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Making Spirits ‘Brite’

Brite Ideas

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Touch it. Experience it. Own it.

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Sometime between studying American history and chemistry in high school, Travis Freeman had a bright idea. It was to expand the typical offerings of a landscape company to include hanging holiday lights for customers.


Freeman developed this dream, starting small and locally with a truck, a handful of employees and few strings of lights. Now, 20 years later, he is the owner of a still local business, only it has a national reach with over 40 employees, 375 franchises, and a factory in China. Apparently, his business Brite Ideas is aptly named.

A home’s interior décor conveys much about the homeowners’ personality and interests, whether they are formal or relaxed, prefer subdued colors or bold statements, tend toward fuss or minimalism. Freeman believes this same principle holds for a home’s exterior. “The lights on a house are an outward expression of who [the homeowner] is,” he says. Matching a customer’s personality and style with a display is one of his favorite aspects of his job. He loves developing new design ideas and finds gratification in doing something different for each customer.

His artistic eye and the ability to execute his innovative plans has landed him countless metro projects as well as national contracts in California, North Dakota, and most recently a 300,000 light Christmas drive in Arkansas.

It is the combined love of design challenges and serving others that drew Freeman to the Salvation Army’s Tree of Lights campaign. Omaha businessman and philanthropist Mike Simmons became a partner of Freeman’s for a brief time, and Simmons introduced Freeman to the holiday campaign.

At the time, the Tree of Lights was just relocating from the Douglas County Court House lawn to the south parking lot of Crossroads Mall. It was a live tree, donated by a private citizen. Freeman’s job was to select the appropriate tree and decorate it. The Tree of Light’s gradual migration west continued five years ago to its current location at 90th and Dodge Streets. Freeman oversaw the construction of a 50 foot steel frame tree illuminated by 650 LED starbursts. A permanent concrete base had to be poured to support the impressive structure.

“I am amazed at the number of people who come together to make this happen,” says Freeman. Ten Brite Ideas employees and 20 iron workers donate their time the Saturday before Halloween to erect the tree. That is just the beginning. Hundreds of volunteers ring bells outside various locations through the holiday season to raise money to feed hungry citizens of the metropolitan area as part of the Kettle Campaign. The Salvation Army has set a $3.1 million goal this year to fund over 20 programs and help 3,700 families who have registered with the Salvation Army for holiday assistance.

Freeman likes surrounding himself with quality people like those involved with the Salvation Army. Exposure to goodness in others fosters goodness in us, he maintains. “I couldn’t think of not doing it,” he explains of his involvement. What the Salvation Army does for the families here in Omaha inspires him to action.


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