Dekra-Lite Industries, Inc. – Santa Ana, California

May 30, 2024

Dekra-Lite Industries, Inc.

Celebrating 30 Years of Success


Key ESOP Strategies Brighten the Path Toward Growth at Dekra-Lite

For any company following the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)model, success requires a blend of high-level vision and employee empowerment. This is especially true for ESOPs that serve uncommon industries like Christmas decor and lighting.

It’s an industry that experiences significant seasonality, with most sales occurring during the holiday season. To compete, companies must manage inventory levels, production schedules, and staffing to meet peak demand while minimizing excess inventory and overhead costs during the off-season.

Among the many players in this sector, one company has dominated for over 30 years, Dekra-Lite Industries. Since its inception in 1987, this company has specialized in crafting incredible holiday ensembles for retailers, commercial properties, theme parks, and even cities across the country.

However, this company’s success isn’t just measured by the sparkle of ornaments and seasonal lights; it has also developed a captivating culture of warmth, celebration, and shared ownership in the 10 years it has been operating as an ESOP.

By staying ahead of the curve and diversifying its offerings, this company has captured new market after new market and sustained long-term growth. It has done an excellent job nurturing the organization’s roots through investing in training and development, fostering a sense of ownership among employees.

At Dekra-Lite the foundation of success lies in empowering every member of the team. When employees feel valued and engaged they become ambassadors for the brand, driving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Ultimately, this ESOP has excelled in outperforming its competition. It remains firmly tapped into winning consumer trends and has the structure in place to combat even the most problematic disruptions to an operation. Dekra-Lite is expanding its reach and creating magical experiences for its customers along the way.

More importantly, it’s doing all of this while cultivating a workplace environment where every employee feels like a cherished part of the holiday magic—a culture where success is measured not just in share prices, but in the smiles of satisfied customers.

From Seasonal Dreams to Year-Round ESOP Growth


Dekra-Lite with a simple dream: to enjoy the freedom of working only three months a year while still making enough to sustain for the remaining nine.

However, what started as a seasonal venture quickly evolved into a year-round business of lights and festivities. Founder Jeff Lopez soon realized that the holiday spirit driving his business could not be confined to just one season, and thus, Dekra-Lite Industries embarked on a journey of perpetual business.

As Lopez came closer and closer to retirement, the question of Dekra-Lite’s future arose. There were several options, but the ESOP model emerged as the optimal path due to its tax advantages.

Additionally, this exit strategy would allow Lopez to slowly transition out of the company while still leaving a legacy behind to the employees who helped build it from the ground up.

So, for the past 10 years, Dekra-Lite has leveraged the ESOP model to its advantage and has spared no expense when it comes to growing the company culture of shared ownership.

President Mike Sterling

“Ownership is where the bulk of our efforts go… the value of the ESOP is in the employees and the employees having an ownership stake gives them a good sense of that ownership and the community we’ve built around us,” says President Mike Sterling.

Thanks to the employee-owner model, Dekra-Lite stands out among its competition as a company that provides a level of dedication to customer satisfaction that goes beyond what’s considered standard in the industry.

When you’re talking to a Dekra-Lite employee, you’re often talking to an owner with a vested interest in ensuring that your needs as the customer are met. The company makes sure to meet the employee-owners’ needs, so naturally, that sentiment is carried forward into customer service.

“I think the ESOP Structure has made us an employer of choice,” says ESOP Advisor Adriana Penunuri, referring to the incredible appeal that the ESOP model establishes with potential employees.

“That’s one of the main reasons people look to stay longer with Dekra-Lite because they see the long-term benefit and annual statements when their ESOP value increases each year,” Penunuri explains.

A Culture of Celebration, Collaboration, and Competence

The ESOP structure at Dekra-Lite isn’t just about ownership—it’s about culture. While the rising ESOP share prices appeal to prospective employee owners, the real hidden factor behind the company’s appeal is its ability to foster community and a sense of belonging.

“We’re a holiday company to begin with. So, we get to celebrate all year long, working in an environment that’s highly decorated and has a lot of core festive presence to begin with,” Sterling says, citing the company’s consistently positive atmosphere as another big point of attraction to employee-owners.

Dekra-Lite attracts and retains top talent through upholding its commitment to community and employee empowerment, and that isn’t just a feel-good policy; it’s a strategic advantage that fuels growth and innovation.

Whether it’s a successful sale or a milestone reached, according to Sterling, every achievement is celebrated, fostering a culture of camaraderie and shared success.

Employees here aren’t just workers; they’re owners, collaborators, and torchbearers of the company’s festive spirit.

Dekra-Lite also does a fantastic job of empowering its employees through education and communication.

“I think transparent communication throughout every step of the process has been what has helped us with any type of implementation, but especially the ESOP,” Penunuri states, explaining that even when she joined the company back in 2016, the standard employee experience involved a multifaceted approach to communication where there was a lot of direct communication between employees and the company.

In addition to its stellar communication with its employee-owners, Dekra-Lite maintains strong relationships with key partners that help its operations flow smoothly.

“Some of our key partnerships are with installation subcontractors, suppliers we’ve worked with for many years, and the customers themselves,” Sterling says.

Dekra-Lite has both long-term vendors and customers whom they’ve worked with for over 30 years, and what that translates into is a company with strong retention that has the knowledge and support it needs to bring a solution to any customer at hand.

Lighting the Path to Future Goals and Expansion

As Dekra-Lite Industries looks to the future, expansion remains its main priority and according to Sterling, acquisition is the preferred method of achieving that.

“We’re excited to have just completed the acquisition of a small banner company out of San Diego,” Sterling says.

This latest acquisition, while not uncommon for an ESOP, was made with a specific goal in mind. Seeing as how Dekra-Lite’s first six months in the year are usually slower than the last six months, the banner company acquisition is intended to be a good way to bolster business during that time.

By expanding its marketing efforts and portfolio of acquired companies, Dekra-Lite aims to transform its slow months into seasons of opportunity.

Moreover, the company’s commitment to employee ownership remains steadfast. It’s looking to acquire other ESOP companies above all, ensuring that every new endeavor is infused with the same spirit of empowerment and celebration that has come to be known as the Dekra-Lite company culture.

Ultimately, Dekra-Lite is a full-service holiday decor company that doesn’t struggle to differentiate itself. It completes everything from the design to sale to the implementation of its service, and it does all of that while being fun and empowering for those who work there.

This company isn’t just in the business of lighting up spaces; it’s illuminating lives. Its services bring joy, laughter, and memories to communities nationwide.

But beyond the twinkling lights and festive ornaments lies a company driven by a shared sense of ownership, camaraderie, and celebration. A company that handles the customer with the utmost care and consistently invests in its employees’ bottom line.

By empowering its employees with education and transparent communication, it has truly turned itself into a workplace of collective passion and ambition.

Every day is a reason to celebrate at Dekra-Lite, and every employee-owner stands as a shining example of what happens when a work environment decides to give back to the employee.

As this company continues to grow as an ESOP,  things will only get better for its employees, and based on its recent acquisition, there is no doubt that the future of Dekra-Lite Industries is bright.

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Dekra-Lite Industries, Inc.

Where: Santa Ana, California

What: a trailblazer in the holiday decor and lighting industry, specializing in crafting stunning holiday ensembles for retailers, commercial properties, theme parks, and cities nationwide.



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