- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) - ‘Tis the season for lights and décor.

Ronald Layman said he drove his dad crazy when he was growing up in Walkersville, always buying more lights to decorate for Christmas.

“It’s part of the fun,” he said.

Layman now runs Frederick-based Christmas decorating business, The King of Christmas. He said the business, which he founded about nine years ago, decorates everything from residences to commercial properties. One of his more well-known clients is Volt restaurant in downtown Frederick. He puts up about half a million lights annually for Ski Liberty in Fairfield, Pennsylvania.

“Every day is something different. Every day is fun,” he said.

Christmas decorating businesses start gearing up months before Christmas, stringing lights and putting up trees. Christmas Decor, based out of Myersville, started its season at the end of October, owner Roy Good said.

Good said some of the well-known places he decorates are John T. Williams Funeral Home in Brunswick and author Nora Roberts’ Inn BoonsBoro on the inside and outside.

Both Good and Layman said there are clients who want decorations put up before Thanksgiving.

“There’s so many people that want them up, so that when they’re finished eating their Thanksgiving dinner and they’ve washed the last plate, they’re going to turn the Christmas lights on,” Good said.

This is Good’s 16th Christmas season running Christmas Decor, a franchise based out of Dallas. He used to only do hedge trimming and snow removal, but that was hit or miss for business. Now Christmas decorating is about a tenth of what he does, he said.

“You spend all that money being ready, but if it doesn’t snow, there’s no revenue,” he said. “Christmas comes every year and everybody is happy.”

He said franchising was a good option for him. The franchise provides training and news on the industry throughout the year, as well as technical support and software. According to Christmas Decor’s website, the average gross sales for a franchisee after three years in operation is $194,786.

But for some Christmas decorators, it was just a way to get out into the community.

This was the first year Rick Jones Electric explored the Christmas lights industry, lead electrician Doug Powell said. The electric company put up Christmas lights on businesses for the Downtown Frederick Partnership.

Powell said that by lining the windows and doorways of the about 15 to 20 storefronts, the company got the chance to talk to people and business owners in the area. And its niche audience is small businesses downtown.

“Exterior Christmas lights is just a fun added bonus that we didn’t want to pass up,” he said.

When Rick Jones Electric employees were hanging lights on Nov. 18, they thought it would be fun to wear rented bear costumes while decorating.

“We really enjoyed ourselves,” he said. “We were honored to be asked to do it. It was a great opportunity for us to get out there.”

Layman said he likes when they get to do something special for clients, such as a custom yard display of cartoon character Peppa Pig for a client’s son. The company also decorated a tree in Silver Spring that a neighborhood has been decorating for more than 80 years. This was the first time the neighborhood hired a company to do the decorating.

“You’re kind of being a part of the history,” he said. “When you turn those lights on for the first time, you see them get a little more into the Christmas spirit.”

And he said people recognize the brand King of Christmas when he’s wearing his work jacket and say hi. He’s considered making the brand a franchise, he said.

Layman said he enjoys giving people jobs during the holidays and the same employees tend to return year after year.

“The whole thing is a great experience,” he said.

___

Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, https://www.fredericknewspost.com


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