At the helm of the new company are Tim Raubenstine, President & CEO, and Keith Fogle, Vice President & COO, who have more than 39 combined years in executive roles at the previous Hanover Lantern.
Since its start in 1970, Hanover Lantern was renowned for its American-made, premium-quality cast aluminum outdoor lighting and accent items; distributors and consumers alike were disappointed when the line strayed from its domestic roots under the most recent ownership.
Raubenstine and Fogle have good news for those who miss that original craftsmanship. The two – along with newly appointed plant manager Ken Rohrbaugh, who was a lead supervisor at Hanover for 27 years previously – have hired many former employees to come back and reprise their roles with the company.
“In its heyday, Hanover Lantern had 130 employees. Right now we have 15 people, but we expect that to grow,” Raubenstine says. The deal to purchase Hanover Lantern from Philips took nearly 18 months to be finalized, but in that time Hanover Outdoor Products was able to renovate an existing 13,000-sq.-ft. building in the Hanover area and start setting up equipment in October.
As it was in the old days, the company’s strategy will be to source component materials from local suppliers and foundries, then craft and assemble its products in Hanover for the North American market. Production is not expected to start until mid-November.
“We look forward to relaunching the company with the help of past and future employees. It’s important to us to bring back this locally owned manufacturing business to the Hanover area that will help grow our community and our company,” Raubenstine comments. The rejuvenation of the brand has personal meaning to Raubenstine and Fogle. Hanover Lantern was their first major job in the 1990s; Raubenstine was fresh out of college and Fogle came from the Army.
“Keith and I were always friends and stayed in touch,” Raubenstine notes. When word got around town that Philips might entertain the idea of selling the Hanover name, the two men decided to band together.
“Initially, we’ll relaunch some of the most exciting [original] Hanover product,” Raubenstine remarks. “Then we’ll start looking at new designs.” At its busiest, Hanover had a team of four engineers developing product.
To start, the first quality cast aluminum offering will be in four sizes (small, medium, large, and grande) and have hand-painted finishes. “Customers felt that no one else offered anything like what Hanover had. They liked the thickness of the casting, the attention to detail, and our ability to make changes on the fly — a larger company loses that flexibility,” he comments. “That is what made Hanover what it was. You could design your fixture to a degree instead of having one box, one flavor, and one option — take it or leave it. Our product gives the consumer more ownership of the fixture then just grabbing a box off of a shelf.”
In light of the tariffs on Chinese imports imposed this year, Raubenstine and Fogle predict more consumers will be looking to buy U.S.-made product. “Our distributors are excited to have that as a selling point,” Raubenstine states.
Hanover Lantern never had a trade showroom (with the exception of a few products in the Philips Lighting showroom at Dallas Market Center), but was able to show the line through its rep network and hospitality suites.
“A lot of reps who had the line earlier are excited we’re back,” Raubenstine says. “I’ve gotten many phone calls asking to be a part of it.” As of press time, KTR Associates in the New York/New Jersey area, Rottner Lighting Sales in Georgia, and Langlais Group in New England are on board.
Hanover Lantern is located at 425 East Middle Street in Hanover, Pennsylvania.
The new ELK Lifestyle brand will cover the Pomeroy and Old River Road lines, which focus primarily on entertaining, holiday, and gift items.
“The timing was right to move towards our long-term strategy of ELK branded divisions to follow the course of our flagship brand ELK Lighting and the parent company ELK Group,” explains Bradford Smith, ELK Group’s CEO. “This streamlining will make it easier than ever for our customers to shop across various product categories, styles, and price points. This migration is also seamless for customers in the fact that do not need to make any changes to take advantage of the benefits from this brand consolidation.”
The underlining brands will be jointly marketed with the newly named units for a period of time to acclimate customers to the new ELK branded divisions. Co-branded, consolidated catalogs featuring an “all-star” grouping of best sellers from each line debuted at the October High Point Market. As part of this transition, the Guild Master line was shown at ELK Group’s IHFC location (C-402) instead of its long-time, first floor space in the C&D building, which is now Arteriors Home’s showroom.
This brand consolidation allows customers to order the majority of ELK’s product on one purchase order. Stein World and Thomas Lighting products will maintain their own programs and brand identities. In addition, ELK recently opened two large distribution centers in Georgia.