Meet Richard Lentz of Lentz Landscape Lighting

Today we’d like to introduce you to Richard Lentz.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Richard. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
After graduating from college I went to work for a mechanical and electrical engineering firm in Dallas. I went through an extensive training program starting in the field learning the electrical, plumbing and HVAC trades. I then continued the training in the warehouse operation learning the prefabrication process that supplied the trades in the field. The third step of the training was in the office. I developed a quality control program for the field operation and ultimately became administrative service manager for the service operations. My tenure with the engineering company provided me with a wealth of knowledge which I continue to utilize today. I was reared in a family that had their own business. For as long as I can remember at family functions and holidays I would listen to my grandfather and father talk business. It was always my goal to eventually own my own business. The key was to find the right type of business that would fully utilize skills the I had been developing with the engineering firm yet not competing with the firm.

I was asked to have lunch with an individual that had his own landscape lighting business. He was looking for someone to manage the business operations. I was not interested in joining his firm but I was intrigued by the business itself. This business would allow me to utilize the electrical experience I had obtained, allowed me to be outdoors which I enjoyed and would provide an avenue to be creative. I spent a great deal of time trying to find courses on landscape lighting and in those days there were none. For about 2 years I continued trying to find as much information possible about exterior lighting but continually came up empty. I needed something to push me in one direction or the other. I needed to either give up the security I had with the engineering firm and venture out on my own or stay put and put these dreams behind me. That moment happened around 2:00 one morning in 1986. The engineering company was a large firm and had 24 hour on-site security. I was always on call for any company emergencies that might arise. At 2:00 am I received a call that the company had received a bomb threat and the Dallas Bomb Squad needed me to come to the facility. When I arrived the officer said that they receive bomb threats fairly often but most were false alarms. He asked me to go on top of the building with his crew so I could point out the areas of the CEO, President and Vice-Presidents office. I told him I could point them out from the ground but he preferred that I go on the roof with them. Reluctantly, I went on the roof and pointed out the areas they were mainly concerned with. They asked me to stay in one corner of the roof away from them and they would call if they had any other questions. As I stood on that roof wondering if I was going to be blown away with the building and bomb squad I thought surely if I put as much effort in my own company as I was for this firm it was certainly worth the risk. That was the moment I decided I was ready to try landscape lighting on my own.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There were no formal classes or text books in 1986 that I could rely on. The economic environment was not good in 1986 as well. Many friends and family members thought I was crazy to give up the position and security I had to go off on my own. Banks were not interested in small business loans due to the real estate bust that they had experienced. Customers were reluctant to give a newcomer an opportunity in a very specialized field. My two competitors had several years of experience and a great deal of name recognition.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Lentz Landscape Lighting – what should we know?
Lentz Landscape Lighting was established in 1986. We specialize in exterior lighting systems. Due to the specialization of the field we work in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, all over Texas and throughout the United States. I am most proud of the fact that many of our employees have invested so many years with the company. My master electrician has been with me for 31 of the 32 years in business and has virtually grown up with the Company. My lead superintendent has been with me for 29 years. Many others have been with the Company for 10-15 years. I believe this experience level throughout the Company allows us to provide our clients a superior product and expertise.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Our success is most definitely attributed to our employees. Their willingness to stick with me through the lean years has meant a great deal to me personally and has allowed us to be recognized as a leader in our industry. From a personal standpoint my grandfather that owned his own business was my mentor growing up. The lessons I learned from him at a very early age continues to resonate with me today.

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