Fifty years ago, Gross Electric moved into an industrial building on a dead end street with nothing around it. They created a beautiful display of lighting fixtures and lamps, and became an instant hit! Throughout the years, they have become a staple of the Ann Arbor community, continuing to grow and expand as the area has grown.
Gross Electric began in downtown Toledo, Ohio, in 1910 selling gas mantels. As electrical products developed, so did the company. At one time, they bought electrical parts & manufactured their own fixtures, so when they advertised “direct from the manufacturer,” they meant it! They also wired houses, installed fixtures, and sold lamps, lighting fixtures, and small appliances such as radios, phonographs, mixers and toasters. They also sold electrical supplies to contractors.
As a University of Michigan graduate, Dick Gross had always been interested in the Ann Arbor market. Builders would come to the Toledo store and tell him that he needed to have a location up there. In 1966, the opportunity came to buy out a small showroom on South Industrial Highway, so Gross jumped at the chance. The closeout sale in early 1967 was so successful they had to lock the door and let customers in as others left. Then Gross moved their fixtures into the store and opened Gross Lighting Center, a division of Gross Electric.
The showroom did well with builder customers, and when they became the only other location in Ann Arbor to trade light bulbs for Detroit Edison, consumers loved it, because they could come in on evenings and Saturdays.
The lighting business continued to grow as Ann Arbor grew. Then in 1978, Dick’s daughter, Laurie, also a U of M graduate, moved back to Ann Arbor to run the operation and helped develop the Ann Arbor electrical supply and builder business. South Industrial attached to Eisenhower, Briarwood Mall opened, and Gross Lighting needed to expand. So, they bought the building next door at 2232 S. Industrial Hwy. in 1985. As part of the move, they expanded the showroom and opened a separate electrical supply counter, which meant it was time to adopt the corporate name, Gross Electric. They doubled the size of the building by adding an 8,000 sq. ft. warehouse onto the back. And in 1996 they doubled the size of the showroom by taking over part of the old warehouse.
As the oldest independent, locally owned electrical distributor in the area, Gross Electric has the knowledge and experience to help individuals choose the right lighting and electrical supplies for their homes and businesses.
As part of its 50th anniversary celebration in Ann Arbor, Gross Electric hosted an open house for builders, interior designers, and architects on Wednesday, April 19. A retail sale for the public will run April 20-22.
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