When Bill Kilgus was a kid, he looked forward to Christmas for all the usual reasons. It was even better when he spent time with his father, stringing old-fashioned lights across the rooflines of his home and his neighbors’ homes. Fast-forward a few years. He’s now the owner and founder of Trimmers Holiday Décor, a company with five franchises in Collier, Lee, Sarasota, Manatee and Pasco counties that handles all kinds of holiday decorating, from wreaths to trees to life-size snowmen.
What are some of your biggest jobs? The Third Street South shopping area, all the Orion Banks in Florida, Pelican Bay, Tiburón, Grey Oaks and The Strand.
What is the usual price range for a residence? A normal one is $1,000 to $5,000. That includes everything: We design all the décor, put it up and maintain it. Our company goes by our jobs Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights [during] December to make sure everything is perfect.
Normally there is nothing wrong, but sometimes you might have to hop out, fix a set of lights, hop back in and move onto the next job.
How long does it take to complete a job? Normally we can do the décor on any community in one day or less, but it may take multiple days to do all of the large tree lighting.
How many lights do you put up each year? I install 40,000 sets of lights. My franchises install 10,000 sets each.
Do you work year-round? It’s [mostly] for the holidays, but we do large landscape lighting [year-round]. A lot of the communities and Third Street South now like to keep their large palm trees lit [throughout the year].
Has the demand for your services changed with the downturn of the economy? There’s [still] a good demand for it. There seems to be a lot of competition, too. Once we started the outdoor lighting, after a couple years, everybody wanted to jump on the bandwagon. Everybody seems to think it’s a lot easier than it is; even my franchisees when they buy the franchise. Once they get into it they can’t believe how much work it is, from a labor standpoint, and you only have a short time to do all the work.
What do you do to give back to the community? This year we’re donating large wreaths for the front of all the fire department buildings in Collier County. We decorate some churches as well. Two years ago, a woman called us and said her husband likes to do the Christmas lighting outside of their home, but he had [been diagnosed with] cancer and wasn’t capable anymore, so we went and did their home. Last Christmas, someone called me and said her daughter was coming back from Iraq, so of course we went and said, "Tell your daughter ‘thank you very much,’ and there’s no charge for this."
What’s the best part about your job? You get to see the final result [quickly], but what I really enjoy the most is the charity work. And we have June and July off. That’s a big bonus.