From humble beginnings in the basement of a northeast Philadelphia row house, Simkar Corporation is now among the largest fluorescent lighting fixture manufacturers in the United States. In 1946, two partners, Mr. Simon & Mr. Karger, founded Simkar in Philadelphia, PA. Shortly thereafter, the founding partners sold the company to Barney Bernstein and Charlie Trowbridge.
The company began strictly as an assembler of lighting fixtures from purchased components, which were sold to local electrical distributors. As sales volume increased and geographic areas served by the company expanded, Simkar broadened its product line and increased production capacity, including the acquisition of a metal fabrication capability. From the beginning, lighting products utilizing fluorescent light sources predominated the product line.
In 1958, Simkar had reached its first $1M in sales.
In 1964 Simkar, then incorporated, was recognized throughout the eastern United States. For a period of time in the early 1970’s the company was traded publicly. During this time, Simkar expanded their product base to include popular fluorescent products such as strips, wraps, industrials and troffers. A broad base of wholesale electrical distributors viewed the Simkar line as a consistent, reliable and competitive source of standard fluorescent lighting for their stock inventory.
During the 1970s, the company initiated a new market and product direction in order to capitalize on the growing demand for consumer do-it-yourself (DIY) home lighting. These DIY products featured simplicity in installation and economic value. Simkar also expanded its product line to include decorative and special purpose home fixtures, in addition to utility lighting, during this period.
Victaulic Company of America, a privately held business, acquired Simkar in 1986. Although Simkar continued to operate as a freestanding organization, substantial investments were made in the company’s facility, equipment, and related production capability, which allowed the business to carry out an aggressive program of expansion and new strategic direction. During the mid-eighties, Simkar began an association with The Home Depot. Their remarkable growth contributed substantially to Simkar’s growth and profitability over the next several years.
Simkar was purchased from Victaulic in July of 1997. The company remains privately held. At this time, Simkar developed a strategy to build its current fluorescent business on both the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) and the residential sides (DIY) of the industry through superior service and quality products. In addition, Simkar planned to broaden its product offerings through a variety of means, including acquisition.
In June 2001, Simkar launched a very successful expansion into exit and emergency products, which continued to promote the characteristics known to Simkar products, such as simple installation, economic value, and availability.
In March 2003, Simkar acquired CEW Lighting, Inc., a leading manufacturer of High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting fixtures and components. The addition of CEW, which is a complementary line to the company’s fluorescent products, improves Simkar’s visibility at distribution as an independent single source lighting supplier. The name CEW has been phased out and all products are now sold under the Simkar name.
Today, after more than 55 years, Simkar remains committed to superior product quality and service, product line diversification and acquisition, and investment in both our core customers as well as our channel partners. It is this commitment that shapes Simkar for the next 50 years and beyond.