The Lighting Agency has been an industry leader for over forty years for one reason: our people. Whether you’re a friend of the company, a valued client, or just learning about who we are and what we do, you’re invited to follow along for a three-part series spotlighting Team TLA’s incredible managers. Click here to read Team TLA Lighting Managers Spotlight Part One.
We have the industry’s best Controls Managers Team, and they’re ready to introduce themselves and reveal the passion, expertise, commitment, and fun they bring to their roles as leaders and the continued success of our company.
“If it weren’t for Rob Pries, we wouldn’t have the amazing controls department we have today. Rob has a passion and knowledge base for lighting controls that is unmatched and has grown this department to one of the best, if not the best, controls groups in the country. He is a great leader and visionary and is always looking to improve and grow this department in a direction that is admired by all agents around the country.”
— Ryan Stewart, Principal
Introducing Rob Pries: The original TLA Controls guru with a multi-faceted engineering background, TLA Associate and Controls Manager
I am a Colorado Native. I grew up in Aurora until 7th grade, moved to Arvada, married my wife Jill, and raised our 4 kids in Broomfield until 2017 when we moved to a Log House in the mountains of Gilpin County at 9100’, near Golden Gate State Park.
I was formally trained as a recording engineer, played music around the country, and lived & toured in Australia before getting my Masters Electrical Lic. and settling down to work in construction. When that slowed down in the early ’90s, I took a job with the D.O.E. (Department of Energy) at Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant in the Alarms & Surveillance department, where my interest in low-voltage electronics and computers & communications was sparked.
During this time, I went to college, nights at Regis University for a degree in Computer Information Systems and Business, completed several electronics classes, & taught electronics at Front Range Community College. After 5 years, I left D.O.E to start a home automation business where we designed and installed lighting controls, security, CCTV, Audio & Theaters in high-end residences. Things went well until the mortgage crisis in 2008 after which all residential building came to a complete stand-still. During this dark time in America’s financial history, and certainly a dark time in my business, a friend suggested I speak to Art, Jason & Shane Fisher at the Lighting Agency because they had plans to start up a lighting controls division. The rest was history.
I currently maintain a Colorado Master Electrician Lic. and an Electrical Contracting Lic. for Connect Solutions Group. I also have an FCC (GROL) General Radio-Telephone License, which allows me to operate, calibrate, and service commercial radio transmitters as well as to work on broadcast radio equipment
It has been an absolute thrill helping to build the Lighting Controls Division with the best Lighting Mfg. Rep around. TLA has the most amazing owners & employees, and I can’t imagine working anywhere else. It has been a big challenge to constantly innovate & lead the industry. However, TLA has some very formidable competition in both Lighting and Controls since one of our biggest competitors was formed by former TLA employees.
My strengths as a leader have always been to fully understand and utilize each team member’s talent and communicate well with our team while remembering one of Art Fisher’s sayings; “In order to succeed, everyone must get in the boat and row-like-hell!”
“Nick is one of the hardest workers I have ever met. Not only does he work hard, he works efficiently and effectively and always has a great attitude. He is always willing to work with clients and help them put together a great controls design for their project. He is constantly going the extra mile with everything he does and I know that our clients appreciate this more than anything. We are extremely grateful to have him as our Controls Sales Manager!”
— Ryan Stewart, Principal
Introducing Nick Berry: TLA’s Denver native, CU Architectural Engineering graduate, quick-problem-solving Controls Sales Manager
Hi, I’m Nick. A Denver, Colorado Native who was born in Rose Hospital just down the street from the TLA offices. I earned my Architectural Engineering Degree from CU Boulder before joining TLA in February of 2010 (which now accounts for 1/3 of my life!).
Being from CU Boulder in their Arch-E program, I knew all about The Lighting Agency. When I graduated, one of my good friends was working with the group already, so I knew I wanted to interview and work for this team. I was fortunate enough to be hired and have enjoyed the journey ever since (I only made Art fall asleep for half my interview—wink, wink).
I love the problem-solving that comes with my job. When a problem set arises, there is always a solution to be had. I love finding that solution and path to take, I love finding that solution QUICKLY, and I love the customer service that comes with getting through a tough spot fast and with a smile.
In our line of work, there are a TON of moving parts—multiple jobs at once, multiple requests at the same time, and ever-evolving timelines – I think the most difficult part can be keeping all those plates spinning properly. However, at TLA and in our Controls Department, we pride ourselves on always finding ways to get the job done, get the job done right, and ensure a happy customer base.
As a controls department, we have just such an amazing family. I am honored to be considered a leader in this group and plan to bring positive energy and a positive attitude to the workplace every day. We are eager to continue to grow our department regarding how we deliver work and service to our customers. We strive to be the BEST in every aspect and will never stop evolving to ensure we continue to set the bar high for our industry.
There is nothing we can’t accomplish with the right teamwork. As a company and an industry, the small things we do as a team every day achieve stunning results.
“Zach is one of the most technically savvy individuals you will ever meet. He’s the complete package; extremely intelligent, dedicated, friendly, loyal and driven to, educate and motivate his team. He helps makes TLA & CSG run like a Swiss watch”
— Rob Pries, TLA Associate and Controls Manager
Introducing Zach Navarro: TLA’s first controls tech with a lifetime of electrical expertise, CSG Manager
My name is Zach Navarro, and I’m the manager for TLA’s technical services arm, Connect Solutions Group. I’m a Colorado Native and have spent most of my career working up and down the front range. I became an electrical apprentice the same year I graduated High School in 2004. I spent 2 years working on new industrial and commercial building projects before becoming a service apprentice. I became a Journeyman electrician in 2009 and worked as a service electrician for a local Colorado company.
In 2010, I became a factory-certified startup tech for one of the major lighting controls manufacturers and eventually took a job doing lighting control startups around the nation. During this time, I met Rob Pries, who had just started TLA’s controls department. When Rob and the TLA leadership team decided that they needed an in-house controls tech, they called me, and in 2012, I joined the TLA team as their first controls/startup tech.
Fast forward to the present day, and I now have the privilege of training and sharing more than a decade’s worth of knowledge and experience with the next generation of controls techs. I am now responsible for 8 techs with different levels of experience and training and for keeping CSG running at peak efficiency.
The thing I love most about TLA is the culture we have and people we get to work with. We are a very team-oriented company, making it fun to come to work. One of our industry’s biggest challenges is that controls systems are getting increasingly more complicated and advanced as time goes on, so to be successful, we are constantly learning and growing with our systems. I feel that I am particularly well suited to my role as a manager because as I raised my oldest daughter to adulthood, I learned how to be patient and sympathetic towards the younger generations, and I learned how to convey complex information to them in a way that is meaningful to them. Together with the other senior techs, I am trying to develop the next generation of controls experts who will shape the future of our industry.
Corey is an “Engineers’ Engineer,’ very detail oriented, and rest assured, nothing gets past him. Corey has managed some of our largest projects with ease, and always with grace. TLA is very lucky to have Corey on our team and now leading our Controls PM department.”
— Rob Pries, TLA Associate and Controls Manager
Introducing Corey Rath: Our third Controls Department hire with enough attention to detail to impress even Bob Hawkins, Lighting Controls Project Manager
Hello everyone! My name is Corey Rath and am TLA’s new Lighting Control Project Manager.
I was born in North Dakota but have spent most of my life in Colorado. After graduating high school, I went to school for Computer Aided Design. Once out of college, I landed an electrical drafting position at M-E Engineers and worked my way up to an Electrical Designer. After 6 years with M-E, I moved to a position at another engineering firm and enjoyed working with them and growing my knowledge & skills for another 6 years until they, unfortunately, had to close their doors.
Since I had worked with TLA’s Ryan Stewart and Bob Hawkins on numerous projects, I reached out to them for possible engineer contacts. The leads weren’t panning out until one day Bob called me and put me on the phone with my current boss, Rob Pries, the Controls Manager at TLA. Now 12yrs later as employee #3 in our controls department, I have moved into a management role. I feel my attention to detail on my projects will aid the rest of our amazing controls team to be the best controls team in Denver.
I look forward to continuing to work with all our amazing engineers, distributors, and electrical contractors as a team and striving to be their number 1 choice for lighting and controls.
Aaron is a Superstar at delivering customer support at a very high level. He understands our customers’ pain points and consistently uses his skill and knowledge to bridge the gaps that often occur in project-vendor-contractor challenges. He is able to quickly assess a situation and come up with a game-plan while in full stride. Our industry needs more people like Aaron and we are extremely fortunate to have him on our team.
— Rob Pries, TLA Associate and Controls Manager
Introducing Aaron Franks, a 4th generation Colorado native with a multi-dimensional view of lighting design, Controls Quotations Manager
Hi, I’m Aaron Franks, a 4th Generation Coloradan who was born in Grand Junction and raised in Littleton. I graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in Architectural Engineering and an Emphasis in Lighting.
I joined TLA immediately after graduating college in 2014, and I love seeing the palate of projects that comes across my desk. TLA’s connections across Colorado’s construction industry allow visibility for virtually every new project in the state. This job gives me the opportunity to contribute to these new projects and leave a legacy in this rich design community. Seeing my ideas on paper turn into a reality is such a rewarding experience.
The pace in which energy code advances demands that we must adapt to how we control lights in a space. Being an expert in the lighting control field dictates that you must know which tool you need to use and when. In addition, you must optimize your tools to get the customer the best solution economically. My education, training, and experience at the agency allow me to view problems from several perspectives. I have a grasp of our team’s strengths and apply them to best suit every unique job.
Here’s to Team TLA!
Thank you for joining us for Part Two of the Team TLA Managers spotlight. There will be more team spotlights around the corner. In the meantime, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and subscribe to the TLA Newsletter to see more about our dynamic team of industry-leading managers.