As an engineer with an entrepreneurial spirit, Harold E. Williams founded the H.E. Williams Company in Carthage, Missouri, in 1921. It all started with just Harold and his assistant in a rented 25’-by-50’ room. In the beginning, H.E. made kitchen utensils, static signs, cold storage lockers and even bicycle parts. He would finish operations for the day and sell products door-to-door at night.
The Automobile Years
By the mid-1920s, the company was making various gadgets for automobiles, including folding luggage racks that mounted to running boards, canopies for rumble seats, radiator bug screens, underslung creepers and seat cushions.
H.E. acquired many different patents for products and their production. By the 1930s, gas and radiator caps, sun visors and antennae were being produced under H.E. Williams’ patents.
A light went on
In 1939, H.E. attended the World’s Fair in New York City. There, he witnessed the introduction of fluorescent lighting, which he knew would transform his company. He immediately began engineering and manufacturing fixtures to house the new light source. By December of that year, he was ordering machinery to produce lamp brackets.
First in fluorescent
By the early 1940s, H.E. had engineered a suite of fluorescent fixtures and began exhibiting his products at industry trade shows. During World War II, Williams also made ammunition casings, cable pulleys, and bomb clips for various aircrafts. By the late 1940s, lighting was at the forefront of the business, and the factory – which was located on historic route 66 – was expanded to double the square footage.
Through the 1950s and 60s, Williams continued to introduce new products for educational facilities, retail shops, and commercial office spaces. H.E. developed a line of outlet and switch boxes which featured preset nails to save time on the job site – an industry standard today. Not only did H.E. engineer the products, but he also designed manufacturing equipment that would meet his production standards. It was during this time that John Williams, H.E.’s son, began learning the lighting business under the direction of his father.
Room to grow
Staying at the center of the American lighting industry, the operation moved to our current home on Fairview Avenue in 1971. Still in Carthage, Missouri, the new facility offered more than double the square footage for our growing company.
An era of change
The second generation of Williams leadership began in 1980 when John became the CEO. Keeping the tradition of exceptional quality alive, our powder-coat paint system was installed, immediately setting Williams apart from the competition. In the late 80s Globe Illumination was purchased, and the equipment was relocated to Carthage, allowing Williams to manufacture parabolic fixtures.
Three generations strong
Having worked part-time at the business throughout his youth, Mark Williams, John’s son, joined the firm full time as Customer Service Representative in the late 1980s. For several years, he worked in various departments from production to marketing. In the early 90s, Infinity Lighting was acquired – expanding the product line to include downlighting. In the mid 1990s, Mark became CEO, starting the 3rd generation of Williams leadership. Under Mark’s direction, the first CNC fabrication equipment was purchased enabling Williams to grow the product line more quickly and offer custom modifications.
To meet the increasing demands of the lighting industry, the facility was added on to in 2005. A first-class showroom, additional office space, fabrication equipment, an enhanced powder-coat paint system, more assembly lines, and warehousing capabilities were included in the 100,000 square foot expansion. The Williams portfolio grew, once again, with the acquisitions of outdoor and healthcare lighting companies.
The future is now
When LED took hold of the commercial lighting industry, Williams engineered new solutions around the source. With the advancement of technology, lighting quickly evolved to include a more dynamic offering, including connectivity solutions for smart buildings and human centric lighting.
Legacy of illumination
For 100 years, Williams has manufactured to the exacting standards established from the beginning – with quality and performance in mind. Still made in Carthage, and still the best.