When Andrew Choi left his native South Korea in 1968, there were bright lights in his future—the bright lights of New York City,
where he settled, and the bright lights of
Bulbrite, the company he founded three
years later with his wife, Barbara.
Andrew had worked for a trading
company back home, which gave him
knowledge of the lighting business. In
his new city, he began selling light bulbs
out of a suitcase to retail clients. His
case was full of product samples—as
well as free bagels to entice customers.
While Andrew handled sales and
relationships with their Korean bulb
manufacturers, Barbara took care of operations. In 1981, Andrew’s brother John
arrived from South Korea and joined the
sales effort. Soon, they needed space to
grow and, in 1988, built a new office and
distribution center in South Hackensack. They outgrew that too, and in 1999
moved into their current spacious headquarters in Moonachie. The two-story
facility is home to about 50 employees,
a distribution center and a testing lab.
The company also has a facility in Texas,
a distribution center in California and a
corporate office in
to innovation en-
sures the company
ers with top-notch
catalog ranges from
residential to commer-
cial, standard to specialty,
task lighting to novelty.
Bulbrite’s long list of tech-
nologies include halogen,
krypton, xenon and LED.
To help customers navi-
gate today’s complicated
lighting marketplace, Bul-
brite has an online learn-
ing center, lightopedia.
com, which offers insight
on bulb shapes, sizes, bases
and filament types.
Internally, Bulbrite fos-
ters a workplace culture
that encourages not just
innovation, but education
and a focus on customer
satisfaction, says company
president Cathy Choi, the
eldest child of Andrew
Even Choi didn’t
bypass the company’s
gram. When she joined the company in
2001 at age 30, she had a B.A., an MBA
and 10 years’ business experience. At
Bulbrite, she started in the customer-
service department and worked at vari-
ous levels until she was appointed to
her current position in 2009. Starting in
customer service made sense, she says,
since customers are “the key, the core
The company’s values have not
gone unnoticed. Author Adam Bryant
featured Bulbrite in his book Quick and
Nimble (Times Books, 2014), which of-
fers lessons from CEOs about creating a
high-performance business culture.
Bulbrite’s values also extend to
the local community in Moonachie.
The town was devastated by flooding
from Hurricane Sandy, and many
local residents have struggled to get
back on their feet. Through the South
Bergen Rotary, Bulbrite has helped
the families most in need, largely with
Additionally, every year for Thanksgiving, Bulbrite and its employees
contribute canned goods and gift cards
to be used in baskets for local families.
If not for these donations, Choi explains, many families would miss out
on a simple luxury like Thanksgiving
The spirit of innovation makes the Choi family
a bright light in the lighting business.
By Lauren N. Bowers
WINNER REVENUE OVER $10 MILLION
OWNER: Cathy Choi,
GENERATIONS AC TIVELY
Andrew Choi, center, with son Eric, a
product manager and
daughter Cathy, who
serves as president of
the company Andrew
founded after arriving
in America in 1968.