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Last Update: Tuesday July 27, 2021

Key Idea: Hire Good People

Sounds so simple. If someone new in business had told us this we would have thought, "how sweet and how naive." But when a person who has been building a strong company for over three decades says it, we listen.

Key Question:


Put together a team of good people.

Q: What do you think David means by the word, "good?"

A: David goes on to say if you hire the right people you will be successful and if you hire the wrong people you won't be. The words "good" and "right" carry more weight than the words, "experienced" or "knowledgeable." This reminds me of President George W. Bush. When he became president he started nominating people for cabinet positions and leadership roles in Federal agencies. In his nomination speech I would almost always hear him say, "This is a good man."

David and President Bush are saying that a good person is more important than a competent person. Both leaders assume there are plenty of competent people to choose from. They want more than competence. What the owners of strong, long-lived companies have learned through experience is: integrity, honesty, kindness, thoughtfulness, interpersonal communication skills and a deep respect for others is more important than a particular knowledge or skill.

Think about it

How will you go about finding a good person to hire?

Clip from: Theatrical Lighting

Huntsville, Alabama: Meet David Milly.  When he was a student at University of Alabama at Huntsville, he earned money booking entertainment and dances for his school. From his first booking, Earl Scruggs Review, a country-bluegrass band (of Deliverance fame), he knew this was what he wanted to do.

To book the lighting package for the show, he engaged Luna Tech, a sole proprietor, and they struck up a friendship. By the time he graduated in 1975 they had a partnership and then they formed a corporation to protect themselves from the liability involved with manufacturing and creating pyrotechnic special effects. David was initially a 25% stockholder in the business, yet by 1981 he negotiated a buyout of just the lighting division to be on his own.  That's a story, but this one just gets better.

At that time there was no trade association for the lighting industry. In 1987 a few of the fellows started one, Theatrical Dealers Association, and David was quick to join and serve on the board. He initiated a Small Business Development Committee. Today this national association is known as ESTA or the Entertainment Services and Technology Association. 

David has also been an active member of the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau for three decades. In this episode of the show you will meet all kinds of people who love Huntsville, who love Janet and David Milly, and love the stuff of making their community a great place to live.

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Theatrical Lighting Systems

David Milly, CEP / founder

1221 Jordon Lane
P.O. Box 2646
Huntsville, AL 35804

Visit our web site:

Office: 256-533-7025

Business Classification:
Lighting Supplies

Year Founded: 1981

Hire Good People

DAVID: And hire good people. You know, if you hire the right people and--I mean, that's a theme you're going to hear from me forever is hire the right people and you will be successful. You hire the wrong people and you won't be.

HATTIE: OK. Tell me about what's going on around us, the different people. Like, what's going on in this office right here?

DAVID: (Voiceover) This was our rental manager's office. He's now--we've been--promoted him to inventory control. No matter whether it's for rental equipment or sales equipment, if any of the sales people need it, they go to Ed and make sure that he's got it available for them. He has to make the decision, `Do I buy it? Do I sub-rent it?' you know, for rental and services. `If I buy it, am I going to rent it out enough times to justify the purchase?'

 DAVID: `Or do I go find it from somebody, rent it for a particular show or something?'

HATTIE: (Voiceover) David's wife, Janet, has been his partner since the beginning. This industry is small, right?

JANET MILLY: In the beginning, I thought that we were just this terribly small operation. And my husband would ask me, you know, `Well, where do we want to go with the business?' And I said, `I want to be a real lighting company.' And he took me out to a few of the businesses which I'd always heard were the large businesses in the industry, and they were not that much larger than us and I realized we are a real lighting company.

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