Coopersburg, Pa. — Lutron Electronics will remain family-owned following the death of chairman and founder Joel S. Spira, the company announced.
Ownership will remain in the Spira family in keeping with the wishes of founders Joel and wife Ruth, said Lutron president Michael W. Pessina. Ruth Spira and her daughter, Susan Hakkarainen, will be co-chairs and will lead the company along with Pessina and the current management team, he said.
Joel Spira, 88, passed away on April 8, having founded the company in 1961 with Ruth in a spare bedroom of their Manhattan apartment. Spira led Lutron for 54 years as chairman and director of research.
He founded Lutron after developing a way to reduce the output of lightbulbs, which led to his invention of the world’s first solid-state dimmer. The Capri dimmer was introduced in the early 1960s with ads suggesting that it could enhance the ambiance of a room by “dialing romance.”
Since then, the company expanded its product line from basic dimmer switches to high-tech lighting controls and home automation systems. The company makes about 14,000 lighting products sold in more than 100 countries for residences, palaces, universities, hotels, museums and offices, including the Empire State Building. Lutron holds more than 2,000 patents.
Spira’s accomplishments have been recognized with honorary Ph.Ds and the donation of Lutron’s products to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Pessina said.