It’s hard to switch off when you’re running a business.

And husband and wife Chris and Sandrine Harrison put in plenty of hours as directors of family firm J G Harrison and Sons Electrical Ltd.

The company – a leading supplier of all things to do with lighting – was founded in the 1940s by Chris’ grandfather, George David Harrison, in a garage in Fixby.

The business later moved to Northgate and then Brook Street in Huddersfield before the business switched to Halifax.

Today, J G Harrison has a 30-strong team and offices in Dewsbury, Bradford, Rochdale and Halifax with Chris’ father John as managing director and Chris and Sandrine joining him on the board.

The couple met as students at the University of Glamorgan where Chris was taking a degree in business studies and French-born Sandrine was studying chemical engineering.

Chris grew up in Fixby and attended St David’s School at Marsh and Rishworth School near Halifax. After gaining his degree, he joined the family firm.

“I used to work for the firm during the holidays,” he says.

“I did have a year out at British Airways as part of my degree, buying software and hardware for BA’s IT division, but joining the family business was what I wanted to do. I started in the business at the Dewsbury branch and worked my way up.”

Sandrine was born in Toulouse and gained qualifications in chemical engineering. During her degree course, she had a two-month placement in industry at a BP oil refinery in Wales.

She returned to France to continue her studies, but came back to Wales when she learned she could complete her degree at Glamorgan University.

Her first job was working for a soft drinks firm in Macclesfield before she joined Hays Chemicals in Yeadon. Sandrine then joined Chris at J G Harrison after their marriage in 2001. The couple now have three boys.

Despite a heavily technical background, Sandrine says: “I have always enjoyed working in sales.

“When I joined, I took training to make sure I knew all about the business.

“Now I’m involved in sales and marketing, developing and updating the website, organising the shop displays and choosing products with Chris.”

J G Harrison boasts 15,000 products lines – ranging from the smallest light bulbs and hundreds of fluorescent tubes to stunning ceiling and wall lights, cables and switches and the latest in LED lighting.

Other electrical items include extractors and heaters.

The company supplies both retail and trade customers – with its products gracing care homes and hotels as well as flats and houses.

Sandrine is a keen judge of emerging design trends in the lighting sector.

The “industrial” look is popular at the moment, particularly with residents of flats in converted mills where the right kind of lighting fixture complements the exposed stonework and iron pillars.

There’s also a demand for the retro look, says Sandrine. “At the time of the Queen’s jubilee, the 1950s came back into fashion as far as lighting was concerned,” she says. “Now it’s the 1960s with lighting to suit the style of Sixties furniture that’s back in vogue.”

Sandrine says older couples, who might be expected to favour traditional styles of lighting, often opt for contemporary lighting.

The trick to finding out what the customer really wants is to ask the right questions, she says, adding: “We try to please everybody.”

The recession had a noticeable effect on demand for lighting – as construction slowed to a near-stop and homeowners had less cash to spend on improvements.

“We definitely felt it,” says Chris, adding, appropriately: “It was like a switch was turned off.

“But two or three years ago we started noticing the scaffolding going up again and people who had been putting off refurbishing their hotels and so on were starting up again.”

Energy-efficiency is increasingly the way ahead, Chris adds. “The industry had been dull for 20 years,” he says. “Now LED has gone massive. The easiest way to save energy is to change your lightbulbs.

“They used to be a hard sell because of their price, but people are now asking for energy-saving bulb because they are affordable and pay for themselves in a matter of months.

Chris and Sandrine Harrison of JG Harrison Electrical, New Brunswick St, Halifax.

“But you can still go round hotels where they are burning the old halogen bulbs 24-7. They’re literally burning money.”

Chris and Sandrine divide their time between the main Halifax branch, which is also the biggest of the four outlets and regular visits to the firm’s three other stores.

The store at Huddersfield Road, Dewsbury, opened in the 1980s with the Rochdale site opening about 12 years ago following J G Harrison’s acquisition of another business.

Both Chris and Sandrine recognise the value of offering a friendly service.

While internet sales are an increasingly significant part of the business, there’s still no substitute for face-to-face contact – and the opportunity to offer advice.

Sandrine says customers often come into the showroom thinking they know what they want – until they see the vast range on offer.

She says: “The best thing about us being a family business is that you can influence things in a good way.

“We can take the business in any direction we want – but you come home and you are still thinking about work!”

Chris, who lists American football among his interests and supports the Cincinnati Bengals, says: “We get some nice jobs and meet nice people.

“It’s nice to do a good job for someone and help improve things for them.

“You don’t switch off and you may be working at weekends, but if you enjoy it, that’s not a downside.”

Chris and Sandrine certainly “live” their jobs. To relax, they enjoy ski-ing holidays and the beaches of Corfu.

But Sandrine says: “We can go shopping or walk into a hotel and straight away we’re looking at the ceiling to see what kind of lights they have! We can’t really switch off!”

Work: Domestic and trade electrical suppliers

Sites: Dewsbury, Bradford, Halifax and Rochdale

Phone: 01924 465802 or 01422