Leaders and Legends: Sam Minoff
Sam Minoff, Kichler
The Early Years:
When I got out of the Navy after WWII, I worked for a lighting company and always wanted to go into business for myself. I met a widow, Mrs. Kichler, who was trying unsuccessfully to run her deceased husband’s business. I bought her business with $2,500 cash and a note for the balance.
Key to Success:
What keeps me energized is the sense of accomplishment I get from starting new directions and new products and seeing them succeed. Knowing that I am supplying so many people with jobs and long-lasting careers in the lighting industry has also been very gratifying.
My advice to my sons [who are in the business] is to always look for ways to grow, but watch the downside risk. Remember to treat all of your customers, suppliers, and employees as friends. And be very aware of all of the things changing in the lighting industry – from technology to the supply chain.
Our greatest challenge still remains the same – how do we continue to deliver the best value to the industry. To do so means that we have to continually innovate in order to excel in quality, design, and service to our customers.
Changes I’ve Seen:
I have watched the lighting industry change over the years. In the 1940s and ’50s, the simplest products were made and progressed to MR-16s and many other new LEDs. Other significant changes have been the advent of the ALA serving as a [mouthpiece] for the industry, the movement of production to offshore suppliers, the closing of many manufacturers who did not keep up with the times, the entry of many fine new lighting companies, and the huge [presence and success] of the e-commerce market.
What Lies Ahead:
New lighting technologies are exciting to us in the industry, however, for the end user, it’s still about beautiful and functional lighting. We now have the ability to deliver that with innovative and energy-saving technology. With the small size and low energy usage of LED, we are seeing lighting used in more places than ever before, both inside and outside of the home. In addition, designers have an unlimited palette of lighting solutions to create new, exciting, and unexpected lighting effects.