—By: Pradnya Joshi – Article for the Milwaukee Business Journal—
You’ll never look at a light bulb the same way after speaking with Marty Peck.
Peck says correct lighting can improve sales, increase productivity, even put you in a good mood.
You may have seen Peck‘s lighting designs in public projects such as the award-winning Third Ward Fire recreation for the last three years and a holiday light display, called Lights Fantastic, in 1992 at Cathedral Square. But most of his work involves brightening commercial and residential space for clients of his Germantown-based company, Creative Lighting Design & Engineering.
To Peck, lighting means much more than just fixtures and bulbs.
“There’s so much of angle, texture, color, focus, mood, emphasis,” said Peck, who started in the field in college by working on theatrical lighting. “All of those come together to create a scene.”
Although he’s far from a stage now, Peck still applies theatrical techniques to commercial settings.
On the stage, the same lighting fixtures are used to create different moods during a performance. Corporate lobbies all also have a different look every day, with colors, textures and styles to create variety for employees and clients.
“You can create a whole different personality of that room with the same lights,” he said.
A company can also save money.
One of Peck‘s clients, US Controls Corp. in New Berlin, says it’s now paying a third of what it once did in electricity costs after Peck‘s firm redesigned the lighting for its 30,000-square-foot plant and offices.
US Controls had been asked by Wisconsin Electric Power Co. to use high-efficiency lighting for its new plant, but the original fixtures the utility suggested looked terrible, said Spencer Schantz, president and chief executive officer of the maker of appliance controls.
Instead, Peck used indirect lighting that reflects off the ceiling and that required 40 fixtures, instead of the planned 350. “It’s not only comfortable, but it’s amazingly efficient,” Schantz said. “The people love it.”
Peck, 39, has a degree in electrical engineering, but he emphasizes that he is an artist who paints with light rather than a scientist who thinks with a slide rule.
He worked as a senior project engineer for Kohler Co. for 10 years and then as designer at a Milwaukee lighting fixture manufacturer for 4 years before starting his own company in 1992.
“I employ the art and the aesthetics first,” Peck said. “Light needs to be subtle. It needs to be felt but not noticed.”
Peck has two part-timed associates who work with his firm. He says he hasn’t really marketed himself; sometimes architects hire him and other times he finds work through networking or by word of mouth.
Too often, companies skimp on lighting design and provide only enough light for people to “see,” in the interest of saving cost, Peck said. Businesses need to look at the indirect effect of poor lighting.
“They don’t realize that [employees’] well-being, their productivity, their feeling of their workplace is being affected negatively,” Peck said.
He wouldn’t discuss his annual revenues, but he typically charges $55 to $60 an hour and projects run about $200 to $12,000.
About 25% of his business comes from designing indoor and outdoor lighting for homes.
Peck‘s current commercial projects include helping to renovate the Washington County Courthouse, improve the lighting at Riverport Shopping Center in Fox Point and giving Sinai Samaritan Medical Center’s east campus a more inviting and comfortable look from the outside.