March 12, 2012 // Franchising.com // Tampa, FL - Despite their diverse career backgrounds, west Florida residents Scott Weber, Marc Soudijn and Haitham Charles have teamed up to open Florida’s first-ever franchised location of LED Source®, a company that supplies high-quality LED lighting products and specializes in full-scale evaluations and retrofits in both commercial and residential properties. Located at 402 Knights Run Avenue in Tampa, LED Source opens this month, servicing Hillsborough County. Charles, Soudijn and Weber signed on with LED Source to develop seven territories throughout Florida’s west coast, from Tarpon Springs to Naples.
A franchise law attorney for nearly 15 years, Weber represented a host of franchise systems from start-ups to international franchisors and individual franchisees through global law firm DLA Piper before later joining forces with Phelps Dunbar LLP, a world-renown law firm and franchise law giant. When Weber started working as general counsel for Marcel Fairbairn, president and CEO of LED Source in 2009, he immediately became hooked on the concept of energy-efficient LED lighting that could potentially save consumers and businesses thousands of dollars per year.
“Many franchisors have asked me the same question over and again—‘what’s your favorite franchise,’” Weber said. “I’ve evaluated numerous franchise models, and have worked with countless sellers of franchise systems, and this is one of the most compelling economic models I’ve seen in my career. I’ve always been very business-minded as a lawyer—here you are watching this flourishing franchise and you want to be a part of it.”
The eventual three-way business partnership began when Weber met Charles—who came to the U.S. in 2004 from his native U.K.—through a past business engagement. The two had remained close friends since. For several years Charles had been operating a successful construction-focused labor services business in west Florida when Weber approached him in 2011 with the idea to go into the LED lighting business. At that same time, Charles and Soudijn, who met through a soccer team they both played for, had been casually discussing buying a franchise together. Soujdin moved to the U.S. from Holland in 1982 and has since run a Florida-based citrus distribution company. Both of them interested in pursuing new and diverse business endeavors, the three of them began discussing joining the LED Source franchise.
“As a franchise attorney, Scott can be considered an expert,” Soudijn said. “After the three of us discussed the franchise opportunity with LED Source, I realized the huge potential of LED lighting as a new wave type of product that everyone from consumers to businesses can benefit from. So the three of us got together and took a boat trip and by the time we returned we were official business partners.”
Charles, who will serve as COO, Soudijn, who will serve as chief sales officer, and Weber, who will act as CEO for the Tampa franchise office, look forward to the new business opportunity. Although the business doesn’t officially open until mid-March, Weber is already working to secure sales through many of his long-term relationships in the franchising industry, educating them about the cost and energy savings associated with LED lighting.
“If you can demonstrate to a multi-unit chain restaurant operation that LED lighting is the way to go, you’ve already secured hundreds of customers in some cases,” Weber said. “I’m diving right in by taking an aggressive role helping franchisors develop national account programs with LED Source that will benefit their franchisees and increase sales in my territories.”
Bound together by their mutual newfound passion for LED lighting, LED Source’s newest business team plans to open their next territory based in St. Petersburg serving Pinellas County by the end of 2012, with future plans to grow south towards Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte Counties, and later from Ft. Myers down to Naples. They expect to hire 5-10 sales representatives per territory over the next few years as their business grows.