LAND O'LAKES — They'll deck your halls.
We Hang Christmas Lights is a Tampa company that, as of right now, has workers up on housetops.
Owned by John Hill and Silas Perry, they work all over the bay area, and even in Orlando, Bradenton and Sarasota. They will decorate your house or business with lights — any way you want.
"I was just driving home from the mall one night and I was thinking," Hill said, "about something people need, but don't necessarily want to do or can't get done. It just kind of popped in my head: a service for putting up Christmas lights.
"The first year (in which Hill worked alone), I was shocked that there was good money to be made from it. So I tweaked it, did research on other companies and finally came into our own."
Hill, who later wrangled his college buddy, Perry, into the business, headed up the company for three years in Albuquerque, N.M. Three years ago, they moved the company to the Bradenton area and then to Tampa. They have expanded to places such as Clearwater, Wesley Chapel, New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and even Orlando. Perry expects the company to decorate nearly 1,000 homes or businesses this holiday season — along with bigger jobs such as decorating entrances to subdivisions.
"What we're really good at is making sure the cords are pulled tight and all the strings and plugs are hidden," Hill said. "We make sure all the lights are straight, and we'll even go back and nitpick ourselves, seeing things we could do better or fix.
"But we also make sure we don't have too many extensions in one outlet or too much onto one breaker. We don't want anything going wrong."
Perry says the basic package starts at $150. According to Hill, the cost is about $30 per strand and the final price tag also includes taking down the lights and storing them.
Hill says the company is flexible with the decorations, even catering to a customer's specific designs. Workers also offer suggestions on what would look the best on the house.
"When we first started out, we knew we needed to get better (decorating the houses)," Perry said. "There's an art to going fast because we want to be quick, but not hasty. We have a basic scheme that we do if the customer isn't decided or sold on one thing."
There are various reasons why people hire someone to hang their Christmas lights. Many are crunched between work and family, while others are getting older, but still want to enjoy having a light display. Hill says the general client is no scrooge. They're typically women, usually 30 to 45, with home value of more than $500,000.
"It's usually people who don't want to do it themselves, but also want to have it done for their kids," Hill said. "I'm sure that most would like to do it themselves, but it's a combination of things of why we get hired. It's just as easy to hire us, plus the safety issues. Some people just don't want to get up on their roof.
"Plus there's convenience. We can get it done in two hours, when it would take someone else all day."
The company is on call nearly 24/7. Perry says if anything goes wrong with the lights, even if a bulb is out, the company will send out someone, whose sole job is to replace the bulb or do other on-site service.
For Land O'Lakes resident Eric Leonard, calling We Hang Christmas Lights was a time-saver. He and his family couldn't squeeze in hanging up lights, but they still wanted decorations.
"If I look at this size of this house and how long it's going to take, the proper time just wasn't there," Leonard said. "My wife is actually the one who found these guys, and we knew what we wanted exactly and they're doing it.
"The house looks great and I've been impressed by how quickly it gets done."
Hill admits this is seasonal work, but it still starts and ends well before and after Christmas. Sure, there aren't many houses, if any at all, to decorate during the summer months, but Hill says that's the company's down time after working seven days a week for two to three straight months.
Hill doesn't hang lights himself anymore, focusing on being "the grease that keeps the wheel running" and realizes that his "phone only rings when there's a problem."
That's okay. Ringing bells this time of the year means business, and 'tis the season that can be merry for Hill and Perry.
"A lot of people say they're getting too old, a lot of people don't feel like doing it, can't do it or don't know how to do it," Perry said. "We do it right the first time, and (customers) never have to go up (on their roofs) and do anything to it."
Mike Camunas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 544-1771.