It all started with Thomas Edison — and a lightbulb.
Current, a commercial and industrial lighting business that provides end-to-end lighting solutions, unveiled its corporate headquarters – which moved from Cleveland earlier this year — by celebrating its official sign raising on Wednesday in Greenville.
“This company had many choices (on where to base their headquarters), but they chose Greenville,” said Greenville Mayor Knox White. “Their choice and their confidence in our community is something we really take to heart, and we appreciate it enormously.”
GE completed the $350 million acquisition of Hubbell Inc.’s commercial and industrial lighting division on Feb. 1, creating Current and its fresh presence in Greenville.
“We are really excited about encouraging and inspiring business growth in this very vibrant community that we are now proud to call home,” said Courtney Abraham, Current chief human resources officer.
About 30-40% of lighting in North America belongs to Current, said Current CEO Manish Bhandari. Current also is the largest sign lighting provider in North America. Ninety-eight percent of the company is based in North America while only 2% is international, providing lighting solutions in Europe.
“Every streetlight was created by General Electric, so we are the legacy holders there,” he said.
One of Current’s most advanced North American factories is in Hendersonville, N.C., which focuses on streetlighting, said Bhandari.
With 35 brands, each one has a different character personality associated with them, he said.
“If you can imagine it, we can build it,” said Bhandari. “Whatever you want, we can make it for you.”
The most rewarding part of being in this business, he added, is utilizing technology and thinking back to the first light from an oil lamp to what lighting is now.
“We light up people’s lives, that’s what we do,” Bhandari said.
Current can also save consumers on 80% of energy costs, said Jim Benson, Current vice president of enterprise marketing and communications.
With the evolution of lighting, this can be done with long-term sustainability, Benson added.
“Being a green company is a big part of our passion here,” he said.
The mayor said the city sees itself as a “city of opportunity,” especially for young people entering the workforce for the first time and the growth of available jobs and opportunities for the entire community to grow.
“This beautiful, iconic headquarters once again is testimony that we are indeed a city of opportunity,” White said.
Lighting is crucial to urban planning and making cities safer, said White.
“We love what you do,” White said to the Current employees at the ceremony. “I’m all about making cities wonderful places, and as you know, and I know, the future of urban design is the lighting. Lighting has become a cutting-edge concept. It’s no longer your old Thomas Edison lightbulb anymore. We are now a long way from that.”
Although Current remains a strong presence in Cleveland, the company decided to move its global headquarters to Greenville because the market is similar to Cleveland and the talent available is supported by a solid education system, both K-12 STEM and higher education programs.
“To run a company like this, it requires a certain kind of people,” said Bhandari. “Those people require a certain kind of lifestyle community for them and their families to live in. This town has changed its past to a glorious future, and we are happy to be a part of it. Our intent is to be here and grow with the community.”
Current has approximately 3,500 employees and 5,000 customers, said Abraham.
Today’s lighting industry is experiencing 3-7% growth each year, and Current expects to be at the top-end of that growth, Bhandari said.
“You name the job, we have it here,” said Abraham. “Whether you’re first starting out as an analyst to moving into finance or the creative side, it’s a great place to start a career and never leave, and not just for engineers.”
Hubbell’s C&I lighting business is a provider of professional lighting, lighting controls and connected lighting that offers a range of indoor and outdoor lighting products for industrial, commercial and institutional applications. Brands that are part of the acquisition include Architectural Area Lighting, Beacon, Litecontrol, Kim Lighting, Columbia Lighting, Prescolite, Dual-Lite, Compass, Kurt Versen, Hubbell Outdoor Lighting, Hubbell Controls Solutions and Whiteway.
GE Current brands include Albeo, Arize, Daintree, Evolve, Forum, Immersion, LightGrid, LightSweep, Lumination, ProLine, Tetra, TriGain and 365DisInFx.
The combined business now offers an extensive product portfolio of lamps, fixtures and controls tailored to C&I, signage, roadway, horticulture and transportation markets. The acquisition also expands Current’s base of distribution partnerships and specific agent networks for the defined businesses and brands, the company says.