Dec­o­rat­ing busi­nesses stay busy for Christmas ’T

String­ing lights, putting up trees started in Oc­to­ber

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY BRANDI BOTTALICO

is the sea­son for lights and dé­cor.

Ron­ald Lay­man said he drove his dad crazy when he was growing up in Walk­ersville, al­ways buy­ing more lights to dec­o­rate for Christmas.

“It’s part of the fun,” he said.

Mr. Lay­man now runs Fred­er­ick-based Christmas dec­o­rat­ing busi­ness, The King of Christmas. He said the busi­ness, which he founded about nine years ago, dec­o­rates ev­ery­thing from res­i­dences to com­mer­cial prop­er­ties. One of his more well­known clients is Volt res­tau­rant in down­town Fred­er­ick. He puts up about half a mil­lion lights an­nu­ally for Ski Lib­erty in Fair­field, Penn­syl­va­nia.

“Ev­ery day is some­thing dif­fer­ent. Ev­ery day is fun,” he said.

Christmas dec­o­rat­ing busi­nesses start gear­ing up months be­fore Christmas, string­ing lights and putting up trees. Christmas Decor, based out of My­ersville, started its sea­son at the end of Oc­to­ber, owner Roy Good said.

Mr. Good said some of the well-known places he dec­o­rates are John T. Wil­liams Fu­neral Home in Brunswick and au­thor Nora Roberts’ Inn Boons-Boro on the in­side and out­side.

Both Mr. Good and Mr. Lay­man said there are clients who want dec­o­ra­tions put up be­fore Thanks­giv­ing.

“There’s so many peo­ple that want them up, so that when they’re fin­ished eat­ing their Thanks­giv­ing dinner and they’ve washed the last plate, they’re go­ing to turn the Christmas lights on,” Mr. Good said.

This is Mr. Good’s 16th Christmas sea­son run­ning Christmas Decor, a fran­chise based out of Dal­las. He used to only do hedge trim­ming and snow re­moval, but that was hit or miss for busi­ness. Now Christmas dec­o­rat­ing is about a tenth of what he does, he said.

“You spend all that money be­ing ready, but if it doesn’t snow, there’s no rev­enue,” he said. “Christmas comes ev­ery year and every­body is happy.”

He said fran­chis­ing was a good op­tion for him. The fran­chise pro­vides train­ing and news on the in­dus­try through­out the year, as well as tech­ni­cal sup­port and soft­ware. Ac­cord­ing to Christmas Decor’s web­site, the av­er­age gross sales for a fran­chisee af­ter three years in op­er­a­tion is $194,786.

But for some Christmas dec­o­ra­tors, it was just a way to get out into the com­mu­nity.

This was the first year Rick Jones Elec­tric ex­plored the Christmas lights in­dus­try, lead elec­tri­cian Doug Pow­ell said. The elec­tric com­pany put up Christmas lights on busi­nesses for the Down­town Fred­er­ick Part­ner­ship.

Mr. Pow­ell said that by lin­ing the win­dows and door­ways of the about 15 to 20 store­fronts, the com­pany got the chance to talk to peo­ple and busi­ness own­ers in the area. And its niche au­di­ence is small busi­nesses down­town.

“Ex­te­rior Christmas lights is just a fun added bonus that we didn’t want to pass up,” he said.

When Rick Jones Elec­tric em­ploy­ees were hang­ing lights on Nov. 18, they thought it would be fun to wear rented bear cos­tumes while dec­o­rat­ing.

“We re­ally en­joyed our­selves,” he said. “We were hon­ored to be asked to do it. It was a great op­por­tu­nity for us to get out there.” Mr. Lay­man said he likes when they get to do some­thing spe­cial for clients, such as a cus­tom yard dis­play of car­toon char­ac­ter Peppa Pig for a client’s son. The com­pany also dec­o­rated a tree in Sil­ver Spring that a neigh­bor­hood has been dec­o­rat­ing for more than 80 years. This was the first time the neigh­bor­hood hired a com­pany to do the dec­o­rat­ing.

“You’re kind of be­ing a part of the his­tory,” he said. “When you turn those lights on for the first time, you see them get a lit­tle more into the Christmas spirit.”

And he said peo­ple rec­og­nize the brand King of Christmas when he’s wear­ing his work jacket and say hi. He’s con­sid­ered mak­ing the brand a fran­chise, he said.

Mr. Lay­man said he en­joys giv­ing peo­ple jobs dur­ing the hol­i­days and the same em­ploy­ees tend to re­turn year af­ter year.

“The whole thing is a great ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

“There’s so many peo­ple that want them up, so that when they’re fin­ished eat­ing their Thanks­giv­ing dinner and they’ve washed the last plate, they’re go­ing to turn the Christmas lights on.”

— Roy Good, Christmas Decor

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Roberto Mo­rales (left), team leader, and Ron Lay­man, owner of The King of Christmas, wraps gar­land and lights on the col­umn of a house in Fred­er­ick, Mary­land. The busi­ness was founded nine years ago.

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