Todd Director, Vice President of Connecticut Lighting Centers, joined Byron and Nicole for One Community Conversations. They discuss how the current situation has changed business short-term, how CT Lighting Centers continues to support employees, and how changes will affect long-term business plans.
So what was your day to day like for January, February, and how has it changed today? What are you guys doing to innovate and pivot during this time?
Well, you know, obviously, it’s changed a lot. Our business, Connecticut Lighting Centers, we’re open to the public. So, a good majority of what we do, about 65%, is servicing people who walk in the showrooms on a daily basis. So obviously, all that’s changed, the doors are locked. Basically, we’re taking people by appointment only, and primarily for projects. If somebody just needs a couple of lights, we’re trying to do do that over FaceTime or another means of technology.
What majority of your business is the contractor or the developer? Those individuals have been deemed essential.
About 30-35%, and we’re here to support them. We’re running deliveries daily. We have a distribution center here in Hartford, that’s about 25,000 square feet of inventory as well as staged items and orders for builders. Our delivery schedule is actually it’s busier than it normally is. And again, I think a lot of people are trying to get out in front of whatever may come to try to get all their deliveries all set.
Are you rethinking how you’re gonna operate in the future in terms of your showrooms? What thoughts have you given to having multiple showrooms?
We are in a different product than most, because we’re not a big online play. Online, lighting is tough because it’s so hard to visualize lighting without seeing.
So for the most part, we’re looking at how we can do things better. I think a lot of things are going to change after this. We’re analyzing our business as a whole and how we do everything. As owners, and now operators of everything that’s going on, we’re able to look at everything from start to finish – our process, how it’s handled, what the perception versus the reality is. So when we do bring all of our people back on, we’re going to change a lot of things. And it’s going to be for the better.
In the short term here, the most important thing for us is to make sure we keep this place going so we can pay everyone’s health care, especially during a health crisis. We have a very good health care program, and all of our people (just under 90 employees) are still on it.
Have any employees come to you asking about company plans? Or are you getting out in front of that as much as possible to keep them informed?
As far as our company plans, we’re always communicating with all of our staff, our director, and absolutely we’re letting our people know everything that we’re doing. At the end of this, our goal is to come out of this extremely strong so we can bring every single person back.
Have you had to lay people off so that they are able to at least collect unemployment at this point?
So what we did was, we basically furloughed everyone, so everyone that’s not currently here, is laid off in the sense that they can fully collect every opportunity that comes forward for them. And we are taking care of the healthcare that they currently have. So there’s no change whatsoever to their health care. There’s no change to their 401k, none of that, they’re just not getting their paycheck. That’s going to come in the form of unemployment.
Todd, what are you seeing right now in the community? Something positive, something that you would want to share with everybody that you’re seeing?
I love The Gift Card Project. I just think as a whole if everyone could just do whatever they can to support local people in any which way they can, I think that’s just the best thing.
The people who are in the service industries – the barbers, the hairdressers, you know, they don’t have an opportunity to do anything. Any way people can support them.
I know a couple of the gyms that we do business with and that we’re friends with, they were basically mandated to stop billing. I told my gym I want a gym to come back to, bill me monthly.