Glowing Service

November 2018 View more

By Annemarie Mannion

If the holiday season doesn’t bring joyful anticipation of the sight of lights twinkling in the dark night—and instead conjures images of struggling to untangle light strands, hurrying to the store to replace broken bulbs, or precariously climbing a ladder—it may be time to call to Jeff Krall, owner of Woodridge-based American Holiday Lights (6813 Hobson Valley Drive,

Krall founded the company 10 years ago to help people illuminate the exteriors of their homes, without having to worry about purchasing or retrieving lights and decorations from a musty attic, or even turning their displays on and off each day. The busy season for the company is between Halloween and the early part of January.

“I thought there was a market for people who wanted to have their Christmas lights put up,” says Krall. “I also own a roofing company, so it was a natural extension of that.”

Krall’s hunch was right. A lot of people want to have a festive look for their homes, but don’t want the hassle of putting the lights up themselves. He estimates that he installs lights on 35 houses a day during November and December, his busiest time of the year.

“People want convenience,” he says. “They want to pay for it and get it done.”

An employee of Krall’s company meets with homeowners to help them decide on a design for their exterior seasonal lights.

“We have computers, software, and printers in all our cars,” says Krall. “We can go out to the car and come back in 10 minutes with a printout of what their house will look like.”

Krall says his company stays away from doing large blowups or anything kitschy. The company also doesn’t supply any live greenery. He often trims a house’s roofline with lights.

“It is a clean and crisp look,” he says. “We also put lights on a lot of trees, bushes, and wreaths.”

He estimates it costs about $500 to light a small ranch house, and goes up from there for large jobs.

“There is no limit on the upper end. We do a lot of big commercial jobs—the sky’s the limit,” he says.

One of Krall’s customers is Chrissie VonderSitt of Glenview, who sought Krall’s help four years ago.   

“We’d been doing it ourselves,” she says. “But it was a lot of work. It was expensive and cold.”

She likes being able to see the design before it is installed, and make changes if needed.

“You can see how it’s going to look and where you need to add more lights,” she says.

She, like many of Krall’s customers, prefers a classic look.

“I like all the twinkly white lights. He does it with different-size bulbs so it has more depth,” she says.

Kralls says permanent lights that are hidden beneath the gutter are popular, because some people like the option of flicking on their lights for other holidays, like St. Patrick’s Day or Valentine’s Day. Customers also like LEDs.

“The LEDs consume less energy and they last longer,” he says.

In addition to installation and storage, American Holiday Lights will replace any light that goes out.

“If you look out your window and see one bulb out,” he says, “we’ll be there within 24 hours to replace it.”

The company also supplies customers with timers, so the lights go on and off at designated times. Their equipment includes a 40-foot lift so even lighting the tallest trees is not out of the question.

Lights are as much a part of the holiday season as Christmas cookies and visits with Santa.

“Lights just add more joy to your festivities,” he says. “They’re just a nice touch in the nighttime.”