Larry Lieberman spent many years as a professional working with theatrical lighting. Naturally, he became an expert in the industry, giving him the confidence to start his own lighting business. As custom lighting designers, the company would go directly to various clients in need of their services. Every job was specialized, depending on the customer’s vision; each finished job would have a different outcome than the last. Perhaps it could be a clothing store that wants a calm dim lighting style that still allows people to see the products or a haunted mansion that requires an eery lighting style hardly allowing people to see at all. They create ambiance and encourage a different kind of experience when walking through each of their customer’s doors. Mostly, it’s a manufacturing business.
Despite the initial success, in 1996, things were getting rough, and they were going to need some outside influence if there was any chance for survival. Larry hoped that with some council and investment from Marcus Lemonis, he might be able to turn things around.
Vision Quest on The Profit
The Profit Season 3 Episode 17
The episode starts with Marcus visiting the Vision Quest headquarters near Long Island, NY. Larry is ecstatic to meet Marcus, and the two seem to enjoy each other’s company immediately. You get an idea that this could be a good partnership very early on.
Larry explains that he has excellent designs, and Marcus can see that it is true. There are plenty of people who want what Larry has to offer, but the company isn’t making enough profit. The two of them toured the facility. It becomes clear to Marcus that in recent months the company has become smaller. Employees had been dismissed, trying to save Vision Quest of any more economic trouble, and the place felt emptier than it should. The facility is not in the best shape, especially the inventory section. At this point, Marcus starts to think that the honeymoon is over, and the real work must begin.
Marcus, as he usually does, sits down to speak with some of the employees to get a better idea of the day-to-day operations at the facility. What he finds, unfortunately, is that as the company has fallen on hard times, Larry has turned to micromanage his staff. It seems to be a common theme among the employees that they are not fans of this new approach. Marcus finds out that some of the contracts Larry’s business has, such as a contract with Hollister, isn’t generating nearly as much money for the company as it once had.
At this point, Marcus and Larry have a private sit-down where Larry reveals the full extent of the issue and why he reached out to Marcus in the first place. He has taken money from family savings and put them toward the business, from college funds to mortgages risking his livelihood. Marcus speaks to the whole family about this; Larry’s wife is surprised to learn about some of this information. The money situation is putting stress on the entire family, especially Larry’s relationship with his wife.
After looking at the financial info, Marcus discovers the extent to which things don’t look great. Most of the value of the company is tied up in inventory, and it is worth much less than purported. Meaning that the company is operating at a pretty significant deficit, considering the $1.5 million in liabilities.
At this point in the show, Marcus pitches his deal. He is offering Larry a $375k investment. It will be used to hire new staff as well as assisting in overcoming the deficit. In return for this investment, Marcus is asking for 50% of the company. Larry is happy to take the deal; he views a partnership with Marcus as being extremely valuable.
Marcus gathers the employees together to notify them of the changes and tries to galvanize the troops and energize them. They are mostly underwhelmed, and Marcus discovers that Larry has let the employees down before and so they are going to want to see results before they get excited. Marcus tells Larry the first hard truth of the episode: a lot of the inventory needs to be scrapped. Larry is hesitant to part with some of his products but knows it’s for the best.
At this point in the episode, Larry and Marcus head over to Gotham Lighting looking to set up a contract that can benefit both businesses. Since Gotham is mostly in distribution and Vision Quest is mostly manufacturing, the two companies complement one another nicely. The meeting could not be any better; the Gotham Lighting representative claims that he can increase Vision Quest’s business by 100%.
Marcus inspects the factory and finds that the equipment is lackluster. If they want this partnership with Gotham to work, they are going to need to upgrade everything. Going over the numbers, Larry realizes how expensive this is going to be, but the investment will pay for itself since it will improve the company dramatically. Some issues come up with Gotham; there were problems in the provided equipment. It doesn’t ruin the relationship and encourages more attention to detail.
The episode ends with a challenge from Marcus, and it involves a former company featured on the show: Sweet Pete’s. The location needs lights installed for their grand opening in two weeks. Larry knows he can do it but is worried about the deadline. It goes down to the wire, but at the last minute, Larry completes the project and does an excellent job. Marcus is very pleased with all of Larry’s improvements, and the company appears to be headed in the right direction.
Life After The Profit
Early in 2018, Vision Quest was acquired by a much larger lighting company, Royal Contract Lighting. Larry said that he made a move to improve Vision Quest as a company; it seems to have been the right move. They complete projects more quickly and at a better cost with the backing of a big enterprise behind them. There is also more security for the company with a partner like Royal Contract Lighting.
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