Houston-based Neutex LED Lighting plans to expand to 25 new markets by 2016, but it won't be easy.
Rather than expand into markets where demand for LED is high, Neutex, a provider of energy-efficient lighting design and manufacturing, is looking to open franchises in areas that aren’t as educated in “green” lighting, said John Higgins, president and CEO. Last year, Neutex opened two satellite offices in Mississippi and New York, which Higgins described as difficult markets to tap into. “We started with a hard market to set ourselves up in so we would run up against all of the hardest potential issues that we would have for the expansion,” Higgins said. “We don’t always go for the low-hanging fruit. We go for the harder-to-pick fruit that makes the low fruit easier to get.” Higgins said this approach has worked well for the company. “When you are successful in those markets, you become the brand,” Higgins added. The company recently expanded its headquarters near George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Higgins said that it is also aggressively looking to hire new employees, although he did not disclose a number. However, in 2011, Neutex considered closing its doors. That year, the company moved its manufacturing operations from China back to Houston. Higgins said Neutex expected to receive tax breaks for bringing an energy-efficient company and jobs back to the U.S. But the company never received those incentives, which forced it to rely entirely on private funding. Higgins attributes his company’s breakthrough to the wider acceptance of LED lighting and the company’s recent project with the Houston Airport System. In 2014, Neutex was contracted to replace the old sodium lighting fixtures at IAH’s parking garage with new LED lights that are 70-80 percent more energy-efficient. Higgins said the EcoPark garage helped give the company more publicity. Though the company had major deals in Pennsylvania and Florida as well, Higgins said the Houston project is what set them apart. “It’s great because everybody parks there,” Higgins said. “It really is a huge showpiece for us. We believe we made it a showpiece for the airport too.” This is Neutex’s first year on HBJ’s Fast 100 List. For the next several weeks, HBJ will introduce you to the Houston area’s 100 fastest-growing private companies based on revenue growth from 2012 to 2014 — culminating in our Houston Fast 100 Awards. Our blogs will present the companies in random order, and the rankings and revenue growth for each company will be revealed at our event on Sept. 17. Click here to register for the event. The rankings will also be listed in a special section of the Houston Business Journal’s Sept. 18 weekly edition. Click here to subscribe. Continue to follow our blogs every day on HoustonBusinessJournal.com, and click here to see all the Fast 100 finalists in alphabetical order.