In this interview with Jim Ragan, founder of St. James Lighting, located in Columbia, Mississippi we asked about the tremendous growth of his company, even in a down economy. Jim says he attributes the growth of St. James Lighting to the extreme detail and attention they pay when building, what Jim believes is the best quality handcrafted lighting fixtures in the country. And he proves it! Jim, along with his son Patrick run the day to day operations, which now employs 33 people. It all started back in 1981 when Jim graduated from college and went to work for a local gas company which had a light manufacturing department. Eventually the gas company closed & sold off the light manufacturing division.Jim then decided to start St. James Lighting 10 years ago.
St. James Lighting handcrafts the highest quality copper lanterns and chandeliers on the market today. Jim states as an example of this is that absolutely 100% of the parts used in every lighting fixture are made in the U.S.A. Many companies will use at least some parts that are manufactured and assembled in China. Another example of the extremes they go to for quality is that they use copper brazing rods instead of the cheaper and faster method of soldering, which many companies use. Copper brazing rods have a melting temperature between 1100 & 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, which requires more expensive equipment and a much higher skilled craftsman than soldering requires. Where rivets are used, an actual rivet machine is used vs. the cheaper and faster pop rivet that is a very common practice today.
The skills of these craftsman are so developed that only 3 out of 33 employees are even qualified to work on every aspect of the building of a fixture. They are so busy filling orders that they have 5 full time copper braziers. Normally 10-12 people will have a part in building a lantern or chandelier. In house training involves starting workers on the easiest tasks then as training continues they progress to the next level of difficulty. It may take a year or longer before an employee can take on the more difficult tasks. All St. James lights are certified for both indoor and outdoor use. Every lighting fixture is checked, tested and certified by the ETL (Edison Testing Lab) and ANSI (American National Standard Institute). Jim states that a very large percentage of their orders are for custom designed lights. When asked how the designs are developed , Jim says that he and the craftsmen have developed several but that most of the designs actually come from his clients. They know what they want for their home or business and can’t find it anywhere so they have St. James Lighting build it. Jim states that there is virtually no limit to what his skilled employees can craft.
St. James is also continually expanding color finishes, glass and lighting options. From the delicate and exquisite design of the Persian or Long Island Chandelier to the absolutely bold and bodacious statement maker of a “Castle like” Teardrop Chandelier, the quality is truly breathtaking. On the lantern side, the number one seller Magnolia and the Biloxi or Brunswick Lanterns are outdoor lighting that is beauty personified. This is what makes St. James Lighting so special and has made them one of the most recognized and respected names in the lighting fixture business by Architects, Interior Designers and Home Builders across the country.