By Emily Delzell
Hinkley Lighting’s success is grounded in a foundation built through nearly a century as a family business. Founded in 1922 and owned by the Wiedemer family since the 1930s, Hinkley Lighting has been fortunate in its ability to draw on a deep well of organizational knowledge, says CEO Rick Wiedemer.
“We have a third and fourth generation of family in the business, and there’s a lot of history and knowledge that goes with that,” he says. “We also have many long-term employees, due to our culture of operating as family business in which everyone has a voice. We draw on that experience and knowledge every day.”
He notes that the fourth generation—his sons Jess Wiedemer, president and COO, and Eric Wiedemer, vice president and general counsel—“is bringing in new ideas and new energy, pushing us forward into the future.”
Rick Wiedemer joined Hinkley Lighting in 1969, directly out of college. Jess Wiedemer also came directly from college, while Eric Wiedemer was an attorney in private practice before joining the company full time in 2010. All three were introduced to the company at an early age.
“Eric and I in our teens did odds jobs and maintenance,” says Jess Wiedemer, who spends the majority of his time on operations, finance and strategy. “We assembled light fixtures and did all the processes related to creating them from start to finish. That was a unique opportunity, as was experiencing different roles in the company.”
That wide-ranging experience led them to different areas of interest but gave them all a broad exposure to every aspect of the business.
“All three of us have areas we’re focused on, but as a smaller family company of about 100 employees, we’re able to touch and influence all areas,” says Jess Wiedemer.
In addition to his role as general counsel, Eric Wiedemer works closely on new product development. “I work with our great team of in-house product managers and designers, as well as outside vendors, to bring new products to market,” he says.
Eric Wiedemer says a large part of their success, and the company’s ability to innovate, lies in the collaborative culture the family has cultivated.
“We rely on our employees and give them platforms so they can contribute creative ideas and unique new approaches. Having that foundation helps us continue to come up with innovative products, programs and ways to go market,” says Eric Wiedemer.
Rick Wiedemer, who is working toward his 50th anniversary with Hinkley, has begun stepping back to let his sons take the lead, says it’s important to pay attention to your customers and keep a direct dialogue open.
“We’re face to face with our customers as often as possible to get unfiltered information,” he says.
Blending creativity, quality, and technology
All three Hinkley brands—Hinkley Lighting, Fredrick Ramond (the company’s luxury line) and Hinkley Landscape Lighting—benefit from the company’s emphasis on incorporating the latest advances in technology, materials and design.
The advent of LED technology, says Eric Wiedemer, has created new possibilities for taking lighting design far beyond traditional bulb-and-socket paradigms.
“We are creating unique new designs that weren’t possible 10 years ago,” he says, pointing to the dynamic Folio chandelier, which is composed of framed, illuminated LED panels that rotate to create diverse angles.
Hinkley is also committed to keeping its technology green, and recently upgraded its LED to cutting-edge high-lumen output integrated solutions. It is also innovating with materials, and incorporated a non-metallic, resin-based product into the new Coastal Elements collection that molds and forms much like cast aluminum but lasts years longer in harsh environments.
“We are striving for creative product design, high quality and craftmanship, and long-lasting energy,” says Eric Wiedemer.
Room to grow
In 2015, Hinkley Lighting completed the move of all its offices into its high-tech 300,000-squarefoot headquarters and distribution facility in Avon Lake, which has been the site of distribution operations since 2009.
“The move has catapulted our ability to serve the customer in the time frame they’ve come to expect, and provides a platform for what we think is an industry best in the time from order to shipping,” says CEO Rick Wiedemer.
President and COO Jess Wiedemer says the company fulfills 75 percent of its orders with same-day shipments.
“We’ve also added capacity in marketing, product development and customer care and expanded innovative interactive spaces to encourage collaboration and engagement in the creative process and with our products,” he says.
Rick Wiedemer says the company has always strived to create a workplace where it’s fun to work hard.
“We’re grateful for our success. Our community looks forward to coming to work every day, and I think they’re proud of the product we make,” he says.
Huntington was instrumental in providing the financing for the headquarters and for subsequent expansions and ongoing acquisition of technology, says Rick Wiedemer.
“They are an integral part of the team that got us where we are and will get us where we’re going,” says Jess Wiedemer.
For more information, visit hinkleylighting.com.