In The Lite Electric celebrates 20th Anniversary with 20 acts of kindness
TINA L. SCOTT
In The Lite Electric, located north of Merrill on Hwy. K, began as a one-man shop 20 years ago. Today the business employs nine staff and specializes in residential and commercial electrical contracting projects, standby generators, and smart home systems including installation, maintenance, and repair.
Aug. 1, 2021, will mark the 20th anniversary of the business, and Dan and Bonnie Langhoff, owners of In The Lite Electric, have launched a “20 years of making your day brighter” campaign where they will carry out 20 acts of kindness throughout the year to celebrate. These 20 acts of kindness will take many forms, including monetary and charitable donations, sponsorships, volunteering, and random acts of kindness, they said.
“We wanted to do something extra special to celebrate, and what better way to pay it forward than by giving back to the community that we have been privileged to be a part of these past 20 years,” said Dan Langhoff.
“We have always asked ‘How we can make your day brighter?’” said Bonnie Langhoff, “And this year we hope to continue to do that throughout the community.”
The first few acts of kindness have been set and include pledging to do the lighting for the T.B. Scott tower project and donations to the Lincoln and Marathon County Humane Societies. Several other acts of kindness are currently in the works.
In The Lite Electric will be sharing their journey all year long on Facebook and their website, so you can see what people and organizations they give back to. If you have any suggestions of organizations or people they should consider, they are also open to hearing them. Drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan was born and raised in Merrill, and Bonnie was born and raised in Wausau. They lived in Milwaukee for a time, but when it came time to raise a family, they returned to the area to be closer to family, and Dan started an electrical apprenticeship in 1989.
“After completing my electrical apprenticeship, I worked for an electrical contractor for 10 years,” Dan said. “I then went to an electrical engineering firm for four years, where I designed electrical, fiber optic, and copper data and phone infrastructures. I eventually found that I missed the interaction with people and the hands-on work that I had done for so many years. So, I started doing small projects for friends and friends of friends, which led to more and more opportunities, which has led us to where we are now.”
In The Lite begins and grows
Years prior, Bonnie recalled, Dan had a moment of inspiration. You could even say it was a “light bulb moment.”
“One day he walked out of his office,” Bonnie remembered, “And he said, ‘If we ever have an electrical business, we will call it In The Lite.’ So I guess it all started with the name.”
On Aug. 1, 2001, that dream became a reality when they opened their own business.
“Dan had the electrical background, and I had the bookkeeping background,” Bonnie said. Together, they made a good team. “Dan also went on to get his Journeyman and then his Master Electrician’s license,” Bonnie added.
Dan said one of the highlights of In The Lite, for him, was watching the business grow. And one milestone, in particular, was important to him. “When we grew to the point of being able to bring on employees,” he said, that was a huge highlight. “It started out as just me and grew to one employee and then two and now we have nine!”
“The fact that the business has grown to a place where it can support nine families,” Dan said. “That is a real highlight for me.”
“Each employee brings something unique to the table,” he said. “Whether that be in skill, experience, or personality, and we all work together really well. I truly believe that a huge reason we have been able to grow this business over the last 20 years is because of our employees. Our customers give us such great compliments on them!”
Bonnie agrees. “I believe we have the most amazing staff around!” she said. “We operate more like a family than a business. There are a total of nine of us, and we have really strived to cultivate a culture where everyone is valued and heard. One of the things I love doing is planning the employee Christmas parties and team building days where we can get together outside of a typical work day.”
When asked about highlights, “There have been so many,” Bonnie said, “But a big highlight was when we built our [new] office. Before our office was finished in January 2016, we were working out of a tiny office in our home. I helped design our office space, and to see it all come together was amazing. We wanted the office to feel warm and inviting and be a fun place for the office staff to come to work. That was a very proud moment for me!”
The new building was started in the fall of 2015 and opened the following January and showcases all types of lighting installed so their clients can imagine it in their own homes. Sasha Everett, Communication Director at In The Lite, said after clients see it in person, they tend to know right away what they want. “So we have recessed lighting, pendants, chandeliers, under cabinet lighting, colored LED ribbon lighting, multiple sizes of mini disk lighting (for accent lighting), art spotlights, and a mixture of different colored lights (i.e. whiter bulbs to more yellow bulbs),” Everett said. And it is all showcased in their new office building.
Challenges in 2020
The business has also had some low points, however, and the biggest of those came in late winter 2020.
“When COVID hit last year,” Dan said. “We were unsure if we would be able to remain open and operational, since our business involves going into people’s homes.”
“I was especially concerned about having to lay people off, which is something we have never done,” he said. “When all the shut downs first hit, the phones have never been so quiet. But then we were deemed an essential business and allowed to stay open, so we went about implementing safety procedures. We also started a Help page on our website where we posted videos with answers to electrical questions to assist people who were unable to bring in outside help. Overall, we adapted as much as we could, but in the end, our job can’t be done virtually.”
Bonnie agreed that was a rough patch. “As a business owner, you are always thinking about the future,” she said. “But COVID was something that no one could prepare for, and as a business, it brought about a whole new level of uncertainty. Our main focus was on keeping our clients and employees safe, but as I mentioned, we are more like a family, so another concern was about having to lay people off.”
“Each day seemed to bring about a new challenge,” Bonnie said. “But looking back one year later, it also caused us to learn a lot, adapt, and even grow.”
“I am so happy to say that one year later, not only did we keep everyone employed, but we actually added employees,” Dan said. “We are very grateful to the community for trusting us through this time!”
Now the Langhoffs are looking forward to a bright future.
“One big thing for the next few years, is we are expanding our In The Lite Smart Home division,” Dan said. “We have always aimed to stay up to date with the latest in electrical, lighting, and design, and that also includes smart products. There is a great demand for smart home products, including smart lighting, and we offer this in addition to our regular electrical services, so we can meet all our clients’ needs. A lot of people think smart home products are only for new construction homes and the younger generation. This is simply not the case. We want to be able to make this technology accessible for everyone.”
“We want to set In The Lite up for growth and expansion, so that in 20 more years we can look back and see how this was really just the beginning,” Bonnie said. “Currently, we are really excited about our 20 acts of kindness this year! We are only a few months in, but we have already met some wonderful people and learned about so many great organizations in the community. Merrill truly has a lot of wonderful things to offer, and we are so glad to be making a difference in the community and surrounding areas!”