ORACLE Lighting CEO Tiffanie Hartenstein on the Cars Yeah Podcast
Sit down, buckle up, and enjoy the ride! The Cars Yeah podcast featuring Tiffanie Hartenstein is now LIVE.
Tiffanie Hartenstein is the CEO and co-founder of ORACLE Lighting, and directly manages the day-to-day operations. Since 1999, ORACLE Lighting has developed custom lighting solutions for a wide variety of vehicles and applications. For over 15 years, Tiffanie and her talented team have grown ORACLE Lighting in both size and revenue. They have helped ORACLE Lighting make 9 consecutive appearances on the Inc Magazine Inc.500/5000 list, which highlights the nation’s fastest growing small businesses. In 2021, Oracle Lighting received SEMA’s Manufacturer of the Year Award, and was recognized as the #1 Fastest Growing company in the Greater New Orleans Metro Area.
Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region and the New Orleans area in 2005. Tiffanie and her husband, Justin, lost their jobs and moved to Atlanta, and this is when Oracle Lighting was incorporated. Smart decisions were made along the way to form this business. A side hustle in automotive lighting became their main income stream. Once Tiffanie and Justin were able to come back to New Orleans, they went all in with devotion for the business… including late nights, early mornings, and many sacrifices along the way.
When ORACLE Lighting was just starting, a lot of the car shows that Tiffanie and Justin went to were night shows and attendees were trying to make their vehicles stand out. Many people said that they couldn’t simply sell lighting for cars… but they wanted to do one thing and do it really well.
Tiffanie admits that it is risky to create a new product; however, the couple strives every day to allow themselves enough flexibility to move quickly with the market. Tiffanie and Justin have a great creative eye and insight for what is next in the automotive industry which has led to quite an evolution of product line for ORACLE Lighting… and everything from fiber optic kits to wheel rings. ORACLE Lighting produces some OE products, but for the most part, they pay attention to industry trends by going to a lot of consumer shows which gives insight on what consumers are interested in at the time.
Electric vehicles are the talk of the town in the automotive industry. Tiffanie says “I think it’s going to take a while, but the aftermarket sector will embrace it.” She asks questions like “How can we make this better?” and “What are they lacking on in lighting?” or “How can we make improvements?” when it comes to electric vehicle lighting.
Advice that Tiffanie gives to people wanting to go into business for themselves is to set the tone that it seems glamorous with champagne and caviar dreams. However, it is not easy. Owning your own business comes with great responsibility and risk. It’s not just about the startup money but being liable for everyone and everything in your company. She says if you can understand that process, then you’re the right person for this.
Tiffanie says that ORACLE’s 5-year goal is to grow the business by 60%. She says, “We absolutely can achieve that!” because of ORACLE’s strategic way with sustainable systems within the operation. She wants the brand to show up in places it has never been seen before. Tiffanie is building a life that will live the experiences she wants, like traveling while still knowing the business is running and operating without her. She is already basically there! “I can trust in my employees and processes we have put into place” she says.
Tiffanie is a huge advocate of volunteer work and giving back to the community. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities in SEMA. She is also part of SBN (SEMA Businesswomen’s Network) that does so much for the industry, like education series for women and a women’s leadership program. She has met so many great people along the way while building a network of support. Tiffanie says that being part of a group like that is ideal.
Probably the most popular question that Tiffanie and Justin get is how they balance work and life, especially since they are in business together as a married couple with kids. She says that it works out easy for them because they do different things in the business to the point where they are not stepping on one another’s toes constantly. “We trust in each other” she says. Tiffanie and Justin grew up in a family where both of their parents also ran their own businesses together.
When asked about influential people in her life, Tiffanie quickly responded by expressing her father’s fearless grit and outstanding work ethic. He was a captain in the New Orleans Fire Department while also running a business in the French Quarter. He never brought home any work-related issues or complained about work. Tiffanie values all of the amazing lessons she learned from her dad.
Tiffanie’s grandfather’s 1976 red Bronco is a special vehicle in her life. It is the first interaction with a vehicle that she can remember. “It was super cool at the time” she says. Her grandfather is from the Philippines, served in the Navy, and was very well known in the city. Everyone would recognize the vehicle and knew exactly who was in it. “I remember so vividly how the seats felt” she says. Everyone would recognize the vehicle and she felt like a celebrity!
Tiffanie’s ultimate drive is the Bronco ORACLE built for SEMA. Since her grandfather drove a 1976 Bronco, she would love to go off-roading in the new Bronco with him and see his reaction and smile. Tiffanie says that she wishes she could ask her grandfather more about the challenges he faced with coming in and starting a business as an immigrant.
If reincarnated into a vehicle, Tiffanie best aligns with a Formula 1 car. She loves Formula 1 and can relate to the cars’ speed. They get to travel a lot while being catered to. “It’s all about the peak performance of these vehicles”.
Leadership is Tiffanie’s subject of choice when it comes to reading. Her most recent read, “Die with Zero”, by Bill Perkins, is about realizing life is short and we work a lot. But are we really enjoying it? Who can I help? How can I help people while enjoy life?
Finally, Tiffanie left some words of inspiration making emphasis in the importance of not letting other people take your focus away from what you want to accomplish. She keeps Theodore Roosevelt’s quote handy to remind her of this when she’s having a tough day.