ORACLE Lighting listed on the Inc.500/5000 list for the 7th year consecutively.
Inc. Magazine Unveils 35th Annual List of "America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies”The Inc.500/5000 List.
NEW YORK, August 17, 2016 – Inc. magazine today ranked AAC Enterprises LLC; DBA: ORACLE Lighting for the 7th consecutive time on its 35th annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. the list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment— its independent small businesses. Companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 5000.
"We are very pleased to once again be recognized on this prestigious list for 2016” says Oracle Lighting Founder Justin Hartenstein. "Being recognized for growth is great but many companies often grown to failure. The consistency of steady growth for now 7 years is what I am most proud of. We could not continue this growth without our amazing team here at Oracle Lighting that has been able to adapt and scale as our operation continues to grow, expand, and diversify.”
The 2016 Inc. 5000, unveiled online at Inc.com and with the top 500 companies featured in the September issue of Inc. (available on newsstands August 23) is the most competitive crop in the list’s history. The average company on the list achieved a mind-boggling three-year growth of 433%. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue is $200 billion, and the companies on the list collectively generated 640,000 jobs over the past three years, or about 8% of all jobs created in the entire economy during that period. Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.
"The Inc. 5000 list stands out where it really counts,” says Inc. President and Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg. "It honors real achievement by a founder or a team of them. No one makes the Inc. 5000 without building something great.– usually from scratch. That’s one of the hardest things to do in business, as every company founder knows. But without it, free enterprise fails.”
The annual Inc. 5000 event honoring all the companies on the list will be held from October 18 through 20, in San Antonio, TX. Speakers include some of the greatest entrepreneurs of this and past generations, such as best-selling author and strategist Tony Robbins, SoulCycle co-founders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, Cornerstone OnDemand founder, president and CEO Adam Miller, Marvell Technology Group director and co-founder Weili Dai, and New Belgium Brewing co-founder and executive chair Kim Jordan.
Oracle Lighting’s Justin Hartenstein on turning a hobby in his garage into a successful business
New Orleans native Justin Hartenstein turned a passion for automobiles and electronics into Oracle Lighting, a Metairie-based company that designs, manufactures and distributes solid-state LED lighting products.
Automotive products have been the core of the business that Hartenstein began in his garage 15 years ago. The challenges that entrepreneurs face caused him to reconsider running his own company, but he overcame them and now employs 30 full-time employees and sees annual revenue of over $7 million.
What type of business is Oracle Lighting?
We began primarily with automotive aftermarket accessories and a very small niche market and expanded into broader markets such as marine LED lighting applications and energy efficient lighting solutions for commercial and residential lighting projects. We can work with our clients to develop customized lighting solutions for large projects or offer existing products for standard retrofits and LED conversions. LED lighting is constantly evolving, and the capabilities of LED chips are improving as the industry becomes more refined. We try to stay on the cutting edge of new technology and improve our product line as technology develops that allows our offerings to become more efficient or effective.
In terms of company culture, I think most people who visit our Metairie headquarters would say there is a tech startup feel. We have an open-plan office where teams can freely communicate and share information. We have an amazing staff that consists of mostly young professionals and we promote a convivial working environment.
What was the inspiration for starting your business?
In the beginning, it was more of a hobby than a business for me. I was in school full time, studying engineering, and I also had a full-time job, so I was not looking to start a business. I was in my garage tweaking with parts and building different components that did not exist but that I knew I could make. I had a project car at the time that I wanted to build custom headlights for. At the time, LEDs were not very mainstream, so I actually used a fiber-optic system as a platform to design from. When the car was completed, I was asked by someone if I would sell the lights that I had built. I sold him the lights for enough money that I could build a new set for myself as well as another set to sell. I sold that set and built two more, and so on and so forth. It was a very organic process; I was not out to make money or grow into a business. I just enjoyed the process and liked that others enjoyed what I had created. It was not until 2002 that I realized that there was a possibility to grow out of my garage, and I decided to switch majors to study business at UNO.
The organic growth strategy that I had inadvertently employed worked very well. By not overextending myself for the first few years, the company had very low overhead and was already profitable. This strategy became the cornerstone for our business model and allowed us to grow rapidly and be profitable consistently for 15 years without ever accepting outside capital or giving up equity.
What are some of the challenges that you faced?
In my particular case, there was a real challenge of letting go of the responsibilities that I handled and hiring others to carry out duties within the company. For the first five years, I did everything in the company – I was the designer, the fabricator, the marketing department, the shipping department, the customer service hotline, the accountant. I did it all. Because I had poured so much of my own time and work into the business, I felt like I had to do all of these things myself because I did not trust that anyone could take care of these responsibilities as I did, with an owner’s mentality. As the company grew, it became harder for me to wear all of these different hats and it came to a point where output suffered from me doing too much. I finally decided to hire some help with installations as well as customer service and move from my garage into an actual warehouse office building on Jefferson Highway. The move went well, but unfortunately the people I hired were not dedicated. They did not care about the company the same way I did and actually made my job harder, for the most part. I had to clean house, let go of everyone and start fresh. It was a very challenging time. The effort it takes to train someone in a rather technical product such as ours is exhausting; re-training staff was difficult. I was almost to the point where I wanted to give up and just go back to having a normal job because the headaches of owning my own business had become so immense.
It was frustrating because when I was on my own, I had very few problems. But I did not want to restrict the growth of the business, so I knew that the right thing was to add staff and allow the business to grow. At this time, I decided to have my wife begin working with me as my partner in the business and help manage the problems I was having. It was the best decision that I ever made – she handled interviewing and hiring staff and I was able to concentrate on developing new products. I realized the stress of the business was hurting my own creativity and causing product design to suffer. Today we have an amazing team in place that can handle any situation that arises. The business would not be what it is today without having this team in place. We are like a family.
Some of the best advice that I can give to other entrepreneurs starting off is that you need to surround yourself with the right people. This includes mentors and peers, but most importantly you need to hire the right people. When you are a rapidly growing small business, it is important to search for people who have the ability to scale with the business. As the business grows and develops, the roles of the staff members also grow and develop. People who don’t like change, people who say things like, "That’s not in my job description,” they don’t scale. They do not have the vision to see that as the business grows, they also grow and they become more valuable as they do.
How do you feel about where the local business market is going?
I feel really good about where the local business market is going in Jefferson and Orleans parishes. There are a lot of technology companies coming in town or at least entertaining the idea to move here. What I love even more is seeing the young entrepreneurs that are coming to the area with existing businesses as well as startups. I think it’s great that the tools, such as incubators, are now in place to help develop these new businesses and draw entrepreneurs to the area.
Where do you see your company in the future?
Growth is our goal because growth is good, growth allows us to continue to expand and create jobs in Jefferson Parish. In order to continue to grow, we are extending and diversifying our product line to reach more consumers. Today we have 7,500 products in our line and will have over 10,000 products by the end of 2016. While automotive products have always been the core of our business, we are constantly looking at other markets and industries for opportunities to develop new and innovative products.
Other growth opportunities are available outside of the United States. In 2013, we were named the Louisiana Exporter of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration for our large growth in exports in 2012. We will be going to the Middle East with the U.S. Department of Commerce and our trade organization (SEMA) to promote U.S. manufacturers to buyers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We want to continue to bring capital from outside the U.S. to Jefferson Parish. We are proud to bring in millions of dollars of capital from outside of Louisiana into the state each year. It is something that we strive for.
PASMAG "Tuning 365/2015 Yearbook Limited Edition" - Feature of Aston Martin
SEMA News Magazine - September 2015: 35 Under 35 Features T. Hartenstein
The Shop Magazine's Aug/Sep 2015 Premier Issue Feature on "Light Reading":
Inc. 500/5000 is an exclusive ranking of our nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents the most comprehensive look at the most significant segment of the economy, America’s independent-minded entrepreneurs. The Inc. 500/5000 consists of these just-short-of miraculous companies, the ones that through ingenuity and ambition have increased revenue, hired employees, and grown fast in difficult economic times. ORACLE Lighting is ecstatic to announce that we have made the INC 5000 list for a sixth consecutive year in a row making this our longest running achievement to date. As always, we are committed to exceeding our customers' expectations and staying on the cutting edge of lighting technology. It is quite an honor to be recognized this many times as one of the current fastest growing privately owned companies in America.
"The Ultimate Package" ORACLE Lighting:
ORACLE Lighting is best known for its line of Headlight Halo Kits, these are the vivid illuminated rings that are installed into vehicle headlights and act as a Daytime Running Light. These lights are unique from other similar products because they are bright, eye-catching, and are available in a variety of colors. That is why retailers often have customers walk in their stores and say, "I want to buy the ORACLE Headlight Kit". This kit generally retails for under $200 for most vehicles but there are several opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling to make this transaction more profitable for retailers.
• Look beyond the headlight halos. ORACLE Halos are available for most vehicles with matching fog light halos for under $100 additional cost. This is a small investment to dramatically increase the effect of the lighting and usually an easy add-on. In addition to the Headlights and Fog Lights there are some vehicles that also have Tail Light Halos available from ORACLE, these kits retail in the $200 price range and compliment the front-end lighting very well. With a package of Headlight, Fog Light, and Tail Light Lighting the sale goes from under $200 to over $500.
• Give the end-user more options. Customers rarely want to be tied down on one single color when it comes to lighting. Most of these enthusiasts show their car off at events such as car shows, meets, cruise nights, etc. Because of this the customer may have a hard time choosing a color, if that is the case the retailer can introduce the ORACLE ColorSHIFT® Halos which can change any color that the user wishes. Imagine having the functionality of normal White lighting for regular on-road use, then changing to Red when pulling into a parking lot meet, using Orange for Halloween, changing to Green lights for a St Patrick’s Day parade, or Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. The ORACLE ColorSHIFT® upgrade is an easy up-sell to any customer who wants to have options. The upgrade takes a headlight halo kit from Under $200 for most vehicles to just under $400 for most vehicles.
• Selling compatibility and ease-of use. Sure, you could connect these ORACLE Lighting accessories to a simple toggle switch but why do that when there are so many other options offered by the manufacturer? Plastic toggle switches are bulky and feel cheap, which is why ORACLE offers high quality Stainless Steel flush switches with a LED illuminated ORACLE logo in the center ($19.95). The customer may not want a switch at all, in that case ORACLE offers a wireless remote kit that not only turns the lights On and Off from over 150 ft away but also allows the customer to adjust the brightness, pulse, and strobe the lights wirelessly ($79.95). Anybody with a smartphone would appreciate a controller that allows the user to dynamically control the lights on their car via a Free App. The ORACLE WiFi LED controller does just that, easy to install and setup, this is a favorite of tech-savvy consumers ($199).
• Maximizing Effectiveness. Now that the customer has chosen to add a wireless controller to their vehicle package any other lighting accessories can be tied into this system. For example if the user wants to add LED Footwell Lighting Kit ($39) to the interior of the vehicle that can then be wired to the same controller. The same goes for the Grill Illumination LED Lighting Kit ($39) or Engine Bay Lighting Kit ($69) offered by ORACLE Lighting. These items are relatively small purchases that can be easily applied to an order.
• Product Installation. All of the ORACLE Lighting products mentioned above are designed to be a DIY installation for any end-user but, by offering installation services, the retailer can easily grow their profit margin for the transaction. The process of installation for these products may seem unorthodox and that makes some installers shy away from attempting this type of installation but do not fear. ORACLE Lighting has been disassembling lights for over a decade and has clear instructions and even installations videos to help even the novice installer complete this process successfully. Furthermore, ORACLE offers free technician training at their facility just outside of New Orleans for any dealers that want to learn the craft first hand. ORACLE also offers their very own brand of headlight sealant that is special formulated to prevent any issues with the headlight seal and insures the headlight integrity is even better than factory.
ORACLE Lighting's story featured in Restyling Magazine:
Restyling Magazine spotlighted ORACLE Lighting in their latest issue for an article titled "Decades of Influence" which features several successful automotive company's and details the keys to their longevity. Some of the highlights featured in the article are our company's best moments including being named the 2013 Louisiana Exporter of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the company's most challenging moment: overcoming the crisis of hurricane Katrina and rebuilding from that disaster.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
What is the secret to the company's longevity?
"We feel that our motto, 'Always do right by the customer,' is the reason for the company's longevity. Our staff is made up of automotive enthusiasts who have all had their own projects and experiences dealing with other manufacturers and vendors. We know how we like to be treated and try to apply that notion to our daily activities and dealings with our customers, distributors and end users alike." - Justin Hartenstein, founder and president.
ORACLE Lighting National Sales Manager named to SEMA's 35 Under 35 List:
Jonathan Barber, 25
National Sales Manager
ORACLE Lighting Technology
Jonathan Barber’s skill at managing warehouse-distributor and jobber accounts across the country has helped ORACLE Lighting to more than double its annual revenue since he became the company’s national sales manager, helping ORACLE make four consecutive appearances on the Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing small businesses. Barber was also able to expand ORACLE Lighting’s sales to Dubai and Saudi Arabia after attending the SEMA Middle East Conference, sharply increasing ORACLE’s international sales and leading the U.S. Small Business Administration to name ORACLE Lighting the "2013 Louisiana Exporter of the Year.”
"The biggest challenge I foresee in the near future is staying on top of the curve and being able to produce new products as soon as a new vehicle is released that we know people will modify. The key is to be able to have something in the works before the demand is there,” Barber said. "Every day working in the automotive aftermarket has been a blessing, because I was able to meet a lot of people who taught me about the industry and how to become an influential person.”
In his briefcase: Barber keeps all of his contacts, calendars, product sheets and sales tools stored on his phone. "It also contains social media apps that help bring awareness to a large client base regarding new products, new projects and customer vehicles that we feature,” he said.
ORACLE Lighting makes a Fifth Consecutive Appearance on INC 500:
Inc. 500 is an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy, America’s independent-minded entrepreneurs. The Inc. 500 consists of these just-short-of miraculous companies, the ones that through ingenuity and ambition have increased revenue, hired employees, and grown fast in difficult economic times. ORACLE Lighting is ecstatic to announce that we have made the INC 500 list for a fifth consecutive year in a row. We are committed to exceeding our customers' expectations and staying on the cutting edge of lighting technology. It is quite an honor to be recognized this many times as one of the current fastest growing privately owned companies in America.
Wounded Warrior Project Silverado:
ORACLE Lighting teamed up with a few of the biggest names in automotive customization for a very special cause. We were contacted, by the build team, and were asked if we wanted to contribute, due to the professionalism of our previous SEMA Show designs and of course our diverse product range. ORACLE Lighting proudly accepted the offer. The Wounded Warrior Project organization serves to pay tribute to our country's wounded warriors that helped to protect and serve our country. The theme of the 2014 Chevy Silverado Wounded Warrior Project Truck was the classic "Don't Tread on Me" idea, and the matching ORACLE Lighting helped deliver that idea. ORACLE Lighting donated a diverse selection of LED Lighting Products including, green On/Off Flush Mount Switches, 3W Universal LED Billet Lights, Green LED Flood and Spot Pods, 2014 Green LED Halos, ORACLE White Concept SMD Strip, and plenty of Exterior Flexible LED Strip for the accent lighting; (in green of course.) Check out the full gallery of photos here.
Featured in USA Today Money Section:
IRVINE, Calif. — Like lurking tigers peeking through the darkness, more muscle cars are getting their own sets of piercing eyes. In this case, the halo-like glow emanates from colored LED lights that rim their headlights like irises surrounding black pupils. At a recent Dodge and Chrysler car gathering on an abandoned airstrip here, owners treated these so-called halo lights as automotive must-haves for those who want to turn heads. Every city pretty much has that Friday night spot where everybody goes," says Justin Hartenstein, product development director for Oracle Lighting Technology, one of the manufacturers. Muscle-car drivers "go into the parking lot and flip on the halos," then watch as the crowd gathers. He says Oracle, part of AAC Enterprises of Metarie, La,. Although it carries many kinds of auto lights, halos remain the big sellers. "Halos are what we're known for," he says. Hartenstein says Oracle's kits are designed for do-it-yourselfers and come in single colors or a rainbow of continuously changing colors. While the lights have proved most popular with owners of big, powerful cars with round headlights and sinister-looking front-ends such as Chrysler LX vehicles and the Chevrolet Camaro, his company makes
them for other brands — from the modestly priced Toyota Scion tC coupe to the plush, pricey Bentley Flying Spur... Read Entire Article HERE
ORACLE Lighting of Houston Featured in Texas Finest Magazine
So for those of you who didn't know, Oracle Lighting just opened a store in Houston. They are, and will continue to be the best choice for all of your lighting needs. Whether it is automotive, residential, commercial, or defense, they have you covered. The new store provides consumers with thousands of options of the most innovative LED lighting solutions. The showroom floor displays a good amount of their products with several monitors that display some of their awesome videos. Not only can you buy the parts there but the staff at Oracle can help you design and customize you specific lighting needs and come up with a package thats best suited for your build/needs. They also have a large garage area with a lift and full size paint booth which allows them to offer on-site installation of their products and the best part of this is....parts and labor come with a lifetime warranty. That's right; I said lifetime warranty on parts and labor! Basically, you need to see it for yourself and meet the people who have changed the game in the lighting industry. In the meantime, catch a sneak peak at their new location in this feature. This was during their open house/car show to welcome everyone to the new shop, talk about some of their new items they have available, and celebrate another accomplishment. Let's just say they are TFM approved!
To read more of the article click here.
Winner of the JEDCO Small Business of the Year Award:
The JEDCO Small Business of the Year Award is presented to a business that exhibits positive growth in revenue and employment. This year’s recipient has certainly experienced a significant rise in both of those areas. AAC started as an Ebay store in 1999, and quickly carved out a unique niche by developing specialized automotive lighting products. This unique niche set the business up for success. In 2005 Entrepreneur Magazine featured AAC in an article on how to run a successful Internet Business and things began to take off from there. In 2010, AAC Enterprises purchased and renovated a dilapidated 10-thousand square foot warehouse in the heart of Metairie where the unique lighting products are currently designed, developed, and shipped all over the world. Just two years ago, the company had just six employees. Today, they employ 20 with plans to hire more staff in the near future. Their sales have grown 212-percent over the past three-year period with sales projected to surpass $4M this year. AAC’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed. They were recognized three years in a row in Inc. Magazine’s list of 5,000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America....
Top 100 Private Companies of 2014 by New Orleans City Business
New Orleans,LA- August 2014-New Orleans City Business awarded AAC Enterprises as one of the Top 100 Private Companies of August 2014. The resolute principals and solid foundation on which this company was founded has allowed organic growth at a rapid pace, yet we have always stressed that we can only be successful by delivering quality products at fair prices and respecting our customer base. AAC Enterprises graciously accepts the award and continues to strive to be the strongest competitor within our market.
Top 100 Private Companies of 2013 by New Orleans City Business
New Orleans,LA- March 2013-New Orleans City Business awarded AAC Enterprises Top Private Company of March 2013. At the end of the day, the most important thing is how strongly we believe in the management team and the product we are delivering. Our top priority has always been to deliver the highest quality of products along with unsurpassed customer service. Although this award is more directly associated within the proximity of our home office, we do believe in the effects of certain businesses within our community. AAC Enterprises greatly appreciates the award and strives to be the strongest competitor within our market.
AAC Enterprises Honored in 2013 Millennial Awards:
New Orleans,LA- July 2013
The Greater New Orleans region experienced its darkest days post-Katrina. But when the future of the city looked bleak, the Millennial generation saw something else: resilience, excitement, and opportunity. The Millennials have helped to reshape the brand of New Orleans. On the night of July 13th, AAC Enterprises was honored as part of the Millennial generation for developing business opportunities, investing time, talents, and energy, and helping to build a better New Orleans.To read more visit here.
AAC Enterprises Honored in 2012 American Business Awards:
New York, NY – June 19, 2012 – AAC Enterprises Inc was presented with a Bronze Stevie Award in the Consumer Products Company of the Year category in The 10th Annual American Business Awards last night.The American Business Awards are the nation’s premier business awards program.All organizations operating in the U.S.A. are eligible to submit nominations – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small.Nicknamed the Stevies for the Greek word for "crowned,” the trophies were presented to honorees during a gala banquet on Monday, June 18 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York. More than 500 nominees and their guests attended. The presentations were broadcast live by the Business TalkRadio Network.More than 3,000 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories, including Most Innovative Company of the Year, Management Team of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year, Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year, and Executive of the Year, among others....Read Entire Article HERE
Featured in Inc Magazine's Inc.500 List:
NEW YORK, August 24, 2010 -- Inc. magazine today ranked AAC Enterprises Inc. (DBA, ORACLE Lighting) #324 on its 29th annual Inc. 500, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy—America’s independent-minded entrepreneurs. Companies such as Microsoft, Zappos, Intuit, GoDaddy, Zipcar, Clif Bar, American Apparel, Oracle, and many other well-known names gained early exposure as members of the Inc. 500. "Fast growth at any time is a big achievement; fast growth during the past few years is just short of miraculous,” said Inc. editor Jane Berentson. "The Inc. 500 consists of these just-short-of miraculous companies, the ones that through ingenuity and ambition have increased revenue, hired employees, and grown fast in difficult economic times.” The companies on this year's list employ more than 45,000 people. Complete results of the Inc. 500, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at Inc.com/500. Despite the ongoing recession, the 2010 Inc. 500 offers a glimpse of the future of the U.S. economy.