Sunday, Sep 23, 2018
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Michigan business lights up homes, spreads holiday cheer

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    Petersburg, Mich. business Kings of Christmas can decorate trees, some as tall as 30 feet, for $500.

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    Kings of Christmas, out of Petersburg, Mich., will decorate any size house to the owner’s specifications. The start-up company decorated 50 homes in 2½ months, and the prices ranged from $500 to $60,000.

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For all the time he spends on rooftops during the holiday season, Josh Salley should be accompanied by reindeer.

But likely they would just be in the way, unless of course, the homeowner would like him to put lights on the antlered critters.

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Petersburg, Mich. business Kings of Christmas can decorate trees, some as tall as 30 feet, for $500.

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As the co-owner of Kings of Christmas, a holiday lighting start-up, the Dundee, Mich., resident has been busy putting lights on houses, trees, bushes, candy canes, and yes, even reindeer, the past three months in southeast Michigan and the Toledo area.

“We started in October and we just wrapped up this week,” said Mr. Salley, who co-owns the business with a partner, Bobby Barta. “Next month, we’ll start taking it all down and storing it for [customers].”

The past five years, Mr. Salley worked for another firm in Michigan installing holiday lights for customers. He figured he had learned enough about the business, so he and Mr. Barta formed their own company this year and we’re surprised by how much demand their was, having decorated 50 homes in just 2½ months.

“A lot of people are too busy now, so they pay to get everything done. And then there’s others that don’t want to get their hands dirty or get on a ladder,” Mr. Salley said. “The older people love lights for the grandkids but they don’t want to get up on the roof when its wet.”

But Kings of Christmas, with an office located in Petersburg, Mich., will have its two to five-man crew get on the roof, use ladders and pole, and even use a lift truck for high hard-to-reach spots, like 30-foot tall trees.

“It’s cold, it’s wet, and it could be snowing, but we’ll go up. Typically 95 percent of our work is done with ladders, but we [use] our lift when needed,” Mr. Salley said, who spends the rest of the year making machines that will split logs for home use.

Lighting jobs this year have ranged from $500 up to $60,000. One house in Ypsilanti, Mich., that Mr. Salley and his crew decorate, took 3½ weeks, and required more than 250,000 lights.

The home, trees, and yard were decorated, and the lights were all synced to music.

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Kings of Christmas, out of Petersburg, Mich., will decorate any size house to the owner’s specifications. The start-up company decorated 50 homes in 2½ months, and the prices ranged from $500 to $60,000.

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“We suggest what our recommendation is, but we customize each house to the owner’s ideas. It’s their option on their colors, and normally we’re asked to do an outline of the house and do the trees,” Mr. Salley said. “But we will do animation — program the lights to Christmas songs — and we’ll do other things like trees that dance and candy canes. We offer all that other stuff and we have a [fabricating] shop where we can custom make anything.”

Customers usually want mega-trees, candy canes, and archways. A tree can be decorated for $500, an average-size house for $1,800 to $2,200.

If that seems like a steep price — “People will often say to me, ‘I didn’t expect to pay that much,’” said Mr. Salley — it is because of the lighting Kings of Christmas provides.

Only commercial-grade LED lights are used by Mr. Salley and Mr. Barta. Because LEDs draw so little power, they can run 86,000 LED bulbs from one electric socket.

“Our stuff is fully-tested. You go to the box store and that stuff isn’t close. It’s like a Honda or a Kia compared to a Mercedes Benz,” Mr. Salley said.

Because they want dependability, they won’t risk using existing lights an owner might try to provide.

“We have our own stuff and we know it works. We just tell them, ‘We don’t do that other stuff,’” Mr. Salley said.

Contact Jon Chavez at jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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