enLIGHTenment Magazine pays tribute to some of the most illustrious members of our industry.
Category: Legend, Retailer
Herman Lebersfeld, Capitol Lighting
The Early Days:
The real legend was my dad, Arthur Lebersfeld; he was the visionary. He believed in using all of the cubic feet of a lighting showroom space – not just the ceiling. The ceiling was for lighting, but the walls were for pictures, mirrors, and artwork. The floor space was for furniture and accessories. He built the Capitol Lighting of the future in his day. My mom, Rose, worked with him growing the business.
I never really thought of any other future for myself other than Capitol Lighting. I used to go to work with my father many weekends and summers, working in the warehouse assembling fixtures and just getting in the way. My brother, Max, acted as the cashier when he was just nine years old on our busiest day when we closed the Newark N.J. store. When I came into the business after graduating from Lehigh University, we had one store – and that’s when my dad started our expansion.
It was all my brother and I could do to keep up with my father. We followed in his footsteps, growing the business working together as a family. My wife, Adele, was our human resource administrator. At one time we were a chain of 10 stores. As business changed, we also changed: opening stores and closing unproductive ones. As our children came of age, we encouraged them to think about joining the family business. My son Ken was the first to enter in 1983 after graduating from Emory University, followed by my son, Eric. Max’s sons, Jason and Brian, joined when they graduated from college. Today we have four stores in New Jersey and four stores in Florida. Our biggest store is our Internet 1-800 LIGHTING.COM business and now my daughter, Joan, has also joined our Internet staff.
The challenge today is to provide interesting and informative information on our Web site and in all our Web initiatives while – at the same time – offer the best lighting brands at the best prices on the Internet site and in our stores. The world is our competition, not just the lighting competitor in town. Our latest initiative comes from an idea I had 20 years ago. My sons call these new stores “bricks and clicks.” These new store [footprints] are smaller than current Capitol Lighting stores. The customer can see and touch a selection of lighting fixtures on display, but our Internet store is presented on large flat screen TVs so our lighting consultants can help the customer make a selection from over 600,000 lamps, fixtures, mirrors, and accessories on our site.
What Lies Ahead:
My sons and nephews are the fourth generation of our family running the business. They have taken the reins and have set their sights on the future to build 100 of these bricks and clicks stores across the country. They are ever-mindful that it can only be done by building a “family” of loyal, dedicated employees at every level to serve our customers with the best service and best values. This year – 2013 – is our 89th year in business, and all indications are that we be here for the next generation.
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