Spokane Journal of Business

Columbia Lighting expands

Fluorescent lighting maker to hire 70 employees here as it adds product line

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Columbia Lighting Inc., the Spokane-based maker of fluorescent lighting fixtures, plans to add about 70 people to its work force here within the next month so it can manufacture an additional product line.

The new full-time workers will bring Columbia Lightings employment in Spokane to about 700 people, says Terry Bushnell, human resources manager for the Spokane division of the company. He anticipates that the companys employment here probably will top out at more than 700 this summer as normal seasonal hiring is completed. The company currently has about 625 workers here and is one of the Spokane areas largest manufacturers.

Bushnell says that the lighting-fixture maker is looking mostly for assemblers, who would earn $6 an hour to start with. The company also might hire material handlers, machine operators, and forklift operators, he says.

Columbia Lighting needs the additional workers because it is adding the production of a lighting product line, called Jet JPL, to the Spokane plant, Bushnell says. That line has been made at a manufacturing facility the company operates in Houston. Thats going to expand our capacity here, he says.

Martin Werr, marketing manager at the Spokane division, says the Jet JPL line refers to a number of different high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting fixtures. Those fixtures often are found at service stations, under canopies covering gas pumps, for instance, he says. They also can be used in a number of other applications, such as lighting for a parking lot.

Columbia Lightings plant here is located in the Spokane Business & Industrial Park, where it occupies 270,000 square feet of floor space in two buildings. Bushnell says the company intends to expand its employment and manufacturing in its current space. But, he adds, Well be pretty full here.

The manufacturer also employs another 765 people outside of the Spokane area, according to information it provided to the Journal of Business early this year. It has a large manufacturing plant in Bristol, Pa., along with the one in Houston, and also has a network of warehouses and distribution centers across the U.S. and Canada.

Columbia Lighting President Robert H. Ingram said last summer that the Spokane company had posted record year after record year since 1993. It has benefited greatly from an improved construction climate throughout the U.S., he said.

The company claims to be the nations third-largest maker of commercial, industrial, and residential fluorescent-lighting fixtures. The company, which has roots here dating back to 1898, is part of Birmingham, Ala.-based Lighting Corporation of America (LCA). LCA, in turn, is part of huge U.S. Industries Inc., of Iselin, N.J.

  • Marlene Mehlhaff

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