Overland Park couple create decorative lights for customers to show off their college spirit

06/24/2014 1:08 PM

06/24/2014 1:08 PM

Janie and Dallas Hainline of Overland Park consider themselves creative types. So when Janie retired from teaching music and Dallas was laid off from his job, they put their heads together to forming their company Logo Lighthouse.

Using acrylic that’s cut to 3/16-inch thickness, the Hainlines work with a laser to etch designs on the material, add LED lights so it is edge lit creating a three-dimensional logo light.

“We saw a light in Applebee’s that looked this way and it sparked our idea,” Janie Hainline said. “They’re like an Exit sign,” Janie Hainline said.

The Hainlines first tried to find someone who could make the lights for them. Dallas Hainline said it was so expensive to outsource production that they decided to buy a laser and make the lights themselves. With a little bit of research, the couple purchased a $10,000 laser machine from an American company out of Colorado.

“Not only were they American made; we could get parts and get help easily,” Dallas Hainline said.

Once connected to a computer, the laser etches designs onto acrylic as large as 12 by 18 inches.

“Neither of us was computer savvy, but reps from the company came over and gave us a tutorial,” he said.

The Hainlines decided to set up shop in the basement of their home rather than incurring the costs of a retail location. They sell the lights through the company’s website as well as a few area stores including Sportswear Etc. in Overland Park and Olathe Glass.

Janie Hainline creates the designs using the Corel Draw software program and sends them on to the laser, which engraves the images as well as edges the acrylic. Dallas Hainline assembles the pieces and adds the LED, finishing the product.

“It took a long time to decide what we were going to put them in, how to light them and make them look good — not as if they’re made in someone’s basement, but they are,” he said.

Q: Where do you buy the acrylic?

“That’s been a constant evolution,” Dallas Hainline said. “We’ve had a little trouble getting lighting.”

The couple uses a few domestic vendors for the acrylic, buying it in 4- by 8-foot sheets that are cut down to fit in the laser. Some of the lighting components come from China.

The logo lights come in four sizes, ranging from 3- by 5-inch mini lights with one color priced at $20 to the man cave light, which is a 12- by 12-inch, two-color light priced at $60. Personalization of the lights is extra.

“We do a lot of personalization, and Janie has to clean up a lot in Corel,” said Dallas Hainline, explaining the extra charge. “It takes a lot of time.”

Logo Lighthouse has licensing rights to use logos from the Universities of Kansas and Missouri and Kansas State University. The Hainlines hope to expand the list soon.

Q: How do you market your product?

“Going to shows has been the best way to sell them so far,” Janie Hainline said. “When we go to these shows it catches on. We often have other vendors looking over our shoulders saying, ‘Can you make one for me?’” she said. “Shows have been very profitable.… The possibilities are endless.”

The Hainlines have some shows coming up in the fall including Holiday Boutique, so they are working hard to build up their inventory for the seasonal rush.

Q: What’s been your greatest challenge with the business?

“For us, marketing is the hardest part,” Dallas Hainline said. “Part of it is we don’t have the time, and I’m not much on beating on doors.”

Said Janie Hainline: “One of the things that’s difficult for us is it’s just Dallas and I, and we do everything. It’s hard for us to do it all.”

Q: What does the future hold for Logo Lighthouse?

The Hainlines want to expand their line of lights. They have talked about creating home address signs that are illuminated, making them easier to read at night. There are other ideas, too.

“What we’d like to do is work on licensing, go all over the United States and get in stores and have a sales rep,” Janie Hainline said.

“We’re pretty maxed out right now with just the two of us,” Dallas Hainline said.

Though being a two-person business is time consuming, the Hainlines enjoy working together out of their home creating the logo lights.

“That’s one of the wonderful things about it,” Janie Hainline said. “We work on our schedule.… I love the designing on the computer. It’s a challenge, but it’s fun. I love seeing the finished product.”

IN A NUTSHELL

COMPANY: Logo Lighthouse

TELEPHONE: 913-681-2906

WEB SITE: logo-lighthouse.homestead.com

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