WML Employee Spotlight: Scott Derenburger

How long have you worked at Western Montana Lighting? What’s your job or title today? Have you always had this role at WML?

I started at Western Montana Lighting on January 2, 1980. I started working in the warehouse my senior year in high school, doing repairs, unloading freight, and I snuck my way up to working on the floor.

Scott Derenger - WML Employee SpotlightTitle? I am the God of Lights! When we had to pick an email address, that’s what I chose, because that’s what I’ve become.

How long have you lived in Missoula?

I was born in Miles City and my parents moved to Missoula when I was two. Does that make me a native yet?

What certifications have you earned or expertise have you gained over the years?

My certification is my 38 years of experience. You can’t replicate that by sitting in a class for two days. Local builders trust me and recommend me to their clients, because I’ve created strong relationships by being honest and dependable.

I had a client from Seattle who was remodeling a home in Montana and asked me for credentials. Around here, trust is built on word-of-mouth and a handshake, but I went to five other clients who all had similar high-end projects and they gave him the references he wanted.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I’m a problem solver. I love teaching others and I love helping customers. I get to do all of these things in my job. I love being the expert that people come to when they have a tricky space they don’t know how to light well, or when they have a structural challenge that needs a customized solution.

Most people don’t realize that if they make an appointment to come see me, we’ll be able to be more effective and come up with the best way to light their home. I love developing relationships with customers, working with them, and they don’t realize that it doesn’t cost them anything extra to have me working closely with them. They buy lighting from us at the end, but until that point, all my expertise is given for free. I put in hours working on a project before they have to write a check and it’s totally worth it to see it all turn out well in the end.

Tell us a memorable story about working at Western Montana Lighting.

I’ve gotten to work on some really complex, interesting, high-end homes around Montana – vacation homes at Georgetown and Flathead, Triple Creek Guest Ranch, the home of a guy from Metallica. What’s really special is when the owners are involved and thoughtful. A few times, they’ve thrown barbeques or parties for all the contractors when the home is done.

One time, I was called in to work on a home up at Flathead Lake that already had lighting installed. The architect had picked it, but the owners weren’t thrilled about it. I came in, took one look, and said to them, “It’s because it blocks the view of the lake, isn’t it?” And yeah, that was it! The lighting would’ve been perfect if the backdrop had been a wall, but the architect didn’t factor in that the background was a stunning view of the lake. So we came up with a new solution that lit the space perfectly, but didn’t distract or block the view, which was really the whole point of the home.

Please share your top lighting tip or secret.

Size and proportion matter, and you can’t figure that out looking at lighting online. 40% of lighting purchased online is returned or exchanged. That’s not the case for us, because it’s all tailored specifically to a client’s home and we’re working with them every step of the way.

So the secret is to give us a call, make an appointment, and come see me!