Tom Smith, owner of A&S Electric Supply in Erlanger, Ky., doesn’t hesitate when asked what sets his company apart from the competition.

“Personal service,” says Smith. “We know our customers and our customers know us.”

The reason his customers know his electrical wholesale company and lighting center at 3140 Crescent Ave. so well is because the company has been around so long.

Founded in 1969 by Smith’s father, Lawrence Smith, and Robert Ash, the company serves Northern Kentucky, southwest Ohio and southeastern Indiana.

“We were here in 1969 when the circle expressway came in and all the businesses, and we were already here and established and ready to take care of things. A lot of people just know us for that,” Smith says.

Plus, he says, he has longtime employees with 10 to 15 years of experience to help fill the customers’ needs. “They are known and recognized in our industry,” Smith says.

That experience also comes in handy in keeping up with the current trends and technology in the industry.

“We try to keep ourselves and our employees educated as to what’s available so that we can recommend it to our customers and help them make the best possible decisions for their applications,” he says.

One of the latest trends in the lighting area is light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.

“Everybody’s always talking about the LED lighting, which is the most energy efficient and long-lasting light source out there right now,” says Smith.

Because LEDs last so long, they are great for industrial customers such as factories, hospitals and schools because they don’t have to be replaced as often, says Smith.

“Some of the LEDs are rated between 50,000 and 100,000 hours,” he says. “And depending on your burning cycle, whether its eight or 10 hours a day or less, you possibly could have a light source that could last you 10 or 15 years.”

Although more expensive than compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs, the LED has an advantage. Unlike CFLs, the LED contains no mercury—which is classified as a hazardous waste—are fully dimmable and are not affected by cold temperatures, Smith says.

Although more expensive that CFLs, customers who buy LEDs will save money in the long run because they’ll spend less on energy, he says. “You’re going to spend some money to put this [LED] in, but the money you’re going to save on energy is going to come back usually within a year and half and two years,” Smith says.

The company’s residential lighting center, which was opened in 1978, carries plenty of fixtures for LED lighting, he says. And LED lighting is becoming more popular for those “forward-thinking” homeowners who are remodeling or simply looking to upgrade their landscape lighting or decorative lighting on the outside of the house, Smith says.

Looking forward is also something that Smith is doing. He says the company may soon build a 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot addition for more inventory and a wire-cutting room.