In each issue we focus on one of our advertisers to learn more about how they developed and how they are serving the DJ market. This time we spoke with Mike Spencer, president of Innovative LED Stage & DJ Lighting, near Peoria, IL, whose story parallels many DJs’ stories about moving from a day job into their own business.
Like many of you, Mike is moving closer and closer to making his passion the thing that completely pays the bills. Mobile Beat President Ryan Burger sat down for a quick chat with Mike…
Ryan Burger: Mike, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Mike Spencer: Well, I’ve been in the music business the majority of my adult life. I’ve always been the sound and light geek in the bands I’ve been in, and that kind of drove me towards the lighting aspect of it, especially when LEDs became more popular and more readily available.
In my regular life I’ve been in sales for the last 25 years, in a whole different area, and so I kind of looked at it as an opportunity… to develop my own business and eventually move away from a regular day job into a full-time business career selling LED lighting.
R B: So you obviously had worked with regular lighting before, but you started your own sales venture right when LEDs started to become real popular, correct?
I guess for those that aren’t totally up speed, give us a little bit of the lowdown of traditional lighting versus LED and why LED is the future.
M S: Well, the traditional lighting always pulls so much power for a band, for a company that’s supporting a light show and a sound system for an outdoor gig or a large venue. The amperage requirements are so much more for the standard lighting products.
LEDs dramatically reduce the amperage draw. They also reduce the heat generated onstage, compared with the old standard lighting products. So a lot of that is really what drove me towards LED, because the bands that I’ve been in, they’ve been big bands. We’ve played small to medium clubs and it’s always difficult to get enough amperage to run a decent light show.
R B: Yes, the power issue is probably the biggest issue. Being able to hook up 32 par can lights on one circuit of electricity and one circuit of DMX is absolutely fantastic.
LED lighting in the DJ arena has been around for about 10 years, but has really come to the forefront over the last couple of years. There seems to be a lot more control over things.
M S: And the ability to change colors via DMX rather than having the old par cans that you had to layer; different colors of the color sheet to get a color that you’re looking for and then basically being stuck with that color. I mean, there’s so much more flexibility with the LED lights and the DMX control that’s it’s just fantastic, I think.
R B: How many colors are in the average LED fixture nowadays?
M S: Well, now you can go through an RGBAW fixture that actually has all five colors that can be mixed and you can literally mix any color that you want.
R B: You’re mixing almost as heavy duty as what the guys at Home Depot can do with paint.
M S: Absolutely.
R B: You picked your first lighting line with the guys at Blizzard, just north of you in Waukesha. Tell us about your connection with Blizzard.
M S: Actually I ran across Will Komassa, who started Blizzard probably in 2010, maybe late 2009, when he was just starting the company and actually trying to sell on the Internet, and just happened upon him when I was looking for some LED strip lights.
And talked with him and found out that he was also a musician and sang in a band and played in a band, and so we struck up a friendship just from being mutually musicians, and I bought a couple of lights that I still use to this day from him.
And as time went on and I was looking more at moving out on my own and starting my own business, it seemed to me like he and I were thinking the same way. Will was looking to be innovative with the product and come up with usable products that were also at a fairly reasonable price…for the working DJ and the working bands that are looking to get into LED lighting, but they have a budget they have to work with.
So it just kind of felt good to start with these guys. They just fit into what I was looking for, basically.
R B: What Blizzard products do you carry?
M S: As far as the products we’re carrying, our goal is to stock everything that Blizzard markets. One of my pet peeves in my sales career was that it always seemed we didn’t have inventory of something that a customer wanted and needed. So my theory for our business is to make sure to stock some level of inventory for everything that Blizzard has.
Maybe the only thing we’re not doing is some of the strip lighting that they’ve gotten into and things like that. But all their basic Puck fixtures, all their pro pars and rock lights, par cans, all the moving heads, we are keeping an inventory of so that when a customer places an order, depending on the time of day it’ll either ship that day or the next day.
At our site they’ll also find basic information about all the products. They’ll find all the warranty information; all of the owner’s manuals are listed; all of the videos if there are any are listed. So they can really access everything available for the lights and everything else right there at the website.
R B: Fantastic. That web address, by the way, is InnovativeLEDSales.com. Cool looking website; you’ve obviously got some good graphics people working for you…
Where do you see things going? You are clearly on your way to being the biggest Blizzard Lighting sales company out there. Do you see yourself getting into other products?
M S: Down the road I see us getting into other products, but right now my main focus is to grow the business enough to be able to move away from a regular day job into this business by itself. And I think initially it’ll be by sticking with just Blizzard Products and trying to be the go-to guy for their products…so that whatever customers want and need, they can them as soon as possible. That’s my theory at this point.
And in the future as things progress, then I’ll look at how things progress, then I’ll look at bringing in other product lines on an as-needed basis.
R B: Is there anything else that you want readers to know about your company or yourself?
M S: Well, like I said, I’m trying to have inventory on hand. I know how it is when somebody has a big job coming up and they need something—and the frustration level when they can’t get the product in time, whether it’s for a big job or there’s a possibility of a big job may be lost because they can’t get product…or extra product needs arise for a large gig that comes up suddenly or something like that.
And basically, I understand the sales end of it. I understand people need the product as soon as they can get it. And from our perspective, that’s one of the main things of our company. And to be reasonably priced; also to work with customers within their budgets.
R B: What’s that web address one more time?
M S: Yeah. It’s InnovativeLEDSales.com. And there’s a toll-free number, too, that you can reach us at. It’s (855) 303- 8100.
Filed Under: Issue #152, Profiles
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