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Tales from Sales: Perris Weber

Tales from Sales: Perris Weber

Perris Weber, an Alcon Lighting sales consultant
Published on April 2, 2024

Last updated on April 9, 2024 10:40 am


Alcon Lighting sales consultant Perris Weber has worked for the Los Angeles-based company for seven years.

Perris, who talked about his motivation (“helping people create beautiful spaces”), conducts most business on the phone. As a seasoned lighting specification sales consultant, Perris, who also discussed his challenges, background and hometown, strives to be “accessible, efficient and resourceful.”

This longtime lighting professional, recently interviewed at Alcon Lighting headquarters in Los Angeles, aims to come up with “solutions and suggestions” to his client’s ideas and accommodate any commercial lighting project.

Where do you consider your home?

Southern California. I was born and raised here. I’m comfortable here. I know my way around. This is my home. For now, this is my home. I grew up in Torrance. I live in Compton. I suppose you could still call that the South Bay. I love the South Bay. I spent 16 years living in West Hollywood. I eventually came back.

What do you like about the South Bay?

The people. It’s clean and it’s not as crowded. I like that the beach is nearby. It’s more causal—less intense than LA—and I was raised in the South Bay, so I’m used to it. Maybe there’s more of a mechanical history, too. Up in Hollywood, it’s more of an artists’ and actors’ environment. That’s not as much the case in the South Bay, where people tend to go to work and raise families.

Do you recall the first lighting sales consultant experience?

I remember wanting to be a furniture and design sales consultant. I went to a shop on Pico Boulevard called Pampa, which means “the plains” in Argentina, and I walked into the place on a Saturday morning—they had a lot of fun, cool furniture—and I said to myself: I could work here. I was hired the next day. That started my career in industrial design-type sales. I did that for quite some time. When I went back to Torrance, I went on Craigslist and found a lighting shop in Manhattan Beach which was under construction. I knew I was mechanically inclined. I knew about electronics, though when I walked into the place, I did not know about lighting, a color rendering index (CRI) or what’s a lumen. I worked hard. They gave me an industrial lighting manual. I read it. I learned. I fell in love with lighting.

Do you think the design experience predisposed you to become interested in learning about lighting?

I love beauty—beautiful things—and a beautiful environment. I used to sell cosmetics [at Nordstrom], too, though I wanted to sell beauty on a larger scale with more [enduring] meaning on big projects. I didn’t want to sell lipstick and mascara forever. Beauty and helping people find beautiful things motivates me. I’ve always been mechanical and I had learned to build and fix things, so that helped.

My father was mechanical. He had worked as a machine shop grinder—grinding screws while working in aviation to make fasteners for airplane [fuselage] skins—and we always had a good set of tools at our house. My dad was also entrepreneurial, which helped model a good work ethic. If anything was broken, I could figure out how to fix it. I fixed a lot of things. It was just a talent I had and I learned that I could do anything with the right tools. My neighbor right now has an amazing set of tools—he’s always out there putting concrete in his driveway and fixing his car—and it makes me think: you can do anything with the right tools.

That’s what I like about my job at Alcon Lighting. I can do anything with the right tools—we have the hardware, the website—I’ve been given the tools and [autonomy] to be successful. That’s all I need. Over the years, I’ve also learned from failure—I don’t repeat failures over and over—so I’m confident that I know what I’m doing.

One time, as a kid at a new school in the fourth grade, I remember having seen new kids walk into class with their heads down and thinking: I’m going to walk into [the new class] with my head up. I walked in like that. Later, someone said something to me about remembering how I walked into the classroom. I think it’s all in how you present yourself—it’s not right to be scared or intimidated to do anything. I can do anything.

How did you learn about Alcon Lighting?

Craigslist. When I left the other lighting company, I had been working hard, including on weekends, so I wanted to get out and see the country. I enrolled in truck driving school. I wanted to learn to drive a big rig. I was taking classes, doing well, learning to drive big trucks—reversing, doing turns—when I turned to Craigslist again to browse. On the first day of the year, January first [seven years ago], I came across an ad for Alcon Lighting which focused on family.

That impressed me. I thought to myself: this ad [reads] like it might be a nice place to work. It was the first time in my life when I decided to take a job interview seriously. I stood in front of a mirror. I practiced my answers. When I showed up, I sat with [co-founder] Jake [Hakimi] for the interview. A couple of days later, I was hired. I’ve been working here ever since. The company was [hiring new staff and] primed to take off. Jake asked the right questions. 

Later, I had a motorcycle accident and [Alcon Lighting] accommodated me with a wheelchair and was supportive. [The company goes] out of the way to train and teach me and give me the tools I need to do my work. I feel like I’m part of the family. It turned out that family really is important here. The company wants me to do well.

Do you recall the first major lighting sale?

Yes. [Laughing] I was going through some old quotes and I came across a 30-piece order worth about $30,000. Every single fixture on the order included emergency backup. I thought to myself: why? The customer didn’t need emergency backup on every light. Maybe they needed that feature on about 25 percent of the fixtures, not even that. You just have to light the egress—the exit or lighted path on the way out—so I called the customer and explained why the project didn’t need all the emergency backups. It ended up being a $25,000—not a $35,000—sale. Saving the customer money without compromising the project goal, and, of course, making a consultative sale, made me feel good. This was early in my Alcon Lighting career, which proved to myself, the company and customer that I’m capable of consulting on big sales.

What’s a consistent customer compliment?

[Long pause] That I’m accessible. Yesterday, a woman told me that she’s happy with my [suggestions]. I can figure things out. I can help. I know a lot. I listen. I listen to and remember each point. I pay attention and write notes before sending a quote. I’m quick. It doesn’t take a long time for me to reply, respond or get back to someone. People say ‘thanks for getting back to me so quickly’—I get that all the time.

I think people are happy that I’m accessible—you can reach me by phone—and I’m efficient and resourceful. I can come up with ideas, solutions and suggestions. I’m not afraid to talk to people on the telephone. I answer the phone. I’ll pick up the incoming call. I’m here to help. If you work with me, you’re in good hands and you’re gonna get the lights delivered. 

By the end, you’re likely to say that it was a good experience. Sometimes, the phone connection doesn’t work or things go wrong. But, when you work with me, I’ll take care of you because Alcon Lighting takes care of me.

What makes Alcon Lighting different?

We’re ready for business. When linear lighting started getting popular, Alcon Lighting anticipated and was ready for demand. The company bosses figured out how to make, distribute and deliver linear lighting in an affordable way and get things done. We sold a lot of linear lighting. 

Perris Weber explained that Alcon Lighting was ahead of the curve in anticipating the rising popularity of linear lighting, as pictured in this office lobby
Milstein Law Office designed by OKB Architects.

We’ve also done well with ring fixtures, pendants and downlights. The company is resourceful. We figure things out—Alcon Lighting solves problems—and make work, projects and life easier. We’re always creating and developing new ideas.

The website is a vital part of Alcon Lighting. Sometimes, I can tell whether a customer has been reading the blog articles and case studies or browsed the site’s product pages and spec sheets. People start there. Or we’ll go through the site together on the phone. The site’s there to help the customer. This helps me help the customer in a more expedient way.

Do you recall a rewarding lighting sales consultation?

Last week, I had a call come in—while I was busy, which was challenging because I like to be prepared—and the customer was somewhat frantic and asked if I could consult regarding an automotive model showroom.

I’m not an interior designer, though I do help people with design, and I lack experience and knowledge in showroom lighting for cars. I listened and kept listening. I concentrated. I kept letting the customer know what I could provide as she spoke. At one point, when she was talking about chairs, sofas and interior layouts, I let her know that my consultation could be improved if she let me take charge and explain what I know.

I let her know that I could ask questions and investigate and help her. She listened and reciprocated with her time and effort. Over the weekend, I thought about her auto showroom lighting challenges. We re-connected on Monday. She contributed her thoughts on the aesthetics and talked about what she thought she could do with what I was suggesting—we worked together—and, by Tuesday, she placed a new $31,000 order on cylindrical lights with some decorative features. I feel like it’s going to be a robust, big and beautiful installation. 

Our creative director [company co-founder] David [Hakimi] is considering making it one of our case studies. I know she’s going to love the lights. One of the things I love about working for Alcon Lighting is that, when the box shows up at the shipping destination, and the customer opens the box, the lights will be beautiful. I was pleased with how I took care of the customer—and so was she. She thanked me for suggesting the fixtures and choices of placement.

Is there a type of lighting you think is underappreciated?

Yes. Cylinders. They’re good-looking and give off really good light. Aesthetically, they’re beautiful.

Cylinder lights, as pictured in this office lobby at 735 Montgomery Street, are aesthetically beautiful and give off good light, according to Perris Weber
735 Montgomery Street office lobby, designed by Costa Brown Architecture.

Speaking of choices, you’ve faced crisis, too. Can you tell me about an experience that made a difference in your approach to your work?

[Pause] I’ve had some crazy times. When I was out of college—I was 20 or 22—I was making my way. At one point, I had no place to live. I wasn’t getting along with my family. I was crashing at friends’ homes. I was also sleeping in my car. [Pause] I had gotten a barback job—the person who washes glasses at the bar—at a Cheesecake Factory. My fingers would be cut or swollen from being in the dishwater so much. And I was always the last one out of the restaurant. That was my job.

One cold, winter night when I got out of work after midnight, I got into my Ford Maverick, which a friend had sold to me for $500, to get some sleep. I went to adjust the rear view mirror. The rear view mirror just fell off. I remember thinking to myself in that moment—and I said to myself—that’s a sign. I thought to myself: don’t look back.

Did working at Nordstrom shape your work philosophy?

Yes. Nordstrom—which also started as a family business—is an incredible place to work. I would recommend that anyone who’s serious about being good at what they do go work for Nordstrom. I worked there during the summers and holiday seasons for five years. They let me do a lot. They hire you and leave you alone to do your job. Initially, I thought Nordstrom was too elegant for me—I was more of a Macy’s type of guy—and I learned that they treat their employees well. It’s a great store. Nordstrom made me better. Nordstrom empowered me.

What’s your favorite part of coming to work every day?

Not knowing what’s gonna happen. Every day is different. This place is different every day, fun and challenging. I enjoy conquering uncertainty. I like riding my bike or driving my car and coming into work to face the unknown. At Alcon Lighting, I can enjoy my job. Here, I enjoy taking my work seriously.

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