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Angela Primavera: An Entrepreneur Glowing With Delight

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When Angela Primavera pondered a move from an impressive corporate position into the unknown world of running her own company, a light bulb illuminated over her head.

A few months ago, Angela joined the ranks of America’s entrepreneurs by purchasing Creative Displays, Inc., one of the largest distributors of holiday lighting, displays and accessories in the Midwest and throughout the nation.

“I decided that I would take a chance on myself. I had been looking at entrepreneurial opportunities and saw Creative Displays for sale. I’ve always been pushed toward owning my own company, and my passion has always been finding a product that I can connect with. I also wanted to build something for my family to be involved in with me,” Angela affirmed. “When I saw this opportunity and the connection to holiday lights, I knew this was right for me.”

Continuing the Legacy
Located in Overland Park, Kansas, Creative Displays was founded in 1959 by George Purucker, who manufactured commercial-grade outdoor light strings and decorated many properties in the KC area. In 1994, Paul Sessel purchased Creative Displays and, over the next 23 years, moved the company from a seasonal focus to year-round sales of LED and incandescent lights and outdoor displays. The company has sold lighting products to many highly visible facilities, from our own Country Club Plaza lights display to the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas and even SeaWorld and Universal. In September of this year, Angela purchased the business, becoming owner and president.

Angela has lived in the KC metro since 1998 and now Lenexa, Kansas, is her home. But the 42-year-old credits much of her success to her upbringing on a farm near Sioux City, on the western side of Iowa. It was there Angela began forging her entrepreneurial spirit and hard work ethic based on the example set by her father, a farmer. Today, he still oversees the family farm, growing corn and soybeans and raising cattle. Here, her inspiration for having her own business took root. You could also say her time in rural Iowa planted the seed for her long-term delight with the holiday tradition of lighting displays.

A Holiday Tradition
“I remember so vividly driving through the countryside with my family and seeing the Christmas lights. We called them ‘pretties.’ There was a special nativity display that we’d always drive by,” she recalled. “It was so nice to see the lighting displays that people would do for their families and friends. Owning Creative Displays brings back nice memories of things we did as family.”

Angela has transferred her love of lighting to her own family, consisting of two children, Zorianna, nine, and Owen IV, seven, and her husband, Owen III, who is a tremendous supporter of her work and has his own love of light bulb illumination to nurture. “My husband’s such a lighting enthusiast. He’s like Clark Griswold,” she laughed. “But if you’re going to have a purpose, it’s hard to beat holiday lighting. No matter what someone has going on their life, seeing holiday lights seems to brighten things. This was a huge decision for us, but my kids can now come into the office with me. I’m getting them involved. I’m setting an example for my children and giving them the experience of being hands-on with the business.”

Angela brings nearly 20 years of executive experience in brand management, strategic marketing and business analytics to Creative Displays. As vice president and general manager for Lee Jeans Female Merchandising Division, she led innovative, original product launches and grew the brand to top market share. She built solid relationships with customers, suppliers and manufacturers. However, the position required traveling all over the world, giving presentations and interacting with other business units owned by the parent company, VF Corporation. Time with her family was limited. That’s why she decided to take the plunge and purchase Creative Displays.

Moving Forward
“I needed more balance in my life and to be with my family. The pressures of an executive role were intense. My husband and I began working with a broker for investment opportunities and, in May 2017, the opportunity to purchase Creative Displays was presented. This was something we could see ourselves doing,” she said. “It took a few months for the due diligence to ensure it checked out financially. We took over ownership on September 1, which is the busiest time of the year. It has been crazy, keeping up with demand nationwide and in Canada.”

As the primary owner, Angela remains staunchly committed to the same principles driving nearly six decades of Creative Displays’ success. Her company provides exceptional quality and commercial-grade products at reasonable prices, backed by top-notch customer service. Yet Angela is not one to rest on the company’s laurels. She sees tremendous growth opportunities in other lighting applications.

“My goal isn’t to keep the company where we are today. I’m looking to be a more year-round business. We offer a pre-order sale during the first of the year. That’s successful and we want to expand that even more,” Angela noted. “But my vision for growth is focusing on events and patio lighting, weddings and lighting docks at the lake, with more of our biggest pushes in non-holiday months. For instance, we offer Halloween lights, pink ones for breast cancer awareness and Valentine’s Day. We’re also using Amazon as a new distribution channel for us. Customers don’t think to shop for patio lights on our website, but they might on Amazon.”

It’s not only the glow of holiday lights that pleases Angela about her new role. She also loves the interaction with her customers. Creative Displays is a very customer-focused business, featuring direct communication with the companies and individuals purchasing her products. Guidance and consultation are a huge part of the successful formula that sets Creative Displays apart from the competition.

Sharing Festive Delight
“What I love about my company is the interaction with customers. I enjoy their passion and excitement for the holiday,” she commented. “My customers, whether cities or communities or residents for their own homes, make a big investment in their displays. I want them to have awesome displays, while I savor a bit of their enjoyment.”

Angela also highlights the quality of the products she offers. Whether it’s gorgeous displays or bulbs and wiring that power the Plaza lights in Kansas City, offering the best merchandise is key to her success. “I love the products: the bulbs, the colors and new technologies. We’re always testing fresh ways to improve our products, and we’re studying how to push the envelope for our customers,” she shared. “When you buy a business, there are good and bad things you didn’t know about it, and this is a highly competitive industry. Creative Displays stands for quality. You don’t get any savings in buying cheaper bulbs with lower quality.”

Of course, her three employees are the biggest advantage Angela can offer to her customers. “I have a staff of great people and their passion is contagious for me. They’re always coming to work bringing new ideas on how to make the company better,” she remarked.

This great staff combined with superior merchandise allows Angela to look forward to a superb future for her company. It was no easy decision to leave an impressive, secure corporate role to take the plunge and become the leader of her own company. She sees the road ahead of her as a tough journey, but one she’s prepared to take.

“For others who are thinking of starting on their own, I say believe in yourself and bet on yourself, and understand that you don’t have to know it all,” she stated. “Be comfortable in asking others for their help and knowledge. In fact, I’ve asked many others for assistance. I don’t do accounting, but I have a good accountant to help me. You also need to have a firm belief in what you’re doing, believe in the products and services you’re offering and then make the world believe as much as you do.”

Lighting Up Lives
Because Creative Displays has more of a commercial focus, most KC metro residents don’t realize that this powerhouse of holiday lighting and more is a part of their community. Yet unbeknownst to them, many delight in its gorgeous displays lighting up the sky during our holiday season.

“There are a lot of selfless people who are presenting lights and displays to the community, even the do-it-yourselfers,” Angela said. “I have a lot of gratitude for their hard work, and the fact many are putting so much of their time and resources into these displays to make holiday lights available for others. Through them, we’re spreading the joy of the holiday season.” ■

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