Gross Electric Inc.
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Chuck McKenna
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
George J. “Joe” Gross was sent to Toledo, Ohio, in 1910 to close a store for the Peerless Light Company, a Chicago-based manufacturer of gas mantles. Instead of closing the downtown Toledo store, Joe ran it for six months in exchange for a percentage of the profits. He later bought the store and established the Gross Electric Fixture Company, which is now known as Gross Electric Inc. (GEI).
In the early days, the business sold radios, kitchen mixers and lamps among other small items. As the business grew, Joe expanded his inventory. In the 1950s, the business added larger appliances, such as televisions. At the same time, GEI added a separate electrical wholesale division to serve local contractors around Toledo.
When Joe passed away in 1959, his son, Richard Gross, proudly took over the business. Richard eliminated the company’s appliance division in 1963, shifting the focus to lighting and electrical supply.
To this day, GEI is a family-owned and -operated business. Richard’s daughter, Laurie Gross, joined the company in 1975 and took on the role of president in 1992. Her brother, Joe Gross, joined the company in 1982 and became vice president of GEI in 1997. Taking advantage of changing technology, the Gross siblings have expanded the business steadily for more than 20 years. While GEI still focuses on the same market as it did in the mid-1960s, customers have come to rely on the team for more than just fixtures and wires.
The GEI showroom offers a bountiful array of unique functional and decorative lighting for both the home and commercial space. The company’s inventory includes both interior and exterior lighting in countless styles, sizes and colors to fit any décor scheme. Contractors and homeowners alike can browse for just the right piece, whether that is recessed lighting, a pendant for the dining room, sconces for the entry or a chandelier for the hall.
The business also offers door and cabinet hardware, home accents and furniture. An experienced design team utilizes a strong mix of technology and decorative experience to help consumers, builders and contractors create a beautiful, functional and well-lit space.
At GEI’s wholesale counter, contractors, electricians and brave do-it-yourselfers can find a massive inventory of electrical supplies. Many of GEI’s customers are electrical contractors, performing new construction or renovation products. The experienced and educated sales team helps these customers choose products that will help to safely and effectively power up a home or business. Customers will find all of the tools necessary for the job, as well as generators and fire safety equipment and alarm systems. The inventory also includes conduit, controls, fuses, fasteners and more.
GEI’s inventory alone is enough to draw the interest of contractors and homeowners; however, Laurie, Joe and the crew take it to the next level. “We are known for our selection of quality products,” Laurie explains, “But our service sets us apart, as well. We do commercial, industrial and residential design, as well as retrofits, job layouts and energy audits.”
The design team works with individuals, businesses and contractors to determine the most efficient and attractive means of lighting a space. All of GEI’s consultants are trained through the American Lighting Association and/or the Illuminating Engineering Society. Whether consulting on a new construction project, a renovation or just with a family looking for a change of scenery in the home, GEI’s design team is well-versed in creating good atmosphere.
Beyond making a space look good, the crew offers energy auditing services that help owners and project managers alike better utilize electricity and resources. Energy auditors perform full studies that help new projects and existing buildings operate more efficiently with sustainable products, ranging from electrical supply management components to better bulbs. In the long run, these audits save home and business owners thousands of dollars in electrical costs.
Keeping the Lights On
The recent economic downturn put many construction projects on hold. While business owners and individuals hunkered down to weather the storm, many contractors and suppliers struggled. “Construction was crushed,” Laurie explains. “We managed to make it through. We have persevered and it looks like the economy is improving little by little. Our diversity has helped us. We have a great mix between retail and contractor supply, so we got by doing the little things here and there that count.”
Staying on top of trends has helped the business grow, as well. “The newest thing we have going on is our LED lighting,” Laurie elaborates. “We have a full line of LED products. We have done over $5 million in LED lighting and design projects with local businesses, hospitals and universities.”
To help Laurie and the team stay ahead of the curve, GEI participates in a number of trade organizations. The company has membership with the National Association of Electrical Distributors, the IMARK Group, the American Lighting Association and the Home Builders Association. These partnerships offer networking and educational opportunities for the staff that have created important connections to clients and peers in the industry.
With a team of 60 and counting, GEI serves a unique combination of customers out of three locations in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. The company’s diverse market share is growing as the business continues to offer top-of-the-line products and services. Gross Electric Inc. will continue to grow, serving the lighting and electrical needs of builders, homeowners and businesses alike across the region.
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