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.
Welcome to Part Three of our TLA Managers Spotlight! This installment is short but sweet and features two managers who have stepped into new roles this year.
“My favorite thing about Michael is that I can call him any time to bounce ideas off him. He is extremely smart and knowledgeable about lighting and more importantly, business.
I’m excited to have him as an Associate and I’m looking forward to seeing him grow the business in Colorado Springs. We’re lucky to have someone like him on our team!”
— Ryan Stewart, Principal
Introducing Michael Smoot: Fearless leader of our incredible Colorado Springs team, TLA Associate, and TLA South Manager
Hello! My name is Michael Smoot, and I am the manager for The Lighting Agency South. I was born in Southern California and mostly grew up there, spending a few childhood years in Texas and Florida.
I started my lighting career as a lighting controls specialist in Las Vegas where I received a crash course in the industry. With the support of good mentors, I was soon tackling lighting control projects all around Las Vegas, even some of the newest hotels and casinos. Along with Lighting Controls came daylighting responsibility using skylights and tubular daylight devices, where I assisted our customers and coworkers with the layout and implantation of these devices.
I was first introduced to The Lighting Agency during a manufacturer’s lighting controls training where I met Rob Pries, who was just starting the lighting controls department there. A couple of years later a good friend introduced me to Art, Jason, & Shane Fisher. Having been to Colorado a few times to visit my brother stationed at Fort Carson, I embraced the opportunity to move here and work at a dynamic agency in the Spring of 2010.
Based out of Colorado Springs, TLAS’ territory of responsibility includes Southern and Western Colorado, giving us the opportunity to work with a broad spectrum of customers. As a manager, I strive to empower my coworkers to grow individually, as well as in a team, by facilitating an environment where each person can take ownership of their work.
Differing complexities on every job, the continual advancement of technology, and the ongoing evolution of energy code requirements create daily challenges in the lighting industry. How we can meet and overcome these challenges as a team must be one of my favorite experiences.
“I was a little hesitant to hire another Ryan at TLA but it’s really worked out. Ryan is very thoughtful and thorough in everything he does. It’s great having someone like that on our team, especially in the Inside Sales Department, where details really matter the most.
I look forward to working with Ryan more in the future and seeing where he takes this department.”
— Ryan Stewart, Principal
Introducing Ryan Tiffany: TLA’s “new kid on the block” with over 20 years of managerial experience, Inside Lighting Sales Manager
I was born and largely raised in Saint Louis, Missouri. I have lived in numerous places around Saint Louis city and county, Rolla, Missouri, Urbana/Champaign, Illinois, South Carolina, Louisiana, and northern Colorado (Greeley), and relocated to Denver in 2009 where I have lived since.
I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Missouri, Saint Louis in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre (with an emphasis in Lighting), and a minor in Communications. My previous certifications/licenses/memberships were all in the Production community and did not transfer into the world of architectural lighting. However, I have several opportunities for continued education and growth on the horizon, and intend to pursue those opportunities to the fullest!
I joined the TLA team in April of 2021. Still in the throes of the Covid pandemic, work was remote full-time. We began transitioning back into the office in July of that year. I am thankful to Emily Whitney for referring me to TLA based on our previous work experience together.
True story: for the video interview with the Principals, I dressed in a full suit while sitting in my living room on a video call. It was necessary for me at one point to stand up to confirm that I was indeed wearing suit pants, which luckily, I was! While I’m not certain that’s what landed me the position, it certainly was funny.
My favorite thing about my job is working with light. It is a highly specialized skill set that incorporates both the science of light and optics along with the creativity of a designer who paints with light. I have always been enamored with the confluence of science and art and working with light suits that fascination for me. While the science of light helps us understand how to properly light a space for utilitarian purposes, it is the creativity and the artistry in design that addresses how those spaces make us feel – how we interact with light, how it guides us, and how evocative lighting can be.
The biggest challenges working in the lighting industry lately have been supply chain issues and inflation. Lead times have been challenging and in constant flux and price changes (increases) have also been challenging – especially for existing projects which have already been quoted.
For me, personally, the challenge has been to transition my knowledge of lighting from the world of event production into architecture. I have learned an immense amount since starting with TLA and continue to learn new things daily.
I bring a great deal of managerial and leadership experience to my role. My first management position was 20 years ago, and I have had many others since. I strive to be flexible as a manager – both approachable and personal with my team, but also firm and unyielding when appropriate.
I find that management is a balancing act of those approaches, and the most successful managers can walk that line. I am methodical and deliberate about my professional approach to people as well as projects and I find that I always have a plan developing in my mind for how to best address whatever challenges arise in front of me.
I look through problems to see the solution on the other side and make steps toward that solution rather than dwell on the problem itself. Every challenge Is an opportunity for growth.
Thank you for joining us for Part Three of the Team TLA Managers spotlight. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and subscribe to the TLA Newsletter for updates about our dynamic team!