Maybe Donny Osmond was inspired by the sparkle of the mirror ball trophy.
The veteran entertainer won the ninth season of “Dancing With the Stars,” and its glittery prize, and now is set to launch a line of home goods that includes lamps crafted by Lake Forest-based Lamp Works.
Company founder Laurie Winter says she was thrilled to work with Osmond because he was so nice and down to earth.
She started Lamp Works 21 years ago in her basement with no cellphone, GPS device or credit card reader — just old-fashioned shoe leather as she sold her lamps door-to-door. She recalls having to drive to Deerfield to get an international phone book to find potential overseas clients.
“The first three years were the hardest, and everything was in hard copy,” Winter says. “You have to have tenacity. I never doubted myself.”
Lamp Works took off after she showed the lamps at trade shows, starting with a Chicago Gift Market at the Merchandise Mart.
Winter’s brother Jeff Woodall bought half the company 11 years ago and began selling the lamps on prominent industry websites and offering ever-changing designs of wood, crystal, glass, porcelain and metals rather than the previous staid and solid brass. The lamps also caught on at big-box retailers.
The latest lamps designed by Winter and Woodall feature USB ports, rocker switches, and laptop and electronics charger plug-ins in the base. The company has grown its e-commerce business to nearly 3,000 customers worldwide, including hotel clients as diverse as Trump, the Ritz-Carlton, Doubletree and Holiday Inn.
Lamp Works’ founding family sold the business in June to three Wheaton-based investors who aim to expand its technological prowess and double revenues in three to five years. The siblings serve as independent contractors for the company, which employs six.
The new owners — David Grady, John Stipanuk and Jeff Zlabis — aim to expand the business in part by introducing cost-effective, energy-efficient LED lamps to give hotels and other clients operational savings and a technological edge. LED lights last as much as 25 times longer and use 75 percent less energy than conventional lighting.
“We want to transform these designer lamps for future energy savings,” Grady says.
Grady says the merger is a “great marriage” because the three bring their business acumen from corporate America to a small company the calls well-run, successful and ready for growth.
The new owners put up their own personal collateral to share the risk with BMO Harris.
“We know we can grow this business,” Grady says.