Artcraft Fluorescent Lighting Corporation
|Headquarters||Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States|
|Number of locations||New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Washington, DC|
|Area served||United States (mostly east of the Mississippi)|
|Key people||Louis Levy, President|
|Products||Fluorescent fixtures, Neon Signs, Electric Fans|
|Revenue||US$ 50 million annually approximately(1995 terms)|
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Artcraft Fluorescent Lighting Corporation was one of the three most influential business forces in fluorescent lighting fixture development and production in the United States from the commercial introduction of the fluorescent lamp at the 1939 World's Fair and was the pioneer of hidden showcase lighting in the world.
Louis Levy started the business from money earned by assembling radios when he was about 20 years old. He was very intuitive. Louis Levy and Max Wittenberg started the Artcraft Fluorescent Lighting Corporation about 1940. Mr. Wittenberg managed the business, sales, and accounting office and Mr. Levy managed the manufacturing, fixture development, and production department. Fluorescent lighting was very new to consumers, businesses, and professionals, who were familiar with incandescent lighting. The transition to this newer form of lighting was not easy.
The benefits of fluorescent lighting were lower operating costs, more light for the same power input, and less maintenance. The idea took hold. The company had over 200 employees at the factory and branch offices. Starting about 1959, neon signs also were manufactured. The company began selling fixtures in the New York City area. They opened showroom offices in Manhattan, and then in Washington, DC and Philadelphia, PA about 1947, and began making and selling display cases and electric fans. Some customers opted for being on the installment plan, which was a growing trend then. Sales and manufacturing skyrocketed by the mid-1950s east of the Mississippi, and many other companies were beginning to make fixtures. Max Wittenberg died in the late 1950s and Mr. Levy continued operations with a new partner until about 1968 when he sold the corporation. He was interested in going into the finance business. The company remained in existence until about 2002 in Brooklyn, NY.
The corporation grew over time and was at its pinnacle in 1952. Maintaining a "AAA" Dunn and Bradstreet rating was not a simple task back then. While overseeing Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Payroll, Profit & Loss Statements, banking correspondence, extension of credit to customers together with two full-time accountants and five to seven bookkeepers and support staff, among other duties, it was apparent the corporation was a profitable entity with Louis Levy and Max Wittenberg being the sole owners. Company stock offerings were becoming popular, and issuance began with the employees yet not on the major exchanges. Very few businesses had that credit rating for an extended duration, analogous to a 5A, ER3, 1 rating today.
The three major companies from the beginning were, Lightolier, the largest, purchased by Philips Electronics Group Brand recently, with approximately $500 million in annual sales, followed by Artcraft Fluorescent Lighting Corporation, and Globe Lighting, originating from New York City.
Past officers included: Louis Levy—President, a pioneer of fluorescent light fixture manufacturing, Max Wittenberg—Secretary and Treasurer, Jay Stern—Vice President, Bernard Lugar—CFO, Chief Financial Officer, William Fishkin—General Counsel. Previous locations and operations were at Brooklyn, NY (original factory), New York, NY, Manhattan (showroom), Philadelphia, PA (showroom & sales office), and Washington, DC (showroom & sales office). See visitor traffic to this page last month.
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Moody's Dividend Record - Artcraft Fluorescent Corp., 7% partie, pfd, 1948, p. 143
Luger, Bernard (May 1995), "Documenting a corporation", Sillman family private collection [Past United States Health Education and Welfare, Regional Audit Director] 1: 2
Zaslowsky, Esq., Daniel (May 1995), "An era a long time ago", Sillman family private collection 2: 3
Levy, Paul (son of Louis Levy, October 1998), "Early industry leaders in New York City", Sillman family private collection 3: 4
Sillman, Suzanne (daughter of Louis Levy, August 1996), "An employee's perspective", Sillman family private collection 4: 5
Sillman, Richard (grandson of Louis Levy, January 2011), "A retrospective look back", Sillman family private collection 5: 6
Lighting the Way, Natural museum of American History, © 2012 Smithsonian Institution and at http://americanhistory.si.edu/lighting/bios/photo1.htm
- Bernard Lugar, CFO, Documenting a corporation, Sillman Family Private Collection, 1995
- Industrial Directory of New York State, 1949ed, 1953ed
- Lloyd Newman, Former member of the Board, New York University, 2013
- Suzanne Sillman, An employee's perspective, Sillman Family Private Collection, 1996
- John H. Campbell, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, The University of California, Berkeley, California, The History and Technical Evolution of High Frequency Lighting, pages 1-2, 1977
- Mark Stanley Rea, PH.D. FIES, Editor-In-Chief, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The Lighting Handbook and Reference, 1993
- Arthur A. Bright and Rupert Maclaurin, Economic Factors Influencing The Development and Introduction of The Fluorescent Lamp, The Journal of Political Economy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, [MIT], University of Chicago Press, 51, No.5, 1943, pp. 429-450
- New York State, Division of Corporations, State Records
- Paul Levy, Early industry leaders in New York City, Sillman Family Private Collection, 1998
- Daniel Zaslowsky, Esq., An era a long time ago, Sillman Family Private Collection, 1995