Meet The Team: Athena Ramirez

Sunny San Diego native, Athena Ramirez thinks her hometown is magical. It may have something to do with her annual pass to Disneyland or the perfect weather year-round. When she’s not seeking thrill on the latest Disneyland ride, she’s hanging with her friends and family. Athena is the newest member of our quotations team and she’s an all-around team player! In fact, right when she started she was deemed the nicest girl in the office after covering Greg on the lotto pool. While we didn’t win the 654 Million, we sure won when Athena accepted the position at SDLA!

Q: How did you get started in the lighting industry?

AR: When one door closes another one opens. I was laid off from an alarm company and looking for new opportunities. My old co-worker had experience in the lighting industry, so that’s where she went looking when we left the alarm company. Once she was established, she was able to help me get a job at Crescent as a quotes coordinator. It was my first position in lighting and every day I was learning something new. I’m really thankful that’s where I ended up because I was able to get insight into so many different components of the lighting industry. And of course, because that opportunity led me here.

Q: What’s your day to day like in the office?

 AR: Quotes is fast moving, so when I come in the morning I know I have to be ready to work and make quick decisions for clients. I start the day by gathering all the jobs I have been assigned and double check that I have everything covered for each project. Whenever I have questions or challenging specifications to meet, my go-to guys are Crockett and Dan; I can rely on them for their help. Everyone here has been extremely helpful and supportive. There is nothing better than quoting a project from start to finish while learning something new in the process.

Q: Do you have a favorite/most rewarding project that you have worked on?

AR: The first week I was here I landed a job. Granted, it was a small job, but Danny went out of his way to come out of his office and acknowledge that it was the first job I landed for the company. He had everyone give me a round of applause and that was really rewarding to feel, so early on, that I was helping contribute to the team. SDLA took a chance on me and I’m excited to be a part of their success.

Q: What do you like best about the culture at SDLA?

 AR: In my first month here, the time flew by. Everyone was so helpful in getting me trained and up to speed. It didn’t take long for me to see that this company is like one giant family. The way everyone treats one another shows that the principals value a family-oriented place.

A Bird’s Eye View of Our Lighting Controls Department

How would your life change if you had a bird’s eye view of the inner workings of everything around you? In our lighting controls department, we have a bird’s eye view of what’s happening in our industry, and alongside the fixture quotation department, providing the complete lighting package. Each day, projects make their way onto our bid board and with each project comes a different set of specifications, Title 24 requirements, design requirements and style preferences. We have a front row seat to how things are being done in various parts of our market and how ideas are being executed in different scenarios. Because of this, we can compile our broad array of experiences in order to provide the end user with the best possible interface and cost-effective solution. Ready to soak in everything you need to know about a day in the life of our lighting controls department?

1. An idea is born in our quotations department. The process begins in the quotations department when a request comes in from a distributor who is working with a contractor or lighting engineer. At this point, one of our four specialists will take the project under his wing. Once a specialist is assigned to quote and design, they remain involved in the entire process so that the point of contact stays the same for the distributor/contractor working with us. Initially one of our control specialists will analyze all the documents provided by the contractor and determine if the specifications meet Title 24 standards. Design begins at this stage and after we feel confident that we have provided the best value we will send the project back to the contractor for review.

2. Awarded the gig. If we are awarded the job, we eagerly to get to work. Sometimes a new series of documents and revisions will come in or we will work from the initial set of information. In this stage of the process, we finalize the layout in AutoCAD. This layout will serve as an instructional floor plan for how each room will be designed and can include wiring details for how all the equipment is installed into the system. There are two different solution types for our layouts, standalone and networked designs. A standalone system will have all the controls, controlled in one room. A networked system will have every room networked back to a centralized Eclypse/Gateway controller where time-clock and/or Automatic Demand Response control is incorporated. After designing the layout to include the best fit solution for the application and to meet California Title 24 requirements, we will send the final document to the contractor for execution and installation.

3. Our design comes to life. Each project is different and the same can be said for the contractor or engineer who will bring our design to life. Some contractors will install the equipment based on our exact design, others may go back and forth with our specialist to optimize the solution, making communication a vital component of this process. Each time we work with a different contractor or engineer we are gaining more understanding of our industry and how to better serve our customers. Alongside the contractor, we are solving issues we see in our field and providing solutions that are innovating how controls are incorporated into the lighting industry.

With our vast experience and knowledge of the industry, we are confident we can offer the best value and design when an idea makes its way to our lighting controls department. If you’re looking for a team that places a priority on effective communication and value then bring your idea to our quotations department by emailing!

Meet The Team: Crockett Mercer

Not all those who wander are lost. This rings true for Crockett Mercer, born and raised in Austin, Texas and looking for a change, Crockett left his hometown to find new opportunities in another exciting city. Crockett always said it would take a special city for him to leave his comfort zone but when the chance to move to San Diego presented itself he knew he couldn’t pass it up. His co-workers wasted no time before coming up with nicknames that played on every variation of Crockett they could think of, with Crockdog being their favorite. Crockdog is a valued member of both the project quotations team and our beloved company softball team. Ready to meet the man from Texas and step into a day in the life of a project quotations specialist?

Q: How did you get started in the lighting industry?

CM: It’s crazy to think that I’ve been in the lighting industry now for 10 years, but it all started with me just looking for a stable nine to five job. My friend offered me a delivery driver job at FSG and by the time I left the company in 2014 I had climbed the ladder into project sales. When I was looking to leave Austin, I reached out to reps in cool cities around the country to inquire about any opportunities out there. It just so happened that SDLA was hiring around the time I was looking…the stars aligned and I haven’t looked back since.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

CM: Project quotations is an extremely rewarding position here at SDLA. I love when requests come in without specifications for the light fixtures and I have the chance to build out the design as well as provide the client with an accurate quote. When my design builds are used I feel extremely rewarded, it really keeps me going.

Q: What do you like about the culture at SDLA?

 CM: The atmosphere of this company is unbeatable, I promise it’s not a cliché when we all say that this company is more comparable to one big family than a group of coworkers. Especially within my department, I find that I can lean on my coworkers for everything and vice versa, they can always count on me. Inside the office, we all work great together and laugh our way through the day and the same can be said for our relationships outside of the office as well. I’m on the company softball team, and I think I’m just there for another warm body, because I’m not that great, but I love that they welcome me with open arms to come out and have a good time.

 Q: What does your typical day look like?

CM: Every morning I come in and check our bid board, which helps us organize which team members are handling what and ensures the work is evenly distributed across our department. Every project brings its own unique challenges and opportunities to our team, and we approach everything with the same process but always provide a different solution. The process may stay the same, but every project is fresh and new, making the day to day fun and exciting.

Meet The Team: Dan Horning

This month’s Meet the Team is with Dan Horning, a vital component of our project quotations team. Dan was born and raised in San Diego and loves to hike, camp and surf in his hometown. When Dan isn’t fitting together the puzzle pieces of big projects in quotations, he’s spending time with his wife and two kids. Let’s meet one of our favorite San Diego dads!

Q: How did you get started in the lighting industry?

DH: I got started in the lighting industry after working at HD supply for 3 years. Kristin reached out to me about an open position in quotations and piqued my interest about the growing company. I’ve been here now for 1 ½ years and I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much about the industry, I’m glad I made the switch!

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

DH: I love putting together a big project because it’s similar to putting together a difficult puzzle. All the moving parts and details of a job come together to make a masterpiece. My favorite part is stepping back after a project is finished and admiring all the components that needed to come together for the job to get done.

Q: What do you like most about the culture at SDLA?

DH: The culture here is really great. I love that everyone is willing to help each other. I can ask someone ten questions per day and never feel like a burden..that kind of culture is hard to beat. I never get any push back when I’m struggling or need help with a project. The holiday sweater party and other fun events also add to the environment, it’s always nice to get the opportunity to have fun with co-workers.

Q: What has been your most memorable project?

 DH: My first big and challenging job was the illumina i3 Campus project completed in 2016. The new Illumina addition was a 7-acre complex including three buildings with an open style office that flowed freely with the outside. The project took 2-3 days and when it was finished I think we all felt pretty proud of the finished product.