WEST JORDAN, Utah, Nov. 13, 2020 (Gephardt Daily/Bill’s Marketplace/*Sponsored) — Inventors call it the “Eureka” moment: that split-second of insight, a sudden flash of brilliance that propels a simple idea into a thriving business.
Ryan Whittaker, the inventor and co-founder of Trimlight, the permanent holiday home lighting system, has seen that flash of brilliance. As a life-long tinkerer, entrepreneur and self-described “solutions guy” he truly believes Thomas Edison’s famous line, that “Genius is one percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.”
The perspiration that inspired Ryan’s “Eureka” moment came in late fall 2010 as his wife asked him to once again hang Christmas lights for the season. As he climbed the cold steel ladder in frigid, snowy conditions trying to get his freezing fingers to clip the lights to the gutters and eves, all he could think about is how difficult and frustrating the whole process is, and how he would just have to come back out on the ladder in a couple short months, once again in frigid conditions, to take the same lights down and find a place to store them.
Four hours later, while thawing out in his garage, Ryan reflected on the tangled ball of old-fashioned lights lying at his feet. Should he take the time to untangle it, perhaps flick each bulb to make sure it still worked? Or, simply do what he’d done the year before, and the year before that, stuff ’em in a box, and deal with ’em next December.
There had to be a better way, Ryan thought to himself — then, suddenly, in an instant, another light switched on — this one inside Ryan’s head. Sparked by his background in design and roofing systems, Ryan saw the vision — a permanent home lighting system — invisible by day, elegant at night, bathing homes and neighborhoods in the soft festive glow of holiday lights, regardless of the time of year. No more hoisting ladders, no more high-wire acts. Just a sleek, durable lighting system with an infinite array of colors and patterns, controlled by a simple app, right in the palm of your hand.
Enter Johnny Ware and Aaron Rasmussen, next door neighbors, now close friends, both highly skilled in marketing and sales with the same passion as Ryan for developing small businesses. They were not inventors, but they recognized a stroke of genius when they saw one. While Ryan explained his concept about “permanent holiday lighting that is hidden during the day and left up all year” Johnny and Aaron began to have visions of their own.
It marked the beginning of a beautiful partnership.
Soon, the family garage — site of Ryan’s epiphany — was a beehive of activity. Ryan started testing materials and building prototypes, then they all began strategizing, investing in the project, and lining up others who believed in the brilliance of Trimlight’s business model.
As the design work progressed they decided to showcase this soon to be patented product on Ryan’s very own house. The neighbors were awestruck when he flipped the switch, reminiscent of a “Clark Griswold” moment. Ryan, Aaron and Johnny knew from the “oohs and ahs” up and down the street they were onto something big.
“We love selling a unique product that no one has ever seen before that brings people so much happiness and excitement,” Johnny told Bill’s Marketplace — and sell they have. The first year in business, Trimlight installed its revolutionary lighting system on a total of 26 Utah homes; the next year they totaled 54; the year after that they installed 110. Then they started selling nationwide. They’ve continued to double their number of sales, each and every year since inception!
So, what is it that Ryan, Aaron and Johnny credit for Trimlight’s success?
“It’s all about the lights, those beautiful, programmable lights,” Ryan said, “and the simple joy and serenity they seem to inspire in people pretty much everywhere. When we invented Trimlight it was largely with the spirit of Christmas in mind, and then, the more we thought about it, it occurred to us, why not celebrate other times of year,” he said. Then with that same inventive mind Ryan worked with engineers to develop lights that could change to millions of different colors with a simple app allowing homeowners to program and customize their Trimlight system.
“Now we have customers tell us they use them every single night, and for every single holiday, whether it’s Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. You can even program the lights for an extra spooky Halloween.”
“And it’s not just on holidays when folks use the lights,” Ryan said. “They’re using them for anniversaries, birthdays or whenever the Jazz or Utes or BYU are playing. What better way to commemorate a great life-changing event, like the birth of a child or graduation, than casting the memory in lights?
“And it’s not just on holidays when customers use the lights,” Ryan said. “They’re using them for anniversaries, birthdays or whenever the Jazz, Utes or BYU are playing. What better way to commemorate a great life-changing event, like the birth of a child or graduation, than casting the memory in lights?
“They also use their Trimlight systems for security lighting,” Johnny added, “illuminating backyards and doorways and keeping things safe. We have businesses that do the same. You can actually use the app to program your lights to go on and off while you’re away and make it look like someone’s around,” Johnny said.
“Most importantly, we back Trimlight with a lifetime product warranty and 5 year labor warranty. So, say in the unlikely event that within the first five years a light goes out, or something else goes wrong, we are going to fix that free of charge. After five years, we’re still going to come out and fix it and we’re never going to charge you for the parts. If that $200 controller goes kaputt after seven years, we’re going swap that out. We’ll charge a service fee, but that’s only going to be $20 to $40, because it will be a 10 minute repair.
“It’s all about customer service, and we pride ourselves on that,” Johnny said.
At the end of another long and rewarding day, the owners of Trimlight gather for a moment to strategize about how to manage the rapid growth of their company and where Trimlight goes from here. With over 80 dealerships across Utah, the U.S. and Canada, they can only imagine what the future brings. Will they continue to expand, or maybe develop something new?
“You never know,” said Ryan with a smile. “We are always looking to the next horizon.”