After a valiant effort to rebound from a fall on June 17th that resulted in traumatic brain injury, Rick Wiedemer, second-generation CEO of manufacturer Hinkley Lighting in Ohio, passed away peacefully on August 3 with his family and loved ones by his side.
A memorial service will be held at St. Christopher Church, 20141 Detroit Road, Rocky River, Ohio on Friday, August 16 at 12:00 p.m. Friends may call at the Busch Funeral Home, 21369 Center Ridge Road in Rocky River from 2-7 p.m. on Thursday, August 15.
“We are heartbroken to lose our father,” said Jess Wiedemer, President of Hinkley Lighting. “He’s our hero and our inspiration and the best businessperson we have ever known. And he was a better father and grandfather. To say we will miss him cannot adequately capture what we are all feeling. But we know he is at peace now.”
“July marked Dad’s 50th year with Hinkley Lighting. My brother, Jess, and I are committed to fulfilling his vision for the company and leading its success in the future. We know he would not want it any other way,” said Eric Wiedemer, Vice President & General Counsel of Hinkley.
Rick, 72, is survived by his sons, Jess and Eric of Rocky River, Ohio, and daughter Kristi of Denver, Colorado, and his seven grandchildren.
A beloved leader in the decorative lighting industry, Rick had the respect of his peers, customers, and sales representatives. He was passionate about the lighting business and was humble – yet proud – of how the company flourished from a leader in outdoor lighting fixtures into a comprehensive manufacturer of interior and exterior lighting for residential and hospitality spaces under his guidance. He actively served on the Lighting Board of Governors at the Dallas Market Center and was an enthusiastic support of the Market Choice Awards, co-sponsored by the Dallas Market Center and enLIGHTenment Magazine.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to interview Rick at length regarding the company’s history for a feature article on its 90th anniversary (June 2012) and for both the Regency Ceiling Fans acquisition this past spring and his Legend of the Industry award from enLIGHTenment Magazine in April. Despite his schedule and the subject matter, Rick always made time to speak with me, even if he were also traveling on the road himself.
He wasn’t one to speak off the cuff; he wanted to give his full attention to the questions asked as well as his answers. Rick was diplomatic, not wanting any of his observations or remarks to be misconstrued unwittingly.
I believe he practiced that thoughtfulness and careful consideration in his leadership at the company as well as in the Cleveland community, where he served on several local community and hospital boards.
When I last interviewed him several months ago, he was very excited for the upcoming American Lighting Association (ALA) Conference in Phoenix, not only because he was the Conference Chair, but for his induction into the Hall of Fame. It was at my first ALA Conference in 1994 that I met Rick and instantly realized that he was a vital member of the organization. He was respected, yes, but also very popular with everyone due to his good nature.
In a move not common for many CEOs, Rick earned the Certified Lighting Consultant (CLC) designation as part of the organization’s educational program to further advance his lighting knowledge. In his earlier years with Hinkley Lighting, he made a point to travel to meet nearly every customer the company had in effort to hear first-hand the challenges of the business and, in so doing, forged many enduring relationships.
In our recent conversation, he expressed great admiration for his father and enjoyed working with him side-by-side each day in his earlier years with the company. His father’s business style was different than Rick’s in that he kept the business life separate from family life. Rick took the opposite approach, introducing his children (Eric, Jess, and Kristi) to the business and what was involved in running a successful company. He was as proud of them for forging their own career paths as he was when they each worked at Hinkley in key visible roles that were engaged with customers. In February 2015, he formally announced a leadership transition, naming Jess President & Chief Operating Officer and Eric as Vice President & General Counsel. Years earlier, Kirsti had retired from her involvement in the firm, relocating to Colorado and raising her family there.
Rick Wiedemer will be missed by all who knew him on both a professional and personal level.