Earlier this month at its annual conference in San Antonio, TX, the American Lighting Assn. (ALA) inducted industry heavyweight Andrew Schonbek, President and CEO of Schonbek Worldwide Lighting, into the distinguished ranks of its hallowed Hall of Fame.
Armed with a wide range of experience—as well as a talent for innovative thinking and problem solving—Schonbek has built upon the storied tradition of his family’s crystal lighting business, both strengthening the company’s reputation in the marketplace and leading its manufacturing processes into the 21st Century.
“There is a number of criteria that the committee looks at in evaluating Hall of Fame candidates—impact on the industry, service to ALA, integrity and respect—and there’s no question Andrew meets the qualifications,” says Rick Wiedemer, Hinkley Lighting President and Chair of the ALA Awards committee. “He’s made an impact on the industry and continues to lead his company in interpreting classic designs with today’s creative style.”
The great-grandson of Schonbek Lighting founder Adolf Schonbek, the younger Schonbek—a Montreal native—grew up in the lighting industry. During summer breaks from college, he worked for decorative glass and crystal manufacturer Gustav Lindner in Kaufbeuren, West Germany, and as a metalworking apprentice for the German manu-facturing company Palme & Walter KG. Upon graduating from Canada’s University of Toronto, Schonbek accepted a position as Customer Service Representative for Leviton Manufacturing Co. He earned his MBA from McGill University in Montreal in 1976 and shortly thereafter joined the family business as a management intern.
Prior to becoming President of the company in 1981, Schonbek helped implement Schonbek Lighting’s first computer system. Later, as head of the company, he developed innovative new manufacturing processes and authored 54 of the company’s patents.
In addition to his successes within his own company, Schonbek has also had a positive and noteworthy effect on the lighting industry as a whole. From 1989 to 1990, he served as President of ALA’s Manufacturers Board. During his reign, Schonbek led the charge in integrating the formerly independent divisions of ALA—Manufacturer, Showroom and Representative—into a stronger, unified organization, a model still in place today.