Wilshire Manufacturing Co. has been handcrafting crystal chandeliers in its New England factory for the past 50 years — 2015 marks a leap forward into the future of lighting with LED innovation.
By William Chelak
[dropcap style=”letter” size=”52″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#e820a2″]A[/dropcap]s one of a handful of large-scale, domestic lighting manufacturers, Wilshire Mfg. Co. has enjoyed a solid reputation for creating fine, handcrafted crystal chandeliers and fixtures for the past 50 years. A lot happens over half a century — and the lighting industry went through a lot of changes.
Wilshire Manufacturing was at a crossroads several years ago when the company’s President Mark Segill witnessed dramatic changes within the industry that had been a major part of his life since boyhood. Not only had many of the company’s competitors already transitioned much of their operations overseas, but the product quality of numerous other manufacturers based throughout Europe and Asia rose significantly to further muddy the competitive landscape. A lighting showroom mainstay for decades, Wilshire also saw the brick-and-mortar tradition begin to erode as consumers began researching the latest lighting trends online and growing increasingly more comfortable with Internet purchases.
In addition, one of the darkest recessions in nearly 100 years financially ravaged numerous industries including those directly involved with any form of building. Commercial and high-end residential construction reached a standstill with renovations put on an indefinite hold. And, of course, “green building” proved to be more than a passing fad. Regulations had begun to emerge nationwide mandating the use of energy-efficient lighting in new building projects, while many residential and institutional building owners firmly latched onto the environmentally friendly movement to curb both energy use and costs.
A devout student of the lighting industry, who dedicates himself to understanding the latest design, application, and business trends, Segill began to see opportunity in those challenges. He realized few companies could match Wilshire’s custom capabilities in producing fine, hand-crafted crystal fixtures detailed to meticulous client specifications on-site in weeks rather than the months it would normally take competitors to outsource the work overseas. Quality was also never a concern since Wilshire can count numerous satisfied customers in high-end environments ranging from The Ritz Carlton and Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino to the Copley Plaza in Boston.
“Wilshire has spent the last five decades dedicated to exquisite craftsmanship and custom design,” Segill notes. “We also provide in-house manufacturing and customization capabilities that rival any found in the United States. Our path became apparent after touring trade shows worldwide and speaking in-depth with our global network of showroom partners, customers, and business associates. The next step was to blend the very best of what we do with the finest technology available in the marketplace.”
Fortunately for both companies, Steve Kaufman, a 20-year technology industry veteran with a background in solid-state lighting, had reached the same conclusion. Under his guidance in 2013, Wilshire Manufacturing and Vantage Lighting – a well-
established manufacturer of commercial and architectural LED lighting – came together as separate divisions under the umbrella of Lexington Lighting Group, LLC. With Kaufman serving as CEO of Lexington and Mark Segill as Wilshire’s President, the companies now share the headquarters and manufacturing resources of their 200,000-sq.-ft. facility in Taunton, Massachusetts.
“We set out to bring the latest LED innovation to decorative lighting,” Kaufman explains. “Many previous decorative products used LED retrofits, which were extremely unaesthetic. They had poor color quality, high flicker, and low brightness and they lacked the warmth and sparkle of incandescent fixtures. Sophisticated lighting buyers deserved better,” he remarks. “Wilshire presented an excellent opportunity to blend history and sophistication with unsurpassed innovation. Through our joint efforts and resources, we have designed the next generation of LED decorative lighting from the ground up. This two-year effort included artistically combining world-class optics, plus the latest advances in high color LED technology and dimming electronics, with the new modern designs of Wilshire’s crystal fixtures.”
“Our passion was to revolutionize the category with the finest collection of LED chandeliers and fixtures found anywhere in the world,” Segill states. “By combining the strengths and expertise of both companies, we were able to create and launch a new, innovative LED product line that surpasses the performance, quality, and beauty of anything else in the marketplace. This included introducing dozens of Wilshire chandeliers and wall sconces from our Modena, Sienna, and Sofia collections as well as several new product lines with our new, patent-pending PrisMatrix™ LED system at the International Lighting Market in Dallas this past January.
“We were so successful with this new design that many of the visitors to our showroom didn’t even realize that the crystal fixtures on display were actually LED. As a result, we were not only thrilled with the reception, but also with the next stage of our evolution. For more than 50 years, we have repeatedly re-invented ourselves to meet industry and customer needs while never forgetting our quality-first heritage,” Segill affirms.
Originally launched as the American Lighting Fixture Company by Mark’s father William Segill in 1959, the business started out selling more than 1,500 separate fixtures to retailers located throughout New England until a devastating fire destroyed the company’s first location in 1966. After relocating to Newton, Mass. and rebranding itself as Wilshire, the family-owned and -operated company then expanded its presence nationwide as a leading importer and distributor of high-end European lighting fixtures and components.
Setting the stage for the next 40 years, Wilshire purchased the equipment necessary to design, create, and customize its own glass and gold-plated dining, hall, and bath lighting fixtures on-site. Shortly after successfully introducing these products nationally in 1981 at the Dallas Market Center, Wilshire then settled at its present location under the helm of William Segill and his three sons: Mark, Paul, and Robert.
Over the past 35 years, the Segills combined their talents to continue their formidable reputation for selling fine-quality chandeliers, wall sconces, and bath lighting to sophisticated residential and hospitality customers. Part of their success is attributed to the family’s ability to engineer and source high-end components from around the world and then hand-assembling each fixture on premises — a lost art for many lighting companies currently operating on U.S. soil.
By pairing Wilshire’s enhanced manufacturing and customization abilities with Vantage Lighting’s innovative LED research, the two companies have been able to replace the challenges of previous LED technologies with its new PrisMatrix technology.
Achieved through years of research and development – which resulted in the successful separation of the electrical, optical, and thermal management sub-systems within the chandelier – the PrisMatrix series was an immediate hit with many of the lighting showroom customers visiting Wilshire at the Spectrum showroom in the Dallas Market Center in January. Throughout the market, buyers and industry executives were impressed by the range of traditional and modern decorative fixtures highlighting energy-efficient, sparkling, warm, and
multi-directional patterns of lighting.
Wilshire has already contracted with numerous leading showrooms throughout the U.S. to display its latest fine-crystal decorative designs with the PrisMatrix LED system. Plans are also underway to introduce its traditional, transitional, and contemporary crystal lighting fixtures with the PrisMatrix technology over the coming year.
“As result of our combined strengths, Wilshire and Vantage are now well-positioned to supply customers with innovative LED lighting products that rival the quality and style of virtually anything else in the marketplace,” Kaufman comments. “Few companies can match our U.S. manufacturing and technological capabilities. This includes designing, finishing, polishing, and hand-crafting our sophisticated crystal fixtures to the most demanding customer specifications as well as prototyping new products in-house within days.”
Wilshire will be exhibiting their new designs in the Spectrum showroom (4432.09 TM) at this month’s International Lighting Market in Dallas.