How I Got Started !!!
One of the most popular questions that I have been asked over the years is “How did you ever get started in this ?” Like most entrepreneurs, I didn’t start out wanting to build Lighthouses for a living. I was an athlete in school, didn’t like reading-like most boys, enjoyed spending time with the ladies, graduated college, married my beautiful wife, and had a full-time Government job with the Bureau of Prisons in Allenwood, PA. Sounds pretty normal so far right? Well then I had this brilliant idea of making my mom a lawn lighthouse for Christmas in 1995. At the time, I just made it out of wood but it was very detailed and authentic in appearance. Well, she loved it and she took it to their beach house in Ocean City, Maryland. Of course, it was a hit with all of my mother’s friends and soon they began calling and asking me if I would consider making one for them?
Of course I said yes, and that is when it started to begin. At first it was maybe one a month and then two a month and this wasn’t too bad. Remember I still had a full-time job with the Government. Then it started to snowball, Mom kept talking to more friends and then her friends got their lighthouses and they started talked to their friends and yep you guessed it the requests for lawn lighthouses increased twofold. Soon I was attempting to build two or three a week now in our little basement in the first house. I tried to keep up as best I could with the demand, but it was painfully obvious that I was going to have to make a choice and quickly before my wife disowned me!
With the side business growing, we added a new two car garage for my workshop. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to compete in the wooden Lighthouse industry as that was already established in the area through the Amish. So I began to research higher end models and forms of lighthouses. I discovered a method that wasn’t being utilized and decided that if I was going to do this, I was going to have to go all the way. After talking things over with my wife, I purchased a specialized CNC Foam cutting machine from France and had it shipped to the US. I needed to be trained on how the machine worked and so the company that sold me the machine sent an instructor to teach me everything I needed to know about it. It was at that time that I started my business full-time in 1997. I began attending craft shows and trade shows to get my name out there and build up my brand. I knew that if I really wanted to make something of this business that I would need to hit the internet and expand my horizons. The World Wide Web was a huge part of my Entrepreneurial endeavors. I did what any energetic hard working young business owner does, I simply just dug both feet in and I taught myself how to sell my product on the internet.
Once I made the decision to build Lawn Lighthouses full-time, I worked two more months at my Government job and then quit. I must say EVERYONE thought I was absolutely crazy. I had co-workers, friends and family saying things like: Kevin “are you okay”? “Are you really going to give up a good secure government job to go out and make lawn lighthouses?” “Especially when we do not even have a large body of water anywhere around us!” I even remember my Father coming up to me and saying “Son, are you sure you know what your doing”? I totally understood what people were thinking and I probably would have done the same thing if the shoe was on the other foot. But, they did not know what I knew. I had prayed about this for 2 years and I knew that God was leading me step by step into this position. You see there is one major point I left out. About a year before I went full time into the lighthouse business I became sick. In January of that year I was diagnosed with a very rare form of Lieukemia, called Hairy Cell Leukemia. That 6-8 months of my life was a total whirl wind. My life was totally turned upside down. I took chemotherapy for 3 weeks straight 24/7 and was given all kinds of drugs to kill these infected blood cells. With family friends and most importantly with God on my side I came through everything with a whole new perspective on life. So you see I know life is short and it could be taken away at any given time, so why not spend my time here on earth doing what I really love doing. I just so happen to love building lighthouses and running my own business.
Now, to finish my story. The Internet became a huge part of my sales and the business continued to grow and grow and grow. My wife and I built the home that we currently live in. We had our contractor build one section or wing just to house my CNC machine. We also had him build another wing or section off our home for a workshop. Believe it or not even after this we still did not have enough room to fill the demand. So then in August of 2005 we expanded again and built our manufacturing facility just next door to our home. This building now houses the business office and our detail painting areas. With the addition of this facility a new and exciting world opened up for us and we can now meet the demand for our deluxe stucco lawn lighthouses.
Just recently as of September of 2015 we have increased our web presence by upgrading to a very high end Web Site. The site has a full downloadable catalog, product videos, photo galleries, detailed information. You name it, lighthouseman.com has it. We also have expanded our distributors with approximately 70 distributors now selling our lighthouses across the US. We have everything and anything regarding lighthouse lawn décor. In our quest to provide beautiful lawn lighthouses to the public we have now become the #1 Lawn Lighthouse manufacturer in the country for Custom Crafted Stucco Lawn Lighthouses and lighthouses accessories. We still continue to grow and expand year after year thanks to our wonderful employees and awesome customers that continue to spread the word about our lighthouses and customer service. All I can say in closing are two things: 1) Thanks MOM ! 2) To God be the glory !!! Kevin “The Lighthouse Man” Owner and founder