H.E. Williams portrait

Portrait of Harold E. Williams

Harold E. Williams started with a dream 100 years ago. As an engineer with an entrepreneurial spirit, he founded the H.E. Williams Company in 1921. Renting a 25' x 50' room in Carthage, Missouri, H.E. made kitchen utensils, static signs, folding picnic tables and bicycle parts with the help of just one assistant. He would finish operations for the day and sell products door-to-door at night.

106 E. 2nd Street facility; the original H.E. Williams, Inc. warehouse

Original 1921 facility

A potato masher, one of the original H.E. Williams inventions

Potato masher

A bike kickstand, one of the original H.E. Williams inventions

Bicycle kick stand

An erasable message board, one of the original H.E. Williams inventions

Folding table

1920s  The Automotive Years Williams' logo in 1920s

By the mid-1920s, the company made various gadgets for automobiles, including folding luggage racks, canopies for rumble seats, radiator bug screens, underslung creepers and seat cushions. Moving twice throughout the decade, H.E. settled the company into its location on Route 66 in 1929.

An early photo of the H.E. Williams Products Company workforce from the 1920s. Our founder, H.E., is in the back row with the bow tie.

H.E. (bow tie) and his workforce

A foldable luggage rack, one of the original H.E. Williams inventions

Patented folding luggage rack

Williams 1924 facility on Main Street.

Factory, circa 1924

A rumble seat canopy, one of the original H.E. Williams inventions

Rumble seat canopy

Airflow cushions, one of the original H.E. Williams inventions

Seat cushion

1930s  Never-Ending Ideas Williams' logo in 1930s

H.E. was awarded many different patents, not only for products, but also their production. By the 1930s, gas and radiator caps, sun visors and radio antennas were being produced.

In 1939, H.E. attended the World's Fair in New York City, where he witnessed the introduction of fluorescent lamps. He immediately started engineering fixtures to house the new light source. By December of that year he had ordered machinery to produce product.

1930s photo of the H.E. Williams Products Company workforce.

1936 workforce

Williams gas tank caps, one of the original H.E. Williams inventions

Patented airplane and automobile gas caps

A sun visor, one of the original H.E. Williams inventions

Externally-mounted sun visor

Vehicle radio antennae, one of the original H.E. Williams inventions

Patented car antenna

Assembly of seat cushions, one of the original H.E. Williams inventions

Seat cushion assembly line

1940s  First In Fluorescent Williams' logo in 1940s

By the early 1940s, H.E. had engineered a suite of fluorescent fixtures and began exhibiting his products at industry trade shows. During World War II, Williams also made ammunition casings, cable pulleys, and bomb clips for American warbirds. By the late 1940s, lighting was at the forefront of the business, and the factory was expanded to double the square footage.

H.E. Williams at Fluorescent Futurama showcasing Williams lighting fixtures

Fluorescent Futurama, 1941

Early facility manufacturing fluorescent fixtures.

1940s factory floor

H.E. Williams Products Company workforce in 1941.

The workforce, November 6, 1941

H.E. Williams Products Company facility.

Factory on historic Route 66

Aircraft parts manufactured at H.E. Williams Products Company.

Management meets with Department of Defense

1950s  Engineering Excellence Williams' logo in 1950s

In the 1950s, H.E. developed a line of outlet and switch boxes featuring preset nails – an industry standard today. Not only did H.E. engineer the products, he designed the manufacturing equipment that would meet his production standards. During this time, John Williams, H.E.'s son, began to learn the lighting business under the direction of his father.

The Williams engineering office, with engineers hard at work

H.E. consults with draftsmen

First fleet of Williams delivery trucks.

Early Williams truck

Nail crimping and outlet box machinery designed by H.E. and built at Williams.

Outlet box assembly line

Machine designed by H.E. to crimp nails into outlet boxes.

Nail crimping and outlet box machinery

1960s  Room to Grow Williams' logo in 1960s

During the 1960s, the company continued to introduce new products for educational facilities, retail shops, and commercial office spaces. With business booming, H.E. saw the need for additional manufacturing space and began moving operations to its current location on Fairview Avenue, where he installed the first conveyorized paint line. The move was accomplished without disrupting production.

New powder-coat paint system installed in the 1980s.

Paint system installation

Machinery used in manufacturing fluorescent fixtures.

New fabrication area

Tool and die fabrication.

Tool and die machinist

H.E. Williams and John Williams showcasing fixtures with the First in Fluorescent slogan

Management at 1965 tradeshow

1970s Lifelong Partnerships

While H.E. continued to oversee operations, John focused on fostering sales relationships and expanded the business to a national level. During the 1970s, the company realized significant growth and introduced its first quick-ship stocking program.

New Williams facility in 1971

Factory, mid 1970s

The Williams assembly line in May 1973

1973 assembly line

The Williams fabrication line in the 1970s

Coil-fed fabrication equipment

Williams engineers hard at work in the 1970s

Drafting engineers, late 1970s

A Williams employee working the fabrication line in the 1970s

Management performs quality check

1980s  A New Generation Williams' logo in 1980s

John Williams in front of the 80s Williams sign

John Williams, mid 1980s

John Williams became CEO in 1980. He raised the bar by focusing on product quality and customer service. A powder-coat paint system was installed, immediately setting Williams apart from the competition. In the late 80s into the early 90s, the company made acquisitions that substantially enhanced the product offering.

John’s son, Mark Williams, began his career at the lighting company working on the production floor. Mark furthered his knowledge of the business by spending several years in customer service and, eventually, moved on to lead the corporation’s marketing initiatives.

Globe Illumination equipment arriving to install.

Arrival of high-speed production equipment

Williams fabrication line in the 80s

Fabrication, circa 1980s

Williams factory floor in the 80s

1980s assembly line

A Williams employee on the factory floor in the 80s

Tool and die shop

1990s  Three Generations Strong Williams' logo in 1990s

Mark Williams standing on the factory floor.

Mark Williams, late 1990s

In the mid-1990s, Mark Williams became CEO starting the 3rd generation of Williams leadership. During this time, the first CNC machinery was purchased which enabled the company to grow the product line more quickly and to satisfy custom modification requests. Mark continued to modernize the business operations by prioritizing in-house production with lean manufacturing processes.

John Williams and Mark Williams looking at finished fixtures on the factory floor in the 90s

John and Mark Williams, early 1990s

Infinity lighting group photo next to The Underground entrance

Underground manufacturing facility

Fabrication equipment in the 1990s.

CNC fabrication, mid 1990s

Assembly of cylinders on the factory floor

Underground offices

The old Williams tradeshow booth, showcasing our products in the 90s

Lightfair tradeshow, mid 1990s

The Trumatic 200 machine on the Williams factory floor in the 90s

Early CNC fabrication machine

2000s  Bolstering Production Williams' logo in 2000s

To meet increasing market demand, the facility underwent a massive upgrade in 2005 that resulted in over 300,000 square feet of conditioned production space. A first-class customer experience center, additional office area, new fabrication equipment, an enhanced powder-coat paint system, more assembly lines, and extra warehousing were included in the expansion. The Williams portfolio flourished with the acquisition of several niche lighting manufacturers.

Arial view of the H.E. Williams facility.

Current Williams factory

Enhanced powder coat paint system

Powder coat paint system

An aerial view of the modern H.E. Williams factory floor

Assembly area

2010s An Industry Evolution

With the advancement of LED technology, lighting quickly evolved, prompting Williams to offer innovative designs around the new source, adapt production processes, and build out a portfolio to include a full suite of LED luminaires and controls solutions.

Modern educational facility with downlights, cylinders, and continuous suspended products.

MX2 linear and 6DR downlights

Modern commercial office with downlights and recessed continuous in a corner application

MX4R linear and 6DS downlights

Surface mount RNDS with custom orange paint illuminating corridor with orange accent mural wall.

RND architectural rounds

H.E. Williams, Inc. 100 year logo

One Family. Three Generations. One Hundred Years.

Manufacturing to the exacting standards established in 1921 – with performance and quality in mind. Still made right here in Carthage, Missouri and still the best.