Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Northlake man makes Christmas bigger, better and brighter

Justin Lubbers lights up the holidays all over North Texas. (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

At some point before Christmas Eve, Justin Lubbers will finally break out the four or five boxes of tangled holiday lights in his garage and fire up the blow-up Santa to decorate his Northlake home.

His efforts will be minimal, though — and likely at the very last minute.

“You’d assume my house is always decked out, but I’m like the plumber who always has leaky pipes,” Lubbers said with a laugh. “At this very moment, I’m the Christmas lights guy without a single light on his own home. We will do something, but it will be minimal, and only after we’ve taken care of all of our customers.”

He added, “In the business I’m in — if you have time to decorate your own house, that means you’re not busy enough.”

With everyone’s favorite night of the year only a few weeks away, Lubbers, 32, has hit crunch time as Denton County’s go-to Christmas lights and decor specialist.

He started his company, Premier Christmas, 15 years ago and has gone from being just a kid with a truck and a ladder to standing side-by-side with a team of professionals who can tackle every holiday set-up imaginable.

This includes your basic three or four strands of lights job on a modest home in Flower Mound to large-scale projects at churches, shopping centers, malls, theme parks, and master-planned communities. And all of them demand thousands of twinkling lights, ornate wreaths, shimmering garland, animatronics, and custom decor such as 40- and 50-foot Christmas trees, 22-foot tall shining stars, bows and gift boxes that go on signs, and more.

Justin Lubbers’ Christmas light company decked the halls of The Shops at Willow Bend in Plano. (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

And it’s a year-round gig, too. Most major installations begin in early September, and as they get closer to showtime, Justin and his team are working 24-hour days. For the other nine months of the year, they are driving sales, designing and fabricating new projects, and even offering annual storage for reusable pieces.

“I get asked all the time what I do during the other 10 months of the year. I’m doing the same thing all year long,” Lubbers said. “The sky is the limit with what we have to offer, and we take the creativity and customization outside the box of your typical Christmas lights display. We are always pushing our displays to be bigger, better, and brighter. Everyone loves Christmas, especially Christmas lights. And I think people are craving that this year more so than any other year given the hardships that 2020 has presented.”

Perhaps no one loves the look and feel of a good Christmas lights display than Lubbers. Originally from Bullard, in East Texas, he watched his mother develop a passion for interior decorating of his childhood home. She captivated her young boy’s imagination with every choice she made, and having watched her for so many years, Justin fell in love with the idea of doing the same outside.

His first paying job was helping his neighbors string up their holiday lights. He was 14 at the time, and he did such a great job that one neighbor quickly turned into three, then four, and then seven and eight.

“It was $20 here and there, and it was fun,” Lubbers said.

At 16, he got his driver’s license and took out an ad in the local newspaper. More customers began calling, and to keep up with the demand, Lubbers hired friends and family. By the time he was in college at UNT, he was doing Christmas lights in between classes and had the makings of a very popular business on his hands.

“I got my degree in economics, but all the while, Christmas lights were helping fund my education,” he said. “It actually took me five years to graduate because I took a couple of fall semesters off so that I could do more lights.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Today, Lubbers has a team of roughly 30 year-round employees. An additional 20 are brought in for seasonal work, with the bulk of that crew having been with him for several years.

And there is plenty of work to go around. As Lubbers said, it takes a full year to design and fabricate what gets installed in October, November, and December. They try to have larger projects installed in October and November. By the time December rolls around, and families are ready to drive around town looking at lights, the team has everything powered up. They spend the rest of the month doing maintenance, quality checks, and taking on last-minute projects.

“We run a 24/7 operation from mid-October to December with day and night crews,” Lubbers said. “I have a phenomenal team beside me, and I want to make sure that is known because none of what we achieve each year would be possible without them. I would put our team up against anyone in the industry. They take just as much pride in what we do as I do. There’s a certain passion, work ethic, and drive that’s needed to get everything done in such a condensed time frame — and to do it the right way. It takes a lot of like-minded and talented people, and we have that here at Premier Christmas.”

You can see their work this month at Lakeside DFW, Harvest, Pecan Square, Bartonville Town Center, Flower Mound Town Center, Canyon Falls, Flower Mound Town Crossing, The Shops at Willow Bend and Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, to name a few.

“There is a tree on Brush Creek Road in Argyle that seems to draw a lot of attention as it is fully branch wrapped at a large estate. Can’t miss it.”

Does Lubbers get bored of doing nothing but Christmas lights year-round? No. Does he get tired? Absolutely. But the boy inside him still loves every bit of it. And don’t worry — he will muster up enough energy and time to get around to putting lights on his own home. After all, his wife, Kristen, and kids Mattie (4) and Henry (2) deserve the best, too.

“This is what I always knew I wanted to do. It’s been 15 years, and I still get excited every single year. I started doing this when I was 14, and it’s had my full focus and attention ever since,” Lubbers said.

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