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A Day on the Job

Jerry Osborn, Manager, PM Lighting Products Inc., St. Petersburg

ELLEN MOSES
Published February 11, 2004

How long have you worked here?

I've been here about 31/2 years.

What hours do you work?

I work 9 to 5, Monday through Saturday.

Did you have any background in this type business?

No, I worked as a service writer for a motorcycle shop before this.

So how did you end up here?

I came in one day, and I had met (owner/president) Tom (Merrell), and me and Tom just got to talking, and he said he needed some help working the counter and stuff. So I started out working behind the counter.

What kind of training did you get for your position?

It was on-the-job, personal training. Tom Merrell has been a big inspiration. A lot of the knowledge that I have gained is because of Tom. He's really worked one-on-one with me.

How long before you felt like you really "got it"?

About a year and a half, two years. Because it takes a lot to know every single manufacturer that we carry, and we carry a lot of them. Every manufacturer has a special ID code, and you have to have those numbers in your head, quick.

What goes on at PM Lighting?

We do some contract work. We carry lines like Classic Lighting, Casablanca Fan Co., which is the No. 1 fan company on the market today, Waterfords, Tiffanys. Pretty much every line that we carry is top quality. We service and repair everything that we sell here, too.

How many people work here?

We have about 10 employees.

What are your primary job responsibilities?

Overseeing the warehouse and the stock that comes in, working the sales counter, working customer service, handling customer problems, making sure customers receive their shipments and just managing the showroom.

Who are your customers?

We work with a lot of contractors, a lot of interior decorators and just customers coming in off the street. I got an order for a guy that lives out in Brandon, about three months ago, who built this huge home and he spent $7,000 here. We've got an account with some condos in Sun City where we supply all their custom outside lanterns.

What is a typical day like for you?

We try to pick up from yesterday. We try to make sure we get our purchase orders in - faxed to our factories, make sure everybody put their deposits in. Some of this stuff is built to order, and it can take up to three or four weeks to get in here.

Do you do much hands-on repair work?

I'm mostly behind the counter, but I do do hands-on stuff. We clean crystal chandeliers for customers.

What else do people come in here for?

Lighting fixtures, light bulbs, silk shades. We carry commercial light bulbs, not the standard stuff you buy in the grocery store. We carry more (types/styles) light bulbs than anybody around.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

My favorite thing, honestly, is the different kinds of people that I meet.

What is your least favorite thing?

When a person comes in and they need this special order fixture that you can't find anywhere else, and I have to order it and the factory tells me, "Well, we just don't have those sitting on the shelf, they're made to order." So then you're looking at a three- to four-week wait time. Then you have to tell the customer, and they have to wait or do without. I don't like that, but there's really nothing you can do about it, you know.

What makes a quality light fixture?

You can go to (a big home improvement store) and buy a fixture, made in China. Open it up and look at the guts; they got the plastic sockets in there. Well you run a 100-watt light bulb in there for any amount of time it will melt the socket. We carry stuff with the thick gauge wires, porcelain sockets. That's real quality stuff.

What kind of personality traits do you need for this job?

Patience. For factories, customers. Also a positive attitude, 'cause sometimes things don't run as smooth as they should.

How much money do you make?

I make a salary but it's really hard for me to describe because I also get commission. So my pay really fluctuates from week to week.

What would you earn in a good year?

$35,000 maybe. Between $30,000 and $35,000.

What would your dream job be?

To have my own lighting store.

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