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Think Fast!

This entrepreneur's got serious marketing game.

Small talk isn't always free-flowing, but Constantine Pergantis knows it's important when connecting with customers. So when the owner of Nite Lites, an indoor and outdoor lighting-installation company in North Potomac, Maryland, discovered his company's basketball games created a buzz in the community, it led to building relationships on and off the court.

A basketball enthusiast, Pergantis sponsored and fielded his own team to participate in Hoop It Up!, a national amateur tournament. Team Nite Lites dominated the event, garnering attention from the media as well as new and existing customers. The team, consisting of Pergantis' friends, has customers-turned-fans traveling to away games.

Nite Lites doesn't spend a dime on advertising; word-of-mouth has Pergantis, 38, lighting the homes of NBA athletes like Patrick Ewing, as well as less famous clients in Maryland and bordering states. And with scores of fans clamoring for attention and services--and sales for 2001 nearing the $500,000 mark--it looks like Nite Lites has found an MVP in Pergantis.

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This article was originally published in the June 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Think Fast!.

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