Looking closely at the new logo for Cummings Lighthouse, you see a cross inside a light bulb.
It’s appropriate since Brandon and Stacie Carter prayed before taking a leap of faith in taking over the business Sept. 11, 2020, and have since implemented changes to better serve their customers.
On April 30, the spotlight was on the work they and their staff and family put in as they celebrated the grand reopening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an open house.
“Our mission here at Cummings Lighthouse is to follow Mark 10:45: ‘For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many,'” Brandon said during the ceremony.
“That’s what we want to instill here at Cummings Lighthouse,” he said. “We’re a family. This whole group here is a family. We want to serve the community as best that we can, so that’s what we’re going to use this place to do — to serve others and lift others up.”
The business was started by Lee and Kathleen Cummings in 1955 as Cummings Wholesale Electric after Lee recognized the need for the community to have its own source of electrical supplies.
It was incorporated in 1962 as a result of the tremendous growth that had taken place. In May 1974, the building was changed to better be able to display the variety of light fixtures stocked, and sales were opened up to the retail customer.
After the Cummingses retired in 1981, the business was purchased by Richard and Kay Shanks.
Four years later, they purchased Phillips Electric Supply Co. in Greencastle, and that store and the Seymour location operated as Cummings Wholesale Electric Co. Inc.
In 1990, Richard announced the company was purchased by All-Phase Electric Supply Co.
Then in October 1991, Ernie and Becky Goranson became owners of Cummings Lighthouse. Becky had worked there for six years, and her sister served as manager for 18 years.
The Goransons maintained ownership until the Carters took over.
Stacie, a Seymour native, was the sales floor manager from 2009 to 2015 and returned in 2019 as general manager.
“(Becky) and I have remained close over the years. She was like a grandma to me, so we would meet up every couple months,” Stacie said. “She was needing a strong hand in the store because she knew she was getting to a point in her life where she needed to cut back and she needed someone else to come in here and just do it for her.”
One of their talks was about the Carters buying the business. A month later, they let Becky know they were interested, and she began working toward retirement.
Taking over a business during the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge, but the Carters relied on their faith to push forward.
“We try to be as much as possible faith-based, so we do a lot of prayer and speaking with each other and praying about it,” Brandon said. “Every question seemed to be answered, and at a point, it’s just kind of ‘OK, God, this is what you want, where we’re supposed to be.’ Through it all, that has always been our thought. That’s our feelings. That’s our way. Everything has just lined up 100%.”
Keeping the faith
Brandon said if they had been asked 10 years ago if they were going to buy a business, it wouldn’t have seemed possible.
That’s because he was disabled for 12 years and for two years was in bed for 22 hours a day. That was due to his time as a competitive weightlifter.
“I had two heart surgeries, a major back surgery. I’ve been cardioverted 13 times, plus that many times or more on each of my heart surgeries. You’re talking cardioversions somewhere up near 40,” he said. “I literally had bone fragments in my discs, and two different times, I had temporary paralysis and was in the hospital. They got me back going to where I can feel my legs again and stuff.”
He credits God and his wife for getting him through it.
“She has been with me and by my side through it all and really helping me, been my rock through it all,” Brandon said of Stacie. “God has been moving us through this, and you never know what it’s for, but we just trust in him and believe that that’s our path we are to walk. Obviously, that wasn’t a good situation going through all of that, but yet it was.”
That led them to Cummings Lighthouse and getting a chance to work with great people.
“Everything has led up to this point, and we wouldn’t ever change it,” Brandon said. “I’d go through it all over again in a heartbeat, especially with (Stacie) by my side because she’s my rock. She’s one of the reasons I’m able to be standing here today because she had the faith.”
After taking ownership, the Carters wanted to make some changes before doing a grand opening or ribbon cutting.
That included a new pricing structure, a new logo, a new website, a new phone system and aesthetic changes.
“We still have big changes we need to do, but those were the core ones that we wanted done before everyone came in,” Stacie said.
The business also joined the Seymour Chamber of Commerce, so spring seemed like the perfect time to have a celebration.
The Carters have expanded the product line at the store. Products include ceiling, wall, multisystem, exterior and landscaping lights, ceiling fans, lamps, LED fixtures, furniture and home accents.
The outdoor room also features grills, and Stacie said they offer free assembly and delivery of a new one and free takeaway of the old grill. Other products also have free delivery within a 50-mile radius.
Plus, most of their vendors will drop ship.
“We’ve sold product to a customer out in California and shipped it out there. We’ve shipped to Florida,” Stacie said.
“That’s something that we’re trying to work on and expand with our website,” Brandon said. “Eventually, that’s one thing that we’re looking at, too, is the possibility of doing actual purchases online.”
If people choose to shop in-store, they will be assisted by knowledgeable sales team members.
“We’re the largest showroom in southern Indiana for lighting,” Brandon said. “You can come in, take a look and we can either have a product in here for you or we can have something similar. We can have the customer service. We’re going to give you the book, what an item looks like, the finish, the design and we’ll be able to help you focus in on what your look is for your house.”
Lighting and accessories can change the entire look of your home, he said.
“We’re going to try to do our best to find the product that’s in your budget and the look that you are looking for, and we are going to try to serve those people in a way that makes it easier on them,” Brandon said. “That’s what’s awesome about here is we can sell you a light for $20 or we can sell you one for $20,000.”
Cummings Lighthouse also has good relationships with product representatives who can help.
“If we somehow don’t have the answer, we can get you the answer, we can get you in a range that you want and in a way that it’s going to help you so you take that stress off of you,” Brandon said. “We’re here to serve and to help in whatever capacity we can do.”
Some of the vendors were on hand for the ribbon cutting and open house along with store employees.
Stacie’s best friend, Amanda Doyle, is the general manager. Other employees include Donny Durham, Elizabeth Neal, Amy Sinkhorn and the Carters’ daughter, Samantha. Their son, Chase, also helps with various tasks.
Having family involved in the business is important to the Carters since the Goransons valued that, too.
“We wanted to make sure they knew how much we loved this place and the purpose of this place and that it was a family-type setting that’s a small-town feel,” Brandon said. “Even if we do expand, we still want to maintain that small-town feel, we still want to maintain that community feel and that family feel. We always want this place to reflect what they built.”
That’s a way to honor the Goransons and the hard work and sacrifice they put into the business, he said.
“It’s a tremendous place. I love the building, love the people, love the community. The community is amazing,” Brandon said. “The support has been tremendous. It was beyond anything that we could have imagined.”
Stacie said she has great pride in any change that’s made.
“Becky kind of taught me how to do it, and I was really close with her and she kind of mentored me,” she said. “She taught me everything that I know, so every change that we make, I think about her and I hope that she’s happy with the change I’ve made and proud of it.”
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Cummings Lighthouse is at 7462 N. U.S. 31, Seymour.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
For information, call 812-523-1034, visit cummingslighthouse.com or facebook.com/cummingslighthouse or email [email protected].