Big Ass Solutions
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Big Ass Solutions

Big Ass Fans
Industry Manufacturing
Founded 1999
Headquarters Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Number of locations
Area served
Key people
Lennie Rhoades, CEO
Products Industrial, commercial, agricultural, residential fans and lighting
Number of employees
Parent Delta T. Corporation[1]

Big Ass Fans manufactures fans, lights and controls for industrial, agricultural, commercial and residential use, including the Big Ass Fans, Big Ass Light, and Haiku fan product lines. The company's headquarters are in Lexington, Kentucky, with additional offices in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Canada.


After designing a new type of cooling system for industrial spaces and warehouses with his father, Carey Smith incorporated the Delta T. Corporation in Lexington, Kentucky, to manufacture and install the systems in 1994.[2] In 1999, Smith saw an advertisement for a "high-volume, low-speed" (HVLS) ceiling fan made by a company in California.[2] Believing he could sell the fans to many of his existing customers, Smith signed an exclusive distribution agreement with the company in 1999.[2] He changed the name of his company to HVLS Fan Company and shifted the company's focus almost exclusively to fan sales.[2]

By 2006, Big Ass Fans had outgrown its original location and moved its headquarters to a larger facility on Merchant Street in Lexington.[3] During the Great Recession, Smith refused to lay off workers and still gave bonuses, albeit smaller than in previous years; the company augmented revenue by offering installation services for their products.[4] By 2010, the company was forced to re-occupy its Winchester Road location in addition to the Merchant Street location and its research and development facility on Lexington's Jaggie Fox Way in order to accommodate its continued growth.[5]

In 2014, the company opened a new division called Big Ass Light to sell LED fixtures. As of June 2018, the company occupied three buildings in Lexington: an 88,000-square-foot (8,200 m2) office building; a 44,000-square-foot (4,100 m2) research and development lab that is certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council; and a 165,000-square-foot (15,300 m2) manufacturing facility.

In 2017 the company shut down its facility on Winchester Road. [6] In 2003, the building's 40-foot wide mural depicting Fanny, the donkey mascot of Big Ass Fans, annoyed a Lexington council member so much that he wanted the Winchester Road sign outlawed. A city attorney opined that the government is limited in its power to legislate taste, and the mural stayed put on the bricks of 800 Winchester Road, even after Big Ass Fans moved to another building. The building was the headquarters for Big Ass Fans from 2003 to 2006, according to Big Ass Fans spokesman Scott Sloan, and it had been vacant for "a number of years leading up to its sale." Since 2006, the company has used two other Lexington buildings, with the current company headquarters located on Innovation Drive.

In 2017, Smith sold the company to private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg.[7] In February 2018, Lennie Rhoades, a senior vice president at JELD-WEN, became CEO.[8]

Business Model

Big Ass Fans sells its products directly to customers.[9] Since the Great Recession of the late 2000s, Big Ass Fans has averaged 30% annual growth,[10] with revenues climbing from $34 million in 2009 to $240 million in 2016.[11] Part of that growth is attributed to the higher-than-average salaries the company pays its employees, which are 30% more than the U.S. median of $45,790 and 50% more than the Kentucky median of $38,940.[12] The company has been named to the Inc. 5000[13] list of the fastest-growing private companies 11 consecutive times from 2007 to 2017. [14]


In 2000, the company then known as HVLS Fan Company initiated a marketing campaign with mailers depicting the rear of a donkey, a fan with a 20-foot (6.1 m) blade span, and the caption "Big Ass Fan".[15] Although some postmasters in Georgia, Mississippi, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, California and Louisville returned the cards to HVLS as inappropriate, the campaign generated interest in the product.[15] After numerous customers called the company asking if it made "those big-ass fans", Smith changed the company name to Big Ass Fans.[16] Fanny, the donkey used in the ad campaign, became the company's mascot, and Smith changed his job title to "Chief Big Ass".[16] The company's web site sells promotional merchandise with the company name and logo.[17]

When the company relocated to Lexington's Winchester Road, residents staged protests of a 40-foot (12 m) wide mural depicting the company's name and mascot on the side of its building.[18] Because of the name, Lexington's Blue Grass Airport declined to display advertising from the company in its baggage claim area.[19] The airport later relented and hung a Big Ass Fan and a plaque near the security checkpoint. The Big Ass Fans Facebook page includes a gallery of letters complaining about the company's name, and in 2012, it began a YouTube channel featuring customer voicemail complaints styled as music videos.[20] For schools and religious institutions, however, the company maintains an advertising package that does not include the company name alongside the famous logo.[20]


The company's first line of products included several iterations of a large-diameter, low-speed ceiling fan for industrial and agricultural use. These fans use airfoils instead of flat blades and feature onboard variable-frequency drives. Since its founding, Big Ass Fans has expanded its product line to include directional, oscillating and mobile fans. The company has developed a line of fans for air-conditioned commercial and residential spaces, LED light fixtures and controls.

Big Ass Fans entered the commercial business market in 2008, debuting a line of fans ranging from 8 feet (2.4 m) to 20 feet (6.1 m) in diameter.[21] The following year, it began manufacturing fans in sizes suitable for residential settings.[21] In late 2011, Big Ass Fans acquired a manufacturer of energy efficient residential fans.[22] Haiku models incorporate direct current, permanent magnetics and aerodynamic airfoils making them 80% more efficient than conventional ceiling fans.[23] They held the top 10 spots on Energy Star's Most Efficient 2014 list.[23] In 2014, the company added smart technology SenseME to the Haiku ceiling fan.[24] Haiku with SenseME integrates with the Nest Learning Thermostat through a smartphone app.[25]

In 2014, the company created a new division, Big Ass Light, and began manufacturing lighting products.[22] This line includes the Big Ass LED and the Big Ass Garage Light.[22]

Awards and recognition

Example of industrial fan: Powerfoil X2.0 Plus
Example of residential fan: Haiku
Big Ass Fans employees accepting the 2012 Best Places to Work in Kentucky award

In 2016

  • Forbes' 25 Best Small Companies in America[26]
  • Fortune's 50 Best Workplaces for New College Grads[27]
  • EPA honors Big Ass Fans with 2016 ENERGY STAR® Award for Excellence in Energy-Efficient Product Design[28]
  • 2016 Top Green Providers[29]

In 2015

  • Haiku with SenseME was named Best in Class by Inc.[30]
  • Forbes named Big Ass Fans to its list of America's Most Promising Companies. Big Ass Fans rose to No. 33 from No. 49 in 2014.[31]
  • World Architecture News honored Haiku with SenseME with a Product Innovation Award.[32]
  • Plant Engineering named Big Ass Light High Bay LED a gold winner in its Product of the Year awards.[33]
  • Consulting-Specifying Engineer named Big Ass Light High Bay LED as a finalist for 2015 Product of the Year.[34]
  • Big Ass Fans was ranked 13 in the annual Best Places To Work in Kentucky awards. This was their first year ranked among the large business category, and their seventh year among the winners.[35]
  • Inc. magazine included Big Ass Fans in the prestigious Inc. 5000 list. This is the ninth-consecutive year that Big Ass Fans made the list.[36]

In 2014

  • Haiku was named ENERGY STAR Most Efficient.[37]
  • U.S. Green Building Council Best of Building Awards for Product Manufacturer of the Year - Best Product for Energy Efficiency (Essence), Best Product for Efficient Lighting (Big Ass High Bay LED) and Most Innovative New Product of the Year (Haiku with SenseME)[38]

In 2013

  • FX Awards Product of the Year for Haiku[39]

In 2012

  • Popular Science Best of What's New for Haiku[40]

In 2011

  • Plant Engineering Product of the Year for Yellow Jacket[41]


  1. ^ This is the legal name per the Terms of Use
  2. ^ a b c d Dooley, Karla (August 13, 2002). "Business is a Breeze". Lexington Herald-Leader. 
  3. ^ Sloan, Scott (October 26, 2007). "Local fan maker's campus to double in size". Lexington Herald-Leader. 
  4. ^ Sloan, Scott (June 3, 2012). "Bucking the trend comes naturally to 'Chief Big Ass'". Lexington Herald-Leader. 
  5. ^ Sloan, Scott (August 12, 2010). "Too Big for its Niches". Lexington Herald-Leader. 
  6. ^ Truman, Cheryl (2017-11-10). "The Big Ass mural on Winchester Road was once the talk of the town. But that's changing | Lexington Herald Leader". Retrieved . 
  7. ^ Staff, WKYT News. "Sale of Lexington-based "Big Ass Solutions" is official". Retrieved . 
  8. ^ "Working at Big Ass Fans". Glassdoor. Retrieved . 
  9. ^ "Big asspirations". The Economist. Retrieved . 
  10. ^ Strauss, Karsten. "'Big Ass Fans' Getting Bigger". Forbes. Retrieved . 
  11. ^ Goodman, Peter S. (2017-08-15). "One U.S. Factory Goes Global, While Trump Shrinks the World". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved . 
  12. ^ Fisher, Anne. "Why Big Ass Fans pays 30% above national average". CNNMoney. Retrieved . 
  13. ^ "Inc. (magazine)". Wikipedia. 2018-02-23. 
  14. ^ "Spread the Word: Big Ass Solutions Is No. 3096 on the Inc. 5000 This Year!". Retrieved . 
  15. ^ a b Jordan, Jim (July 10, 2000). "Postmasters Butt in Over Fan Firm's Cards". Lexington Herald-Leader. 
  16. ^ a b "The Economist, April 1, 2014: Big Asspirations". Retrieved 2015. 
  17. ^ Jordan, Jim (November 27, 2006). "Fun with Fans". Lexington Herald-Leader. 
  18. ^ "Reliable Plant", April 20, 2014: Big Ass Fans Moves Into New Facility". Retrieved 2015. 
  19. ^ "Lexington Herald-Leader", January 18, 2010: Big Ass Fans Comes to Airport". Retrieved 2015. 
  20. ^ a b Truman, Cheryl (September 5, 2012). "Fanny mail: Complaints find way into video". Lexington Herald-Leader. 
  21. ^ a b "Big Ass Fans sells its 100,000th fan". Lexington Herald-Leader. June 12, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b c Pullen, John Patrick (August 19, 2015). "How This Fan Company Is Proving It Has More Than Just a Good Name". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 2016. 
  23. ^ a b ""Energy Star", 10 January, 2015: ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2015". Retrieved 2015. 
  24. ^ "Gigaom", 04 June, 2014: Big Ass Fans' New Ceiling Fan is Really a Robot". Retrieved 2015. 
  25. ^ "Big Ass Fans", 04 June, 2014: Big Ass Fans the World's First Smart Ceiling Fan". Retrieved 2015. 
  26. ^ Burlingham, Bo. "The Best Small Companies In America, 2016". Forbes. Retrieved . 
  27. ^ "Big Ass Solutions". Fortune. 2016-05-24. Retrieved . 
  28. ^ "EPA honors Big Ass Solutions with 2016 ENERGY STAR® AWARD for Excellence in Energy-Efficient Product Design >> Big Ass Fans". 
  29. ^ "2016 Top Green Providers >> Big Ass Fans". 
  30. ^ "Inc. Names Haiku with SenseME as Best in Class Design » Big Ass Fans". Inc. Names Haiku with SenseME as Best in Class Design » Big Ass Fans. Retrieved 2015. 
  31. ^ "Forbes Again Names Big Ass Fans Among America's Most Promising Companies » Big Ass Fans". Forbes Again Names Big Ass Fans Among America's Most Promising Companies » Big Ass Fans. Retrieved 2015. 
  32. ^ "World Architecture News Honors Haiku with SenseME » Big Ass Fans". World Architecture News Honors Haiku with SenseME » Big Ass Fans. Retrieved 2015. 
  33. ^ "Big Ass Light High Bay LED Named Plant Engineering Product of the Year » Big Ass Fans". Big Ass Light High Bay LED Named Plant Engineering Product of the Year » Big Ass Fans. Retrieved 2015. 
  34. ^ "Consulting-Specifying Engineer Honors Big Ass Light High Bay LED » Big Ass Fans". Consulting-Specifying Engineer Honors Big Ass Light High Bay LED » Big Ass Fans. Retrieved 2015. 
  35. ^ ""Best Places to Work in Kentucky", 14 April, 2015: Best Places to Work in Kentucky Rankings Announced" (PDF). Retrieved 2015. 
  36. ^ "Big Ass Fans: Number 2437 on the 2015 Inc. 5000". Retrieved 2015. 
  37. ^ ""Energy Star", 10 January, 2015: ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2015". Retrieved 2015. 
  38. ^ "USGBC", 17 September, 2014: Announcing the Best of Building Award winners". Retrieved 2015. 
  39. ^ "FX Awards", 5 September, 2013: FX Awards Product of the Year". Retrieved 2015. 
  40. ^ "Popular Science", 19 January, 2012: Best of What's New". Retrieved 2015. 
  41. ^ "Plant Engineering", 16 April, 2012: 2011 Product of the Year". Retrieved 2015. 

Further reading

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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