By Alicia Cunningham | Apr 10, 2016
Salt Lake City
Located: Salt Lake City, Utah
Hammerton custom decorative lighting products can be found worldwide. But the company prides on keeping the manufacturing process – even the glass – very local.
"The majority of the lighting industry manufactures off-shore in Asia,” says Bill Shott, co-owner and president of Hammerton, “And of the few domestic players that exist, most of them source their glass off-shore."
And manufacturing custom lighting domestically has advantages. Clients are able to avoid import tariffs, overseas freight costs and the long lead times required to ship products over long distances. Clients also benefit from a higher level of service delivery than is possible from off-shore manufacturers.
It’s 'manufacturing 101': reduce the length of the supply chain and improve quality control.
“When issues arise – a fixture is damaged during shipping or installation, a client changes product specifications, or someone needs additional fixtures at the last minute – we can address it quickly and painlessly,” Shott explains. “Being closer to the customer eliminates much of the risk and complexity inherent in purchasing a custom product.”
Hammerton is one of the largest U.S.-based custom lighting manufacturers, but as with other successful companies, it’s early days were modest. The company began in a small garage just 20 years ago.
Levi Wilson, one of the company’s two founders, grew up in his father’s ornamental iron fabrication shop. He shared his father’s passion for metalcraft and began designing unique fixtures, custom-crafted for each client.
Wilson still works for Hammerton as Chief Designer. “He’s our secret weapon,” says Shott.
Today, Hammerton is known for its custom lighting in large hotels and resorts, as well as mid-tier restaurants such as The Cheesecake Factory. “We are also a very big player in the high-end residential market,” says Nancy Shott, co-owner and marketing director.
“Some of our most interesting work involves whole home lighting design," adds Nancy. "We’re frequently brought into residential projects when the homeowner tells the interior designer or architect: ‘I want my decorative lighting to be as unique and distinctive as the rest of my home.’ “
"We provide end-to-end project management, starting with concept development all the way through to installation," explains Nancy. “It allows us to be intimately involved in each project, and to create lighting that provides a cohesive design element throughout the home."
Nancy and Bill believe that working directly with design professionals gives Hammerton an early window into design trends. “But we don’t rely on that 100 percent," says Nancy. “We pay very close attention and keep our ear to the ground. We gain deep insight about what’s around the corner from multiple sources: customers, insiders from several industries, and our collective observations."
The company has recently expanded its offerings with a new brand called Hammerton Studio sold through retail lighting showrooms. “Like all our products, Hammerton Studio fixtures are handcrafted here in Utah, but they’re designed to hit more accessible price point," says Bill.
Challenges: Shott’s biggest challenge has been expanding into the dealer channel. “It has been a challenging transition, requiring a whole new sales force and a separate web presence,” he admits. But three years after the launch, Shott is glad they made the leap. "It has opened up a tremendous number of growth opportunities for us."
Opportunities: The Hammerton Studio dealer line is doubling every year. “We’re really excited to continue building that momentum," says Bill. “We want to become the largest domestic decorative lighting manufacturer across the board."
Needs: Attracting and maintain great talent. “We have a really unusual team working for us," says Nancy Shott. “While our lighting is incredibly unique, the key to our competitive edge is our service delivery. We’re very particular about providing a superior customer experience and are committed to completely delighting each and every client we work with."