By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – As the holidays loom near everyone is reminded it’s that special time of year for Christmas lights….and gutters.
It’s a busy time for gutter installation professionals to clear out gutters stuffed with leaves, and while they’re on the roof, some offer Christmas lights installation.
Chase Welty owns Mr. Gutter Service in Yukon, but he has crews stringing Christmas lights for at least 65 homes and businesses.
“We schedule those out and we can usually do four or five a day. We’ll do the trees, porches, fences, whatever the customer wants,” he said.
His customers are often too busy or physically unable to string the Christmas lights. More than a few dads who have given up on the effort give him a call.
“Our customers are everybody, really. What we say is we have a lot of people who have that (holiday) feeling, but dad starts out with his family to help him and ends up on the roof frustrated and doing it by himself,” Welt said.
Bryan Dunn and Virginia Lance are one of Welty’s installation crews. Lance said they do see a lot of older customers, including an elderly woman whose grandchildren used to install her lights for her.
“One of them fell off the roof in front of her at the door,” she said. “She didn’t want them to get hurt. We get on the roof all the time. We’re comfortable up here.”
Dunn said their customers vary, but “you don’t see them in their 20s calling us, unless they’re too busy to do it themselves.”
Welty’s crews go the extra mile to keep customers happy. Lance said they had a homeowner who wanted to surprise her husband, retired from the Navy, with an all blue lights display.
“We got there when he wasn’t home. We were kind of worried it wouldn’t work out, but by the time he got back we were just finishing up. He was really happy to see it,” she said.
The cost of installation depends on the linear foot and the complexity and after the first installation, next year the price drops by 40 percent.
“Most people want the front of the house done, and usually that’s around $400 and we charge $25 for a timer. Because we reuse the lights next year, we give them a 40 percent discount. If the bulbs go out, we just replace them. It’s one continuous line of lights so there’s only one chord connected to one outlet,” Welty said.
Crews use a spool of electrical cord for lights, then screw in the bulbs to the cord once the length has been cut according to the plan for the home.
The installation also includes tear down.
“We schedule the tear down when we come out to give them an estimate. If they buy, we schedule it right then and we do that within the first two weeks of January. No more having your lights on the house in March. We store the lights with the customer’s name on it in a secure facility. Next year, we bring them out and set it up,” Welty explained.
A first-time installation takes about two hours, depending on the length of cord and the items that need to be wrapped. The next year, the install is about an hour because they have the bulbs installed on the cord and know the pattern of setup for the home.
Just before Halloween the calls trickle in, but after Halloween the crews are busy setting up the lights show for their clients. They stay busy through the first two weeks of December. Crews serve a wide area, travelling through the Oklahoma City metro area, Canadian County, and Kingfisher County.
Customers can request any variation of colored lights they prefer. Red and pink, purple and blue, red, green and white are most common.
Dunn said he enjoys the work and the customers.
“The homeowners are always nice and they’re happy with the work,” he said.