Despite the rough economy that has challenged many long-time businesses, the Choi family has experienced unprecedented growth with its family-owned company, Bulbrite. Since 1971, the company has blossomed from a husband-and-wife operation out of a small, one-room office in Manhattan to its present 50,000-sq.-ft. facility in Moonachie, New Jersey.
Explained Cathy Choi, company president, “There are three key areas that keep us focused every day: Education, innovation, and customer service. Those are our core values. In addition to skill set, we evaluate all job candidates on whether their values align with ours.” Many of the 35 employees have been with the firm for 5 to 10 years or more. As a result, “They really know our customers,” Choi noted. For example, Virgilio Galang has been a key member in the warehouse for the past 17 years.
Several dozen visitors toured Bulbrite’s headquarters on the afternoon of July 22 during the big anniversary bash. The towering stacks of inventory are testament to the company’s 98-percent order fulfillment rate. Choi indicated that a lot of profit gets put back into the company, specifically in inventory to maintain the commitment to same-day order processing and shipment.
Leading the visitors into Bulbrite’s testing lab, Choi teased, “This is where the magic happens!” Inside the lab, a life-testing rack continually cycles bulbs (CFLs, LEDs, incandescents, new eco-halogens) on and off to evaluate accurate life expectancy.
There is also a “test oven” and a goniospectraphotometer booth that measures beamspread and intensity, plus an oversized, egg-shaped integrating sphere.
“Bulbrite does its own checking to make sure [the components] that come in from outside sources match our specs,” Choi said. “We are not lab-accredited, but we do these tests so that there are no surprises when we do send our bulbs out for testing.”
Bulbrite’s visitors also received an update of EISA 2007 (Energy Independence & Security Act) legislation through an informative seminar led by product marketing manager Martha Delgado.
A chartered bus took Bubrite’s guests to Thomas Edison’s laboratories (part of the National Park Service) in nearby West Orange, N.J., where a private tour through several of the complex’s buildings was arranged. Afterwards, visitors returned to the Bulbrite headquarters for a gala event commemorating the 40th anniversary complete with a congratulatory address from the city’s mayor.
“I am so proud to stand in front of you tonight to celebrate our 40th anniversary,” said Andrew Choi to the crowd. “It seems like yesterday that my wife, Barbara, and I started up our business on a hot July day like today. Our success is because of you: our great customers, sales reps, and employees, including my family. Thank you so much for all of your support through the years,” he stated.
The event culminated with a bulb-lighting ceremony where reps and customers participated by each screwing in an LED bulb into the 40th anniversary sign celebrating the landmark occasion. For the past 40 weeks, Bulbrite ran a weekly Lighting Trivia game on Facebook to coincide with the anniversary. The grand champion, Thomas Wensma from Holland, received a $50 gift certificate to Amazon.com, which he applied toward the purchase of a Bulbrite LED desk lamp. The second and third place winners — Dave Dudek and Andrea Workman respectively — received Bulbrite beach chairs.