Warehouse-Lighting.com senses a glowing business opportunity

Made in Milwaukee

Warehouse-Lighting specializes in adding value to light fixtures by equipping them with sensors and other smart technology.

2805 S. 160th St., New Berlin
Industry: Lighting
Employees: 16

Warehouse-Lighting.com has grown over the past dozen years from a two-person operation in owner James Abraham’s basement to a 22,000-square-foot facility in New Berlin with a staff of 16.

As the name suggests, the company manufactures and distributes lights and fixtures for industrial, commercial and residential settings.

Warehouse-Lighting specializes in adding value to light fixtures by equipping them with sensors and other smart technology.
Warehouse-Lighting specializes in adding value to light fixtures by equipping them with sensors and other smart technology.

When Abraham started, he was working just as a distributor. Over time, he began adding some of his own products under the WareLight brand. Today, the company has started engaging in some light value-added manufacturing, wiring sensors into fixtures.

The latest evolution is one Abraham believes will help Warehouse-Lighting.com generate a lot more business while also saving companies money.

“The future, it’s all going to be sensors,” he said.

The company already uses photo, motion and light sensors to make sure lights are functioning optimally when a room is in use and aren’t wasting energy when it’s not.

“Think of how many people leave your office and they leave the lights on,” Abraham said.

The company has a direct sales model that has it selling direct to contractors or businesses. While eliminating a middle-man helps keep costs down, Abraham said the challenge is developing a “critical mass” of awareness about the company to fuel more sales.

Using building plans and layouts, Warehouse-Lighting works with customers over the phone to analyze a building’s space and energy use. Abraham said a lot of the upgrades to a lighting system are done with one-to-one replacements because that’s where rebates are available.

“A lot of business is based on what those rebates are giving back,” he said, noting that adding sensors usually increases the available rebates.

Warehouse-Lighting sends its products throughout the country and has provided materials for projects at Hilton Garden Inns, L’Oreal, NASA, Intel and Boeing.

“It goes into a little bit of everything,” Abraham said.

Distribution has been stronger on the East and West Coasts and in the South than it has been in the Midwest.

“Some of it could be the rebates and some of it could just be people being more Internet-savvy on picking up products in those areas. You know, (in the) Midwest we are kind of stuck in our ways.”

Steve Phillips, Warehouse-Lighting business development manager, said the potential cost savings are a big driver for businesses.

“A lot of companies that we deal with, especially the ones you can tell are really good at what they do, that’s one of the first things they get after,” he said.

Abraham said about 70 percent of the company’s business comes from retrofitting, updating and replacing existing lights and fixtures.

The sensors already are capable of saving money on energy costs, but Abraham said he sees them becoming even more integrated into a building in the future. That means the lighting system may communicate with the heating system, inside lights could coordinate with outdoor lights or lighting may focus on a path of egress.

Abraham doesn’t see it as a challenge for the business to continue to grow into these more advanced spaces.

“It’s just trying to figure out how they all integrate together,” he said.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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