Lights aglow as business grows for light installers

Lights aglow as business grows for light installers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Christmas light business is in full swing across the Queen City as the holiday tiptoes closer.

Professional Christmas light companies said business is outpacing last year, and in the last two years have seen a marked increase. 

What You Need To Know

  • Two Charlotte-area Christmas light installers say business has increased dramatically in last two years
  • One business owner says his customers have doubled, with dozens of new leads each day
  • Both business owners say COVID-19’s impact on travel, vacations and seasonal moods is leading to the increase in holiday decor 

One of those installers, Ryan Culp, said he has seen the business double since last year.

“This year, we’re already at like 75, 80 [houses]. So, we’ve definitely done more than double,” Culp said while on an installation site.

In 2020, Culp said his business, Christmas Light Installers LLC, worked on about 35 houses. 

But now, he and his friends in the business said the last two years combined have been a boom as people look to find joy in the pandemic.

“We think that a lot of people have just had a really rough year, and they were hoping 2021 would bring better fortune than 2020. But, it seems to almost have gotten worse. But, I think Christmas is one time people can take their mind off the problems of life and family and coronavirus,” Culp added.

This year, Culp said his business is getting about 40 new leads a day for homes interested in professional light installation.

“This is kind of work that doesn’t feel like work. It almost feels like we’re kids again, just playing around at our friend’s house,” Culp said with a smile.

Installations start as early as October and run through about the second week of December. Like Santa, Culp said he’s got a lot of practice on roofs at Christmas time.

“I actually learned to be comfortable with heights when I first started skiing. You kind of look down the mountain, the only way to be a good skier is not to be afraid, or else you’ll fall. So, I kind of apply that same principle to doing Christmas lights,” Culp said.

Culp launched his own business in the Christmas light industry two years ago, after working for a friend’s business in Indiana during college. 

“I just met a guy who went to the same college, Indiana Bible College, and he just needed help doing lights. I said sure I’d love to do it. Two to three years later, I learned everything about the business I could,” Culp said.

When not installing lights, the business does other outdoor work in the spring, summer and early fall. Culp said it helps keep employees retained and working. 

“You know when I was a kid I used to put up Christmas lights for my family without permission. I would use scotch tape. I would tape them around the windows, I would tape them around the pillars,” Culp said about his passion for the business.

A typical house installation takes a couple of hours, and can cost anywhere from $750 to a few thousand dollars, depending on the intricacy of the design. 

Across town, another Christmas light installer said he’s also seen business take off in the last two years.

Shawn Baker with I Need Lights said after starting Christmas light installations three years ago, he’s seen a major increase since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

This winter, Baker said they had roughly 100 houses lined up for installs, nearly filling the schedule. 

“So, last year our numbers really increased with leads coming in due to COVID because people were at home. They couldn’t travel, they couldn’t go anywhere, so instead of spending their money going out, they decided to light up the house and enjoy the holidays at home,” Baker said.

Both Baker and Culp said one of the best parts of the job is seeing people’s reactions when the lights are installed and first turned on at night. It has been a good two years of business for both Santa Claus and these Christmas light installers.

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