enLIGHTenment magazine is proud to present the winners of our annual awards honoring those individuals in our industry who have been nominated by their peers for leading by example, standing out in their field, and inspiring others.
Ryan Ranzino: VP/Sales, Crystorama Lighting | Westbury, N.Y.
How did you enter the lighting business?
After I graduated from LSU (Louisiana State University), I took a management position at a business called Your Other Warehouse, which was owned by Home Depot. We took on World Imports as a brand [after the late Harry Gilham sold that business to Home Depot] and it was there that I learned how to sell multiple categories. When Home Depot closed the Atlanta offices and warehouse, they didn’t know quite what to do with it…but we [at Your Other Warehouse] did. We sold to plumbing distributors every day. I became a regional manager for them, doing training sessions to plumbing distributors about the lighting category. We were growing! This was right around 2003-2004, we were rocking and rolling at the time and people didn’t know what to make of us.
Then, through a rep, I got a phone call from Crystorama saying that I had come highly recommended and would I like to meet with them about a sales manager position. I was very flattered to have been thought of in that light, and never thought I would have gotten the job! I was just a Louisiana transplant who was living in Michigan at the time…but I did!
What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen?
Technology and LED! Another change has been how shoppers are getting their lighting information and how quickly they can buy something after getting that information. I mean, compare this to 2007, when they’d have to drive to a store before it closes, take a look at the selection, and then probably drive back…now they go into a store with an idea of what they want already. The knowledge that consumers have access to nowadays has changed everything! It’s changed buying habits and we – the industry – are trying to keep up with how buyers buy and consumers shop. We’re constantly running on that treadmill.
What do you think has been the key to your success?
I like to think I listen really well. I’ve been taught not just to listen, but to listen with the intent to learn and with the intent to better myself and the company. I’m always actively listening and taking in feedback.
What do you know now that you wish you did when starting out?
I would tell my 2007 self to “Believe in yourself. You know what you’re doing!” I went into this industry bright-eyed and willing to learn. I was this anxious person who was realizing that people in this industry have been selling lights for generations and here I am, so young. I felt like everybody had known everybody else for 100 years! It’s truly a family industry and I felt like I was on the outside with no insider knowledge. I just remember being so nervous at my first market. I’ve learned to stay the course, take a deep breath, and just do what I do. Once you’re in this industry, everyone is so welcoming.
What does the future hold for the lighting industry?
I think the industry is going to go through more transition with LED and see more fixtures using integrated LED. The bulbs we’ve had for so many years – those choices, shapes, and sizes – are all changing. I hope that brick-and-mortar stores continue to thrive. I think it’s going to be a challenge, but one our customers are ready to take on. Retail is tough when you’re selling a niche category like lighting. You need to get your boxing gloves on! I think more manufacturers, like Crystorama, will be there to help our customers grow. The educated consumer is only going to become more educated and more tech-savvy. We have to keep up with them.