In every major corporation, the heads of the business meet around a conference table to discuss ideas, how to move the company forward and grow the enterprise. When you are in a family business, like Capitol Lighting, that conference table is better known as your dining table. Ken Lebersfeld reflected on sitting around the dinner table as a child where his father, Herman, would ask for his and his brother’s (Eric) and sister’s (Joan) opinion about the business. “As a family business, my father would always tell us about the things going on at work and ask our opinions. He involved us all at an early age. He made business interesting” said Ken.
Capitol Lighting was first started in 1924, by Ethel and Max Lebersfeld on Spring Avenue in Newark, New Jersey. Arthur (Ethel and Max’s son), followed by his two sons, Herman and Max, joined the family business as the second and third generations of the Lebersfeld family.
After Herman Lebersfeld graduated from Lehigh University, there was no question that he would enter the family business. Eight years later, his brother, Max, joined the company and spent the first years overseeing the initial phase of computerization. Max went on to be the point person for in-house data processing until 2009.
“We work hard to be honest with each other and not let things get between us. In this company, we’re like a team and we take that responsibility very seriously. We understand that if we take care of the company, the company will take care of us.” -Eric Lebersfeld
Ken and Eric Lebersfeld lead Capitol Lighting as CEO and President/CMO of the company respectively. Ken has held just about every position in the company, learning the ropes first hand before assuming the CEO role. Eric uses his keen sense of marketing with his long-term sales experience to drive the marketing arm of Capitol Lighting.
Working for Capitol Lighting is a family affair and each person who works here has brought their own experience and knowledge to grow the business in different areas.
As the fourth generation of Lebersfeld’s, Ken and Eric work hand-in-hand with their cousins Jason, Vice President and CTO, and Brian, eCommerce VP. Thanks to Jason and Brian’s skill sets, the company was able to found and grow the online channel to be a changemaker in lighting sales. This expansion has moved the Capitol Lighting footprint far beyond their New Jersey beginnings to a national industry player.
Eric and Ken’s grandfather, Arthur, was the visionary for the business. He helped shape the entire lighting fixture industry. For Arthur, being a good business person meant doing more than just business; it meant giving back. This included philanthropy, being a steward in the community and donating both time and money in a meaningful way. The current generations of Lebersfelds continue that tradition. The company takes great pride in the dozens of charities they and their staff support including working with Habitat for Humanity. Capitol Lighting consistently donates over $100,000 annually to Habitat and helps build homes as an opportunity to engage employees in the spirit of volunteering in the community.
The Lebersfeld’s view their 150 employees as extended family members. Even if they don’t share the last name, all members of the team share the familial bond. Every individual is treated with respect and Capitol Lighting works hard to keep their employees at the forefront.
Evolving Over Time
Capitol Lighting has come a long way since 1924. Instead of everyone having their hands in everything, the company has put the right family members in the right roles to manage their respective part of the business. There is trust across the board that is also shared with a lot of love, in typical family fashion. Each family member’s contributions have helped the business flourish anad evolve with the changing times.
“My best piece of advice that I have for my children is to go out in the world and learn from others so that you have something to bring back. Follow your passion and if it leads you back to the company, wonderful. “ -Ken Lebersfeld
To all the father’s out there, Capitol Lighting wishes you a “Happy Father’s Day.” As for the Lebersfeld’s, they will be sitting around the dinner table enjoying their family bonds and no doubt planning the future of Capitol Lighting.