighting industry as it seems many of us have — by total chance a little over six years ago. My bachelor’s degree is in Political Science and when I realized real-life politics weren’t quite as idealistic as I had thought, I transitioned into a career in non-profit association management. It was while working with the Independent Electrical Contractors Association in Georgia that I became acquainted with the owner of Pace Lighting, who offered me a position to come work at his newly built lighting showroom in Savannah. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up, and I have since fallen totally in love with the lighting industry. I could not imagine ever doing anything else.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen?
My lighting career began as the Recession firmly took hold so I have no frame of reference within the industry of how it “used to be.” However, when I started at Pace Lighting there wasn’t really even an idea of an IMAP or MAPP price among our vendors, so I’d say the biggest changes I’ve seen outside of the obvious technological advancements with LEDs is the fact that we all had to get a little smarter and more protective of our markets and pricing.
Customers have changed in that they have all the information right at their fingertips to be incredibly savvy shoppers. While this usually isn’t a problem, we do regularly have times where the Internet has given our customers a sense of being the experts instead of us. All in all, the changes I see are for the better — as a retailer, I have to add that as long as brick and mortar showrooms are reasonably protected we will all have a great future.
What has been the key to your success?
When I joined the lighting industry as a part of an independent business, it all just clicked for me that this is what I was meant to do. I work hard, I pay attention to details, and I truly love the lighting industry and all of the people who make up our community. I think any success I’ve had comes from my passion for the industry and my desire to grow, protect, and strengthen not only my business, but the industry as a whole. This is my career and I want to retire from Pace Lighting one day (in the very distant future!) and hopefully pass the store on to the next generation of owners. That desire for long-term sustainable success really motivates me every day.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Just how complicated lighting can be! In all honesty, I knew nothing about lighting when I started and being such a blank slate worked really well for me. I received my ALA certification and on the job training plus have built my knowledge base from there. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lighting can be unexpectedly complicated sometimes, and that can be difficult when dealing with customers. Other than that, I would have loved to have known in advance just how fantastic our industry is in terms of people and community! It is such a benefit to one’s career to not only have a job one loves, but to also be a part of an overall group that is as supportive and generous as ours.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
I am a retailer at heart and I truly adore the business, so I see myself staying here at Pace Lighting, where I am lucky enough to be a part of a wonderful staff and local community. I hope to continue to grow in my position and within the industry in general. I would love the opportunity to give back to our industry more and to be able to do everything I can to support and advance lighting as a specialty industry for many years to come.