Maia Potok-Holmes: Thank you so much for talking with me today, Matt.
Matthew Rowan: It's my pleasure!
MPH: So, let's get straight to it. How did you come to Dominion Electric?
MR: I have a design background. I’m an industrial designer by training. I've worked in architecture and interior firms as an internal specialist on a lot of the user experience stuff – like graphics, lighting, signage – all the stuff that was really high touch point items. I was working for Gensler, leading their studio in the DC office when Dominion’s CEO came to us and said “we need to re-envision, we need to do something totally different.” We came up with the overall approach and design scheme - we even had our consulting team come out and watch people work for a day. And then he offered me this job (laughs) which I wasn’t looking for – and I didn’t even realize he was offering me a job at first – I originally turned him down, because I loved working with my team, but he was persistent and brought me over. One of the first things he told me was “question and change everything.”
MPH: Why did Dominion want to conduct a total re-design and renovation?
MR: It's not just about selling things anymore. Now that we have the internet, people can immediately search anything, you can see all the products that you want; the problem is, lighting can be complex. And when you’re investing thousands of dollars in fixture you want to see it in person. So, there’s a huge place for showrooms, we just weren’t providing that experience. We wanted to become a trusted advisor rather than just selling things.
MPH: How did you approach that process? How are you incorporating those things into the showroom?
MPH: Is re-branding a part of this re-design process?
MR: Yes, in addition to re-doing the entire showroom, we’re undergoing a full rebrand. We’ve been talking about completely changing the vision and values of the company, we have a new logo and website [not yet released], new swag and business cards - and we’re starting to use the name “Dominion Light” for our residential business. It better describes the kind of work we do and speaks more to the high-end retail audience we’re looking for.
MPH: How do you see this renovation and rebranding as a part of the ongoing Plan Lee Highway project?
MR: As a designer, my passion and purpose is to continue improving and growing things. That’s an exciting aspect about this renovation - being a part of the growth and development of the Lee Highway community. If what we’re doing here can rub off and help someone a mile away, that’s great. The goal is to make things better for everyone that lives here.
MPH: Are there ways Dominion is hoping to engage with the greater Lee Highway community?
MR: Yes! We will be opening the space up to the community for events, meetings, etc. We want to deepen the roots Dominion has with the community.
MPH: Going back to the renovation quickly - can you talk about painting the exterior of the building? I know that was a big change.
MR: I was really worried at first about painting the exterior of the building, because I know change can be hard for a lot of people, but the response has been amazing. We receive calls from people in the neighborhood all the time asking about the paint color.
MPH: Can I ask what the paint color is, for those who want to know?
MR: (Laughs) Of course, it’s Benjamin Moore, Witching Hour.
MPH: It's been so great to chat with you, thanks so much Matt.
MR: My pleasure Maia. Come back soon.
With half its space already renovated, Dominion Lighting is currently open to the public, and is set to open its doors fully in May.
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