Commercial lending provides financing for fixture in lighting business

From a business standpoint, the outlook for Jim Walters back in 2012 was partly cloudy. 

But the owner of Home Lighting in Colorado Springs found a guiding light with the help of Waypoint Bank. Today, Jim’s company is firmly back in its place as a leading supplier of custom lighting fixtures across southern Colorado.

Jim’s path to success wasn’t traditional.

Home Lighting dates back to 1952. That’s when Bo Gautin, a Russian immigrant who learned the business in New York’s Lighting District, set up shop in Colorado Springs. Bo was attracted by the news that the Air Force Academy was coming to the Pikes Peak region, and he anticipated the growth that was to come. 

Jim took over Home Lighting in the late 1990s, when he bought the established business that had fallen on lean times. Once the dominant lighting retailer in the Colorado Springs area, with 100 percent of the market, Home Lighting’s share of the market had slipped to about 20 percent when Jim stepped in.

Over a 10-year period and with a lot of hard work, Jim and his staff built Home Lighting back up to claim about 70 percent of area sales. After a successful stretch, it seemed like a good time to sell, and Jim found a buyer in 2008.

Unfortunately, the new owners hit their own rough patch and declared bankruptcy in 2012. Jim still held the rights to the trade name, and as the principal creditor, he was still owed payments that now wouldn’t be met. “I had a contract with them with payments stretching out over seven years,” Jim recalled.

The solution for Jim was to restart the business. And that’s where Waypoint Bank entered the story.

“They loaned me funds on the basis of my previous ownership of Home Lighting,” Jim said. “I had a low credit rating caused by (the previous owners’) failure and the amount of funds I was using to restart Home Lighting.”

Since resuming ownership, Jim adjusted his business model to focus on serving homebuilders, a strategy that brought Home Lighting back to prominence. Jim was also able to keep his veteran management team in place, including Lyndsay Blackwood – his store manager and head of contractor sales.

Home Lighting’s Jim Walters and Lyndsay Blackwood

L-R Home Lighting’s Jim Walters and Lyndsay Blackwood

“Lyndsay has been with me for 20-plus years,” he said. “She started with me a couple years after I originally bought Home Lighting. She has a degree in interior design from Northern Iowa and is well-known by the builders and designers in our market.”

In all, his leadership group totals more than 80 years of experience in the lighting business.

“Product knowledge is key in this industry and our team has had the training, industry experience, and achieved certifications in lighting by the American Lighting Association, which is rare,” Jim explained. “Our focus is to help solve the challenges our customers have to select the correct lighting that will also have the latest industry designs.”

As Home Lighting has returned to prosperity, Jim credits Waypoint Bank for sticking with him during the restoration process.

“The bank has supported my business with increases to our credit line as we grew and needed funds for this business expansion,” he said. “They have been a true partner … I recommend them all the time.”

Cover image: L-R Colorado Market President Bob Lucia, Home Lighting owner Jim Walter, and Becky Akers, Colorado Senior Credit Officer at Home Lighting in downtown Colorado Springs.

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