As Dominion Electric re-opened its doors to the Arlington Community last month, LHA’s Communications Manager, Maia Potok-Holmes, sat down with Matthew Rowan, Vice President, to discuss the showroom’s renovation, learn what customers can expect in coming weeks, and talk about that paint color everyone on Lee Highway is talking about.
Maia Potok-Holmes: Thank you so much for talking with me today, Matt.
Matthew Rowan: It’s my pleasure!
MPH: So, let’s get straight to it. How did you come to Dominion Electric?
MR: I have a design background. I’m an industrial designer by training. I’ve worked in architecture and interior firms as an internal specialist on a lot of the user experience stuff – like graphics, lighting, signage – all the stuff that was really high touch point items. I was working for Gensler, leading their studio in the DC office when Dominion’s CEO came to us and said “we need to re-envision, we need to do something totally different.” We came up with the overall approach and design scheme – we even had our consulting team come out and watch people work for a day. And then he offered me this job (laughs) which I wasn’t looking for – and I didn’t even realize he was offering me a job at first – I originally turned him down, because I loved working with my team, but he was persistent and brought me over. One of the first things he told me was “question and change everything.”
MPH: Why did Dominion want to conduct a total re-design and renovation?
MR: It’s not just about selling things anymore. Now that we have the internet, people can immediately search anything, you can see all the products that you want; the problem is, lighting can be complex. And when you’re investing thousands of dollars in fixture you want to see it in person. So, there’s a huge place for showrooms, we just weren’t providing that experience. We wanted to become a trusted advisor rather than just selling things.
MPH: How did you approach that process? How are you incorporating those things into the showroom?
MR: I wanted to re-envision the experience of the customer. To utilize every space in the showroom to create an experience and showcase our products, which is exactly what we’re doing now – even the public restrooms and our offices are being used as display areas. We’ve also become more display based, showing vignettes – offices, living room, kitchen, outdoor garden, bathroom, dining room, etc.
MPH: Is re-branding a part of this re-design process?
MR: Yes, in addition to re-doing the entire showroom, we’re undergoing a full rebrand. We’ve been talking about completely changing the vision and values of the company, we have a new logo and website [not yet released], new swag and business cards – and we’re starting to use the name “Dominion Light” for our residential business. It better describes the kind of work we do and speaks more to the high-end retail audience we’re looking for.
MPH: How do you see this renovation and rebranding as a part of the ongoing Plan Lee Highway project?
MR: As a designer, my passion and purpose is to continue improving and growing things. That’s an exciting aspect about this renovation – being a part of the growth and development of the Lee Highway community. If what we’re doing here can rub off and help someone a mile away, that’s great. The goal is to make things better for everyone that lives here.
MPH: Are there ways Dominion is hoping to engage with the greater Lee Highway community?
MR: Yes! We will be opening the space up to the community for events, meetings, etc. We want to deepen the roots Dominion has with the community.
MPH: Going back to the renovation quickly – can you talk about painting the exterior of the building? I know that was a big change.
MR: I was really worried at first about painting the exterior of the building, because I know change can be hard for a lot of people, but the response has been amazing. We receive calls from people in the neighborhood all the time asking about the paint color.
MPH: Can I ask what the paint color is, for those who want to know?
MR: (Laughs) Of course, it’s Benjamin Moore, Witching Hour.
MPH: It’s been so great to chat with you, thanks so much Matt.
MR: My pleasure Maia. Come back soon.
In addition to all Maia discussed with Rowan, customers can expect to learn about, play with, and purchase voice command lighting (they have a whole room dedicated to it!), to test out different types of light bulbs (look out for their wall of bulbs), and to shop specialized, seasonal furniture and custom made lamp shades and chandeliers.
With half its space already renovated, Dominion Lighting is currently open to the public, and is set to open its doors fully in May.