30 Under 30: Jesse Cohen, Artcraft

How long at the company: 4 years

How I ended up in lighting: I have a lot of family in the industry. My father, uncle, brother, and grandfather all worked, or are currently working, in lighting. So, I think it is fair to say that I was born into it.

What I would be doing if not in the lighting industry: I got my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and worked in that for some time before deciding that it was not the career path for me and switched into lighting. If I did not have the opportunity to come and work with my family, there is a good chance that I would have continued with engineering or moved onto project management in a different industry.

Job accomplishment that I am most proud of to date: It’s hard to pinpoint one great accomplishment, as most of what I do is like a year-long project that starts with looking at new designs and continues right through to when the product is introduced and sold, then starts over again. I will say that I get a great sense of accomplishment when the show in Dallas is completed. It is the culmination of all the hard work we did in getting new and interesting designs, setting up the showroom, and showing everyone what we’ve been working on. It’s a great feeling!

What I like about the industry: I’m not sure if other industries have so many family-run operations as the lighting industry, but it’s something that I really love about lighting. I see showrooms, sales reps, and manufacturers all bringing in their families to grow their businesses and continue what their predecessors built. In addition, everyone seems to know each other in lighting. People in this industry have been working together for so many years and have formed such great relationships. It’s great to see and to be a part of.

What I wish were different about the industry: Not that this is unique to our industry, but we are very reliant on other countries like China for our manufacturing. I know that it was different before my time, when most of our manufacturing was done in-house. I’m proud to say that we still do some manufacturing, but it would be nice not to have to travel overseas so frequently and work with our own manufacturing team more. That being said, there are worse things in life than having to travel far for work, so I don’t want to complain too much about it.

Where I hope my lighting career will take me over the next 20 years: I plan to continue working hard and eventually lead the company with my brother, just as my father did with his brother and their business partner. Twenty years is a long time, so it is difficult to anticipate where the road will take me over that time. My focus now is just to keep working and improving so that when the time comes, I’m ready for all the challenges that will present themselves.

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