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A Former Pest Control Company Is Exterminating the Christmas Light Hassle


Let's face it: Putting up holiday lights can be as unpleasant as finding a spider in your bathtub, and getting on a ladder in the biting winter air just to find that a handful of bulbs are missing is nearly as big a hassle as an ant invasion. Having spent some time in the pest control business, Chelsea and Travis Stevens saw those similarities when they transitioned to putting up holiday lights.

"We owned a pest control company with other business partners, and we loved it," said Chelsea. "We had multiple locations across the country, but we spent a lot of time traveling and being away from home. Then, a few years ago, we bought our first house, got pregnant, and we realized that lifestyle and pace weren't what we were looking for anymore, so we sold our share of the business."

The Stevens opened Silver Bells Decorative Lighting Solutions in 2015, thinking it would be a seasonal business, installing lights only prior to the holidays. But by the end of their first season, the Stevens knew Silver Bells had potential. And business hasn't let up since. Today, they've expanded their services to professional patio, landscaping and event lighting design year-round.

  • Courtesy Silver Bells Decorative Lighting Solutions

"We had a lot of experience in home services and realized there was a need for great lighting services in the Treasure Valley," Chelsea said. "Most companies providing Christmas lights do it as an add-on service, so we spent a lot of time training, researching and networking with industry experts to make sure we could provide the best possible home lighting services in the area."

For the Stevens, the transition from one business to another was natural. In pest control, they were in charge of the company's sales and marketing initiatives. They weren't as involved with the product and application, but their background in recruiting and sales allowed them to jump into a new service.

When Boise Weekly first spoke with Chelsea in early November, her phone was already ringing off the hook. Silver Bells' customers, it seemed, shifted holiday gears as soon as they shut their doors on the last trick-or-treaters. Luckily, the company's 14 employees had been in holiday mode for the previous seven weeks, cutting wire, fitting bulbs and installing strings of lights.

  • Courtesy Silver Bells Decorative Lighting Solutions

Originally equipped with only a website and a handful of loyal customers, Silver Bells has grown every season. Chelsea anticipates the company will complete between 400 and 500 projects this year alone, from hundred-dollar undertakings with simple lights along a roofline to more elaborate neighborhood installations for places like Eagle's Lakemoor subdivision.

"Consistent quote requests have been coming in since July, a little earlier than usual," Chelsea said. "I haven't had to do any paid advertising for over two years. I designed our website and did all the SEO, and we've generated good traffic from that. We also get a lot of business from referrals—at least 25 percent."

What keeps these customers coming back and telling their friends and neighbors is the company's unique lighting program. Silver Bells custom cuts each project from 1,000-foot spools of wire, assembling bulbs and clips in a Nampa warehouse.

"Some customers will come to us with a plan for exactly what they want, and we roll with that and make suggestions as needed," Chelsea said. "Others know they want professional help and have ideas but really want a custom design. And because ours is a lease program, we provide everything."

With the lease program, customers don't have to buy or store their lights. And Silver Bells takes full responsibility for their condition. If a bulb or string burns out, customers call in and a worker is dispatched to fix the problem for no additional cost.

"We know lighting is a luxury service, so each customer deserves to have something to love and be excited about," Chelsea said. "From quote to design to removal, we want to make it easy."

  • Courtesy Silver Bells Decorative Lighting Solutions

While many smaller jobs can be done in a day, Silver Bells' larger installations can take much longer. The Lakemoor subdivision, for example, takes several weeks, with crews out every day. In addition to the bridge on Eagle Road and Colchester Drive, the team of full- and part-time workers also adds lights to the trees, shrubs and gated entrances.

"Even though we do it every year, Lakemoor is still my favorite," Chelsea said. "I go out every year and take updated pictures. It's the one we take our friends and family from out of town to see. Our other big residential job is in south Meridian, where we do a huge pine tree in white lights—you can see it from a mile away. We also did the lighting for Stillwater Hollow, a gorgeous wedding and events venue in Nampa. It's their first year with professional lights, and it'll be one of my new favorites."

So much, then, for a slower-paced side gig. The business has grown far bigger than Chelsea and Travis imagined, and Chelsea said it outstrips their old job of wrangling bugs in entertainment value, too.

"Pest control isn't fun," she said. "The interactions with the people were fantastic, but now we finish a project, and we get to stand back and say, 'Wow, I did that.' It's been really rewarding."