Fastest Growing Companies: Lightenco shines through

Lightenco
From left, Ray del Cojo, Steve Hubbard and Eduardo Vargas of Lightenco. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

Each year, OBJ recognizes the region’s rapidly growing firms with its Fastest Growing Companies awards. The aim is to honour the city’s top performers for substantial, sustainable and profitable growth. Recipients are ranked by their three-year revenue growth. They must have had revenues of at least $100,000 in the first of those three years under consideration. Revenues must have risen to at least $500,000 in their most recent fiscal year. The companies will be profiled online in the coming days and recognized at a cocktail reception on May 24 at You.i TV headquarters in Kanata. Click here for more information on the event.

The founders of Lightenco don’t want any of the credit for the company’s growth. That goes to their spouses, says Ray del Cojo.

“Seriously, the ones that get the credit for all of what’s happening is our wives. They really take the hit,” the Ottawa-based firm’s CEO says. “They really are the reason why this is happening.”

And since the company, which outfits buildings with LED lighting, officially launched in 2012, a lot has been happening indeed.

There’s physical proof of that growth: Del Cojo has a picture of his e-bike in Montreal, with the company’s very first box of lights strapped on the back. Now, says co-founder Steve Hubbard, there are hundreds of bigger boxes in their new Ottawa office — physical evidence of the space between that first sale and the company as it exists today.

For Hubbard, Lightenco’s growth is based on the simple idea that it provides a win-win-win service: It’s a win for the clients, who stand to save money by outfitting their buildings with state-of-the-art LED lighting; it’s a win for Lightenco, which boasts a growing list of large national clients; and it’s a win for the environment, since LED lights are so much more efficient than traditional fluorescent lights.

“The main idea that motivated all of this was to save energy. A lot of people confuse us, (thinking) we are just the lighting guys,” says del Cojo.

Lighting, however, is just the specific expression of their larger, more ambitious goal of changing how people think about energy usage.

“We’re always thinking how we can reduce the energy footprint,” he explains. “That’s the main motivation.”

Ottawa's Fastest Growing Companies: Lightenco

Year founded: 2011
Local headcount: 16
Product or service: Turnkey LED lighting services
Three-year revenue growth: 223%
2018 ranking: #10

The past year has seen a lot of growth, says Hubbard, as the company keeps landing larger clients. “The size of the projects has gone up tenfold, if not more,” he says.

Hubbard is a jump-in-feet-first kind of guy.

“I’m the kind of person who, if I feel that a lead is kind of warm, I just go for it,” he says. “The problem is we have to learn what happens when we have to implement the project.”

Often, Lightenco is not only responsible for the installation of the lighting, but also gets involved at the design phase as well.

“We don’t sell a widget. We tailor projects,” says del Cojo. “Every project is a different beast than the previous one. It’s really challenging. We go through surprises while on site, (and) we need to think really creatively — in a good way — where we can absorb the cost as much as we can without needing to pass it on to the customers.”

 

“There’s been a lot of sacrifices – tears and sweat – in order to get this done."

Lightenco has landed some big-name clients over the past couple years – Marriott and the University of Ottawa among them – which is helping the firm expand outside of the Montreal-Ottawa corridor. Del Cojo says that at one point recently, the company had eight projects on the go in five different cities across the country.

“There’s been a lot of sacrifices – tears and sweat – in order to get this done,” he adds.

Hubbard agrees, adding he and his partners have no plans of letting up.

“I always go for it, go for it, go for it,” he says, laughing. “I’d rather burn myself for five years, and get to retire pretty early.”