Sponsored By DTE Energy

For a self-professed gearhead like Chris Braden, owner of Munk’s Motors in Waterford, Michigan, watching tires spin and the tachometer needle climb to the redline is fun. Watching the electric meter dial spin at his place of business and electric bills climb, not fun. So, when Gary Hamlet of the Hamlet Lighting Group, a DTE Energy Designated Trade Ally, proposed new lighting that would reduce energy costs while improving business operations, Mr. Braden agreed.

“I’ve known Chris for a few years. When I first visited Munk’s Motors, there were a lot of dark areas, mostly due to out-of-date equipment,” Mr. Hamlet said.

That may not have been the ideal environment for customers who planned to entrust their fine precision-engineered machine to Munk’s for repairs or upgrades. (Munk’s Motors specializes in German automobiles, though they work on nearly all makes.)

“We discussed how Munk’s Motors could save energy and have a better lighting system,” he said. “Chris was immediately receptive and recognized the benefits of a well-lit environment that made a positive impression on customers; enhanced the products displayed in the showroom, while improving the work atmosphere.”

Seeing The Light

“After telling us we should upgrade the lighting system, Gary Hamlet brought in samples for us to review,” said Mr. Braden. “He set one up and asked me to compare it to the existing system.” The difference was literally night and day.”

In addition to making Munk’s Motors a more welcoming place for customers and a better working environment for technicians, the new lighting system significantly improved Mr. Braden’s bottom line by using less energy.

“With the 30 or so metal halide lights we were using, you could watch the meter dial spin. Even the light switches were warm from the energy going through them,” Mr. Braden said.

Like any intelligent business owner, Mr. Braden decided to upgrade his lighting system in stages, beginning with the showroom.

“As part of the facility, he has a showroom with wheels and other automotive memorabilia and accessories at the entrance,” said Mr. Hamlet. “When we talked about the program and how much better things would look, he was skeptical at first, especially when I told him it would be twice as bright, but use less energy.”

Mr. Hamlet replaced all the T12 light fixtures in the showroom (approximately 20) with much more effective and energy-efficient T5 fixtures. Mr. Braden was so impressed with the result that he decided to update the lighting throughout the rest of the shop.

“The modern lighting comes on instantly and the coverage is much broader than the previous lights, which cast shadows,” said Mr. Braden.

“Our techs love the new lighting because it illuminates their working area much better. It has created one issue: We have to keep the show much cleaner since the new lighting shows any speck of dirt.”

Better Lighting, Less Money

Illumination is important for any business and reduced energy cost is a huge bonus.

“The new lighting system saves energy and money,” said Mr. Braden. “Our shop is open 20 hours longer per week since the lights were installed, yet our bill has not increased as much.”

The Hamlet Lighting Group replaced 34 400-watt T12 lights in the shop area with 24 four-lamp T5 fixtures. The color temperature of the new T5 lights is more natural, improving illumination.

Hamlet also replaced the outdated outdoor metal halide fixtures with new LED lights, which are more energy efficient and are infinitely more reliable.

“The LED lights are less expensive to run and last longer than metal halide bulbs,” said Mr. Braden, “so there are savigns in replacement costs as well. And they don’t require 15 minutes to warm up like metal halide bulbs do.”

Easy Cash Back

A DTE Energy incentive of approximately $3,000 helped further reduce the cost of the lighting upgrade.

“Gary coordinated the whole thing,” Mr. Braden said. “He took care of everything, including permits and applying for incentives. When you deal with someone who really cares about his customers as much as Gary does, it shows.”

“That’s the way we do business. We take care of the paperwork; it’s what we do for all of our customers,” Mr. Hamlet explained. “All they have to do is give us a couple of signatures, relax and enjoy their new lighting.”

The DTE Energy website is full of information on incentives and additional cash back for buying Michigan-made products. Visit dteenergy.com/savenow. You can also locate a contractor and find out how to become a DTE Energy Designated Trade Ally.

An ally is exactly what Gary Hamlet was to Chris Braden. They worked together to make Munk’s Motors brighter and more energy efficient. Partner with your contractor to achieve similar results for your business: reduced energy.


This article was originally published in DTE Energy’s magazine EnergySmarts.
For more tips and inspiration for small business owners, visit Small Business Pulse Detroit.


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