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Palmen Auto

 Racine, WI  Indoor Lighting Outdoor lighting

Palmen Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Racine switches to Cree® LED lighting to reduce maintenance and energy costs and to showcase vehicles in a better light.


When Steven Kaufman was promoted to General Manager of Palmen Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Racine, he was put in charge of facility maintenance. The first thing he noticed was capacitors and ballasts overheating and bulbs burning out, causing him to replace 25 percent of the lights on the dealership lot every six months. This routine maintenance added up to thousands of dollars annually. In addition to the high maintenance expense, Kaufman was concerned about customer safety at night, as the existing underpowered lights left dark shadows between cars. Most importantly, every third light was burned out, negatively impacting the brand and the ability to showcase vehicle inventory.


Cree® LED luminaires offer unprecedented cost savings and a quick payback.

Kaufman contacted Mark Wiechert, President, Wellcraft Electrical Contracting, Inc. to find a solution for the faulty capacitors and ballasts. In turn, Wiechert worked with Cree to devise an LED lighting solution that would primarily reduce maintenance costs and improve lighting. “It was a pleasure working with Cree. It was a good experience and they were very professional, especially in regards to our customer,” said Wiechert. “The products are high quality and reliable.” Palmen Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Racine installed 52 Cree Edge™ High Output Area lights using existing poles. In addition, the Automotive FrontlineOptic™ Technology was used on the front line of vehicles to dramatically enhance the curb appeal by delivering light on target. Cree Edge™ Flood, Cree Edge™ Security and Cree 304 Series™ Soffit lights were installed around the automotive dealership building exterior. The dealership went from having 156 metal halide luminaires to 85 Cree luminaires — reducing the total wattage outdoors from 125,926 watts to 47,397 watts — resulting in a 62 percent energy savings. “Our lights run nine hours per day, seven days per week. By installing Cree® LED luminaires, we have realized how the lighting is contributing to a 35 percent savings on our energy bill each month,” said Kaufman. “We are anticipating a shorter payback than what we originally calculated.”


The switch to Cree® LED Lighting enhances the curb appeal of the vehicles, eliminates shadows between cars helping to create a safer environment and make car shopping at night an inviting experience.

Cree luminaires have a modern and clean look that complements the dealership’s existing architecture. “I really like the appearance of the fixtures. We had six bulbs on each pole and now we are down to one or two,” said Kaufman. If you look at the dealership from a distance, it’s a lot cleaner.” The new lighting is pure and crisp and helps to showcase the cars more vividly. Targeting the light helps eliminate the shadows between cars, helping to create a safer environment and make car shopping at night an inviting experience.

“When someone comes on the lot and lights are all working, they can see the product and feel safe,” said Kaufman. “When there’s three or four lights out, it doesn’t create a good impression and customers are likely to shop elsewhere.” Along with reduced maintenance costs, energy efficiency, dramatically better visibility, and stylish aesthetics, Kaufman also liked the reduced light pollution and Cree’s 10-year limited warranty. “With a 10-year limited warranty, the product has got to be quality,” said Kaufman. “No company could afford a limited 10-year warranty if the product they produced and sold was substandard.” Pleased with the results and positive feedback received from employees and customers about the Cree outdoor lighting system, Palmen Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Racine is considering installing the same outdoor lighting system at their other two locations in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “I like the way it looks. The lighting is fantastic,” said Kaufman. “Cree was very professional, on the ball, dependable, and offered a solution that worked for us.”

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