DEKOR CEO Duane McCall: How an Illuminated Perspective Drives Personal and Professional Achievement
For Duane McCall, CEO of DEKOR, “lighting for life” isn’t just another tagline – it’s a reflection of what his company stands for. Since 2001, Mr. McCall has guided and grown DEKOR from a premium deck railing and baluster manufacturer to leading designer and innovator of LED lighting products. Along the way, DEKOR’s core company principles and competencies (Innovation, Commitment, Value, Quality, Integrity, Reliability and Industry-Leading Warranties) have helped the Denver-based company expand its product offerings to continuously meet and exceed customer expectations. And unlike many home improvement and lighting outfits, DEKOR has done it all without the benefits of “big box store” distribution. From deck lighting to under-cabinet illumination to landscape fixtures, the results speak for themselves: an original collection of durable and long-lasting LED lighting products and a highly satisfied customer base that would recommend DEKOR to anyone.
Innovative Company recently spoke with Mr. McCall about personal inspiration, future business prospects, advice for entrepreneurs, the advantages of working in a specialized industry and much more. Here are some highlights:
1. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration comes from above. Like our mission statement says, “Innovate, build the best, and leave the rest to God.” As a man of faith I draw my daily inspiration from the words in the Bible. I’m inspired every day with a new revelation or reading a favorite passage that help me face the day. I try my best to build trust in our products by using the principles I’ve learned about honesty, integrity, and value.
2. What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur?
Be prepared to work hard, work harder and then work some more. As an entrepreneur you have to be committed to your work. It has to be a part of you. It has to be something you love to do because it will consume almost all of your time and energy. You have to be devoted to what it is you are doing and give it everything you’ve got to make it succeed. Find your passion and then go for it. I tell people entrepreneur rhymes with manure, which you should be well prepared to accept and deal with. But if you love your work, it’s easier to deal with the setbacks involved with building a business. I’m fortunate enough to love my work; every day is both a challenge and an opportunity, and I feel blessed to be where I’m at. But I never would’ve arrived here if I didn’t have a passion for my company and wasn’t prepared to work hard.
3. Where do you see your business in 10 years?
In 10 years I see DEKOR as a major brand and quality leader in the LED lighting marketplace. We are constantly improving our current products and designing new product for the future. I see us taking LED lighting in new directions with new and better applications for indoor and outdoor lighting for residential and business customers. Lighting controllers and sensors are also a growth area where we are currently taking leadership in our vertical and believe to have great potential for the future.
Our story is one of constant innovation, quality improvement, and listening to our customers. Our goal is world class quality: products that exceed industry standards for reliability and performance and exceed customer expectations. In order to accomplish this, we will continue to invest heavily in high precision manufacturing equipment, state-of-the-art testing equipment, and safety certifications and approvals for all our products. We’ll also continue bringing all our manufacturing operations back home so we can have more control.
Forward-thinking technology partnerships keep us moving ahead as innovators. We were an early adopter of LEDs; then became an EnergyStar Partner for efficiency; a CREE LED Branding Partner because of their light quality and reliability; and our latest partnership is with Texas Instruments for networking and controls has allowed us to bring DEKOR products to the world of Wi-Fi and smart automation. We fully expect to partner with other innovative companies in the future as we adapt and grow within a fast-changing and highly competitive industry, and I’m excited to see where we’ll be. The industry is quite different from where it was in 2001 and we look forward to offering more products that adapt with a person’s lifestyle and are more energy efficient in the years to come.
4. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Word of mouth has been our most successful form of marketing. Customer love our products and they tell their friends, who tell their friends and so on. Since we’re not in the big box stores, we rely on word of mouth marketing much more than other lighting companies. But that’s not the only avenue available for spreading the word. We of course use traditional marketing strategies like magazine advertising, tradeshows and social media. We utilize the internet with search engine optimization and public relations to help spread the word about our brand and our products.
5. What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
We have been fortunate not to have very many failures but with all new enterprises there are always a few duds along the way. I learned the hard way that growing slowly is not a curse but a blessing. At one time I borrowed more money than I should have to grow the business quickly or so I thought. Problem with borrowing money they want you to pay it back. So after some extremely difficult times I came to realize that going debt free and pay as you go was the way to operate the company. Regardless of your mistakes, passion and hard work will overcome all obstacles. You’ll make mistakes – that’s a given. But how will you and your company respond? That’s not a given, and how you answer that question will ultimately determine how successful you are.
6. What would you consider the best part of your industry?
The best part of our industry has to be the innovation. Bringing new, better, more efficient and green lighting products to the market that address that magical customer question, “I wish your light could do this….”. As part of this ever expanding industry I feel we have to do a better job at making lighting products that last as long as the technology we’re putting into them. Why have an LED that lasts over 50,000 hours when the unit that contains it is made from inferior quality materials? As an industry we need to build products that will last, products that offer value and products that help improve the quality of life for our customers. We also need to make sure that as an industry we are responsible to not only our customers but to our planet. We need to constantly find better and more efficient ways to build our products in America and help keep out planet clean and safe for future generations.
Well said, Mr. McCall! DEKOR has put their illuminated accent on literally thousands of homes and businesses across the country. We hope these responses from Mr. McCall will inspire greater things for you and your business! To learn more about DEKOR, please visit their website, or call 1-800-258-0344. Thanks for reading our blog, and check back for more discussions with America’s best business leaders.