Christmas light installers persist through tight economy

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 2:38 PM

Randi Weston, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

Hiring a professional Christmas light installer may seem like a nice, but completely unnecessary, luxury purchase for many families in today’s economy. That is, anyone but the designated family member obliged to scale a ladder and hang Christmas lights across the treacherous, often icy, slopes of a home’s rooftop.

However, Clay Larkin, owner of Vibrant Lighting, Clearfield, said with a few adjustments to pricing, he hasn’t seen a drop in demand for his company’s services since the economy tanked several years ago.

“The economy has impacted business,” Larkin said. “But thankfully, it has not impacted demand. Currently, we are increasing at a rate of about 50 percent growth each year. The downside to the economy this year is that prices have been forced downward in an attempt to retain and find clients. The upside is the price adjustment has been minimal, and appears to have only impacted homes in lower income brackets.”

Dustin Hamson, owner of Christmas Nights Decorators and Shamrock Pest and Lawn, Roy, said he thinks demand for Christmas light installation has actually grown.

“This year the economy has actually shown a boost ... over the last three years, in my opinion,” Hamson said. “We have more work than we can handle at the moment. With most people wanting to start the Christmas season early, deadline and the demand are constantly battling. This year the weather has been fairly nice, which always helps with the amount of work we can get done.”

Hamson said his business is busy with light installation from October to December. The company then focuses on light removal from January to March, before switching over to offering an array of lawn care services and event lighting services through March and April.

“We specialize in fertilizer, bug sprays, tree sprays, and weekly maintenance,” Hamson said. “We also do lighting for weddings and special occasions. So those events will pop up over the spring, summer and fall months.”

Vibrant Lighting, however, focuses strictly on, well, lighting.

“One of the most significant differentiators of Vibrant Lighting is that we truly specialize in decorative lighting; we only focus on lighting all year round,” Larkin said. “This allows us to ensure the highest quality and focus on each job. We also provide services for weddings, birthdays, pool parties, etc. The Christmas season is our busiest season, so the slow season provides us time to pursue other personal hobbies and interests throughout the rest of the year.”

For Hamson, choosing to be a Christmas light installer was a logical choice because he said it provides job security that isn’t based on the fickleness of nature.

“In this state as many know, the weather is very unpredictable,” Hamson said. “Most lawn companies or construction companies plow snow during the winter months. But, whether it snows or not, Christmas comes every year. Every year people need something to brighten their holidays. I wanted a job that was there every winter; not one based on the weather. I deal with Mother Nature the rest of the seasons.”

Each company has two crews of two to four people and services an average of eight homes a day. Pricing for Christmas light installation is roughly based on the square footage of the home, but can be complicated by a variety of factors such as: steep pitches, unusual roof lines, the addition of trees and bushes, and bulb preference.

In a season which is for many fraught with to-do lists, Hamson and Larkin said choosing to hire a Christmas light installer is a choice that can take a bit of the stress out of a busy holiday season.

“We are experienced, far more than that of the ‘honey-do’ husband or loving son; who usually is not too thrilled or comfortable with climbing up on the roof or trying to wrap a sappy pine tree,” Hamson said. “Especially in the cold. We have all the professional equipment, cords and lights, ladders, etcetera.”

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