I recently caught up with Mike Libman, National Sales Director, Residential Systems for DMF Lighting to talk about their entry into the CI channel, plans for the future, and product solutions and support they offer the channel.
Maureen Jenson: DMF has certainly been making waves in the custom installation channel. Tell our readers a little something about the company’s history?
Mike Libman: DMF Lighting is a family owned business that has been around for 30 years. We believe that lighting is about enhancing the things people love about their homes and support our partners in providing unique LED lighting solutions to their clients. Mark and Faye Danesh started the company in their home in California and their son Michael Danesh took the reigns just as LED was maturing to develop the award-winning modular systems we are well known for today. Our philosophy is that through a focus on engineering and product, we can differentiate ourselves by providing a solution that is simple, elegant and flexible. This philosophy along with putting the appropriate resources in place to ensure our partners’ success has been a winning strategy for us and we are excited for what the future holds.
MJ: When did you first see what a great fit your lighting products would be for the Custom Installation channel?
ML: In 2017 we started working with integrators to help solve fixture/lighting control compatibility issues but quickly realized the opportunity was much larger than that. Integrators are uniquely positioned to provide an entire lighting solution to their clients. That includes their existing offerings in lighting control, window treatments, exterior lighting and now light fixtures. Not only is this an additional revenue stream for dealers but it is an opportunity to enhance the way homeowners feel and interact in their homes.
Since then we have built a national rep network, partnered with HTSA and ProSource, as well as many of the best dealers in the industry. This year we were named a CE Pro Bullet Brand and believe that we are just scratching the surface of the true potential of working with a very talented group in this channel.
MJ: What are your plans for new product introductions to the CI Channel at CEDIA 2020?
ML: This year we will be launching the DID Series that is exclusive to the CI Channel. We have built a team with decades of CI Channel experience and taken the feedback from our partners in the field. The DID Series will provide enhanced performance, features and flexibility while maintaining the familiar modular form factor we are well known for. Come join us at Virtual CEDIA Expo 2020 to learn more. Actually, the first person to meet with us virtually at the event will be the first person outside of our organization to see the product!
MJ: How has the Coronavirus affected your business and how are you pushing through this unprecedented time?
ML: While COVID has provided some unique challenges, our team’s longevity and experience have proved valuable in uncertain times. We had some aggressive sales growth goals for 2020 (laid out before COVID) and we are currently trending well above those targets. Our supply chain remains strong and we have product readily available. DMF has continued to invest in the channel both in personnel and product. As integrators focus on new revenue streams, fixtures are the perfect category to increase revenue per project and even open the door to projects they would have otherwise missed. Retrofit opportunities are another way to see immediate revenue while not needing to be beholden to new construction build cycles. Having a flexible, simple and available solution along with the resources and support that DMF provides have put our partners in a position to grow.
MJ: How are your product lines meeting the needs of today’s integrator?
ML: Integrators want something that is unique, simple and available. DMF’s modular approach eliminates a lot of the risk involved in entering a new category and you can rely on it performing as you expect. If aesthetics, output, color temperature, optics, or use cases need to be changed, it is simple from both a labor and material perspective. If mistakes are made, they can be solved quickly and affordably. Even in specification, you don’t need to dig through an encyclopedia in order to find what you are looking for. Most importantly, clients love the way their home looks when DMF is installed.
MJ: What types of benefits, incentives, etc. do you offer new dealers signing up?
ML: We have experience in this channel and are set up with the Integrator in mind. Training is available in not only product, but industry and channel navigation as well. We have a showroom program with discounted product and assistance in how to set it up in your space. We also offer lighting layout services to further enhance the solution approach to selling lighting. Lastly, we have a team that is available to support you in communicating with your trade partners and clients.
MJ: What about dealer support? How do you go above and beyond to support your dealers?
ML: We have had a number of dealers generate over $100K in DMF sales their first year selling fixtures. It all starts with asking what your client/trade partners’ plan is for lighting. From there we collaborate and come up with a design and bill of materials. After going through that process together on the first project, dealers feel more comfortable asking for the business and see the revenue opportunity. From there it grows quickly.
MJ: Any great dealer success stories you would like to share with our readers?
ML: This is a tight knit industry and it has been amazing to see the collaboration between organizations. Many of our new partners come to us through dealer-to-dealer referrals and support from our buying group partners, HTSA and ProSource who have been amazing at promoting the category as a whole. We have worked with many different size and type of organizations and have seen small organizations with traditional audio focus see comparable success to large organizations with electrical divisions.
MJ: What silver lining do you see for our industry during the time of Coronavirus?
ML: The good news is that this is temporary, and we are already seeing some of the pent-up demand. People are spending more time at home giving them more reasons to invest in their homes and projections from integrators are more optimistic than they were a few months ago. From a light fixture perspective, there is so much green field that is not being addressed that it is a great opportunity for dealers to diversify, find new, or grow revenue streams. While not every home has a theater, every home has light fixtures.
MJ: Anything else you would like our readers to know about DMF?
ML: We are here to help. Use us as a resource for DMF product but also general lighting information and industry knowledge. We listen to our customers and our product roadmap and resources are heavily influenced by our partners. If you are interested in learning more about DMF, please visit us at our virtual CEDIA booth or reach out to us directly.