A lot has happened since 1924, when electrical contractor and recent emigree from Austria-Hungary Max Lebersfeld opened a modest lighting shop in Newark, New Jersey. Operating a store during The Great Depression and one World War was daunting enough, but then came numerous recessions and Goliath-sized competition from big box stores that ultimately crushed family-owned lighting showrooms like Lebersfeld’s Capitol Lighting. In addition, the housing bubble burst severely impacted the state of Florida, where Capitol Lighting has several stores, and even affected the normally robust New Jersey market.
Despite the tough retail waters, it’s now four generations of ownership later – great-grandson Ken serves as CEO and his brother, Eric, is president – and the chain is stronger than ever with a total of eight locations in New Jersey and Florida. Capitol Lighting continues to receive numerous industry accolades (as both a winner and multi-time finalist in the prestigious ARTS Awards) plus various consumers’ choice awards.
The business remains a family affair, too, with Ken and Eric’s father, Herman, and uncle, Max, still involved in operations as co-chairmen and cousins Jason and Brian serving as CTO and e-commerce manager respectively.
So what do the Lebersfelds know that many other companies do not when it comes to business survival? The answer lies not in some secret formula, but rather in their perseverance and attention to detail; there’s been no resting on their laurels.
“One of our key investments has been in our people,” Eric Lebersfeld reveals. Regardless of the economy, Capitol Lighting is always hiring. “Even if you own the greatest software and operate a comprehensive Web site, if you don’t have the right people in all places, you don’t reach your potential,” he adds.
Where does Capitol Lighting look for talent? Everywhere. The firm networks in various industries as well as advertises online at Careerbuilder, Monster, and Craig’s List. Believe it or not, lighting knowledge is not a prerequisite. Continue Reading