Tuesday, September 2, 2014

101 Years Old and Still on the Job at Capitol Lighting

Talk about company loyalty. Statistics show most people change jobs a many as nine or 10 times during the course of their lifetimes before retiring. Hy Goldman is not of that camp. He has been working for the same company, Capitol Lighting, for the past 73 years - since June 1, 1941 when he was 28 years old, to be exact. And even though the World War II Army veteran lives in a senior housing community, he has no plans on retiring anytime soon despite the fact he recently celebrated his 101st birthday.

The family owned Capitol Lighting recently held a birthday bash for Goldman at its Route 10 East Hanover store complete with cake and ice cream.

Goldman is an artist of sorts. For the past 12 years he has been working at the East Hanover store where he has his own workshop he calls his “studio” on the second-floor.

Goldman takes broken and discarded electrical lighting fixtures and refurbishes them, adding wiring to many, finding blades for ceiling fans or adding new glass globes to transform old lighting fixtures into something brand new to sell in the clearance section.

So, why does he do it, why is he still working when just about everybody else lucky enough reach age 101 would have retired decades earlier?

“It’s the challenge,” he said. “It keeps me mentally going and my body still moving.”

He was hired at the original Capital Lighting Store on Springfield Avenue in Newark in 1941 by Ethel Lebersfeld, who co-founded Capitol Lighting in 1924 along with her husband Max Lebersfeld, an electrical contractor and immigrant from Austria-Hungary. The family-owned business is now under the direction of a fourth generation of Lebersfelds.

Goldman was working for Capital when he was drafted into the Army in 1943, two years after being hired. He came out of the Army in 1946 and rejoined Capitol.

“In those days we did everything,” Goldman said.

“There was no technology. We swept the floors and sold merchandise and set up displays. We unloaded trucks. We knew what inventory we had in our store by memory. Today you look it up on a computer.”

Ethel Lebersfeld was the grandmother of current Capitol Lighting Co-Chairmen Max and Herman Lebersfeld.

“I can remember the 1950s coming in when I was 10 and 11 and playing with the cash registers,” said Max Lebersfeld, who was on hand at the East Hanover store for the birthday celebration. “Hy was a fixture then.”

Goldman saw the growth of the company from the one store to its current status of four New Jersey stores and two in Florida.

Meanwhile, Hy Goldman, still comes to work four day a week, and still drives his car as he does so.

“What am I going to do, sit around and grow old?” Goldman wanted to know.

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