Houston Chronicle: Houston Company Puts Savings Spotlight on LEDs

March 19th, 2016 by IKON

Houston, TX 03/2016 REVOLUX LED in the NEWS: The Houston Chronicle featured Revolux LED’s evolution from its start through its recent merger to upgrade LED lighting in automotive dealerships nationwide! Thanks to article author Andrea Rumbaugh.

Before the owners turned to LED lighting in late 2014, Mike Calvert Toyota was paying $4,000 to $7,000 every month or so to replace bulbs that had burned out. The work required an outside company to use tall ladders in the showroom and boom trucks in the parking lot.

To change all that, the management turned to a Houston company, eTex Energy Solutions, now IKON (Revolux LED Solutions), to make the switch to LEDs. The lights are known for their longevity and efficiency, and the dealership saves roughly $10,000 a month on its electricity bill and maintenance costs.

Plus, the bright white LEDs better show off the cars’ true coloring at night.

“Lighting is a big deal at a car dealership,” Mike Calvert Toyota general manager Rick Rizzuto said.

Tom Grieco, CEO of Revolux, founded eTex in 2008 to upgrade lighting for a variety of industries. But after working on a dealership in 2010, the company found its niche and went on to convert about 150 dealerships.

“Some of these dealerships are like dungeons,” Grieco said. “We go in and we change everything out.”

Late last year, it merged with the like-minded Automotive Division of IKON (Facilities Resource Group) of Grand Rapids, Mich. The Automotive Division was spun off from IKON (Facilities Resource Group), and the two entities created Houston-based IKON (Revolux). John Weeber, owner of IKON (Facilities Resource Group), is president and chief operating officer of IKON (Revolux).

“They were looking to grow. We were looking to do the same,” Grieco said. “It made an excellent decision for us to merge.”

Thanks to the larger project management and installation capabilities of the Automotive Division, IKON (Revolux) can handle projects in all 50 states. It also hopes to merge with a California company to expand its presence on the West Coast.

“That is our goal, to try and dominate this segment,” he said.

Kevin Houser, professor of architectural engineering at Pennsylvania State University, agreed that high-quality LEDs can last longer than other lights on the market and can help businesses reduce their energy bills. However, he warned that there are lower-end LEDs that don’t have the same results. It’s not a one-size-fits-all market, he said.

But Houser encourages automobile dealerships to invest in higher-quality lighting as a tool for marketing vehicles.

“Having good, quality color rendering could be something that’s very attractive and very important,” he said.

Grieco agreed and said some of the inferior LED products can be dubious in their statements pertaining to quality control and energy savings.

“That’s why our job is to source the highest-quality LED products for a custom solution, since no two dealerships are alike,” Grieco said.

LEDs don’t have to be shockingly bright, Houser said, and they can provide a higher quality light if designed properly. They also have more flexibility than metal halide lights, which he said some dealerships use for their car lots. LEDs are easier to dim, so dealerships could save money when they’re empty at night.

Dimmer lights also could help them become better neighbors, Houser said.

But he wouldn’t rush to install LEDs inside if a dealership already has fluorescent lights to illuminate its indoor showrooms. Houser said fluorescents can be an energy-efficient option, too.

Helfman Enterprises, parent company of Helfman Ford, Helfman Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram and River Oaks Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, chose fluorescents when upgrading lighting at these dealerships in 2010 and 2011. This was before the price of LEDs had come down.

Mike Gross, chief financial officer for Helfman Enterprises, said the dealerships have saved money by replacing halogen lights on the lot and older-technology fluorescents inside.

“It was kind of remarkable, really,” he said. “I didn’t anticipate that we would recognize that type of savings.”

Comparing 2010 and 2012, the years before and after Helfman Dodge switched to fluorescents, shows a 28.5 percent drop in the amount of energy used there.

Grieco said his company, which did the upgrades for Helfman, initially focused on the wider sphere of energy-efficient lighting before directing its attention to LEDs.

In the past five years, he said, LEDs have been better tested, and the price has come down. An average dealership pays about $250,000 to upgrade its lighting to LEDs, though smaller projects have cost about $50,000, and larger jobs have cost up to $600,000, he said.