Meyda Lighting: Half a Century of Illuminating History

The custom Chandelier that Meyda built and engineered as the world’s largest freestanding LED chandelier, for the Stanley Theatre in Utica. 

Founded in 1974 in Utica, New York, Meyda Lighting proudly celebrates its 50th Anniversary. The firm was founded when Meyer Cohen was asked by his wife Ida, to build a stained glass window in their kitchen so they wouldn’t have to view the vintage cars in their neighbor’s driveway. Meyer was a master craftsman and inventor, and his wife, Ida, was a natural businesswoman. They combined their names to form the Meyda Lighting Brand we know today. 

What began as a hobby evolved into America’s Premier decorative lighting manufacturing and importing company by the Cohens’ son Robert, and his wife, Ellie. Today, Meyda Lighting continues to operate as a family-run business, with the Cohens’ son, at the helm and grandsons Chester, Max, and Ben by his side.

The company was founded on a Do it yourself philosophy, never saying “No” and always saying “Yes” to every opportunity. This spirit has led to the company’s strategy of in-sourcing technology, absorbing competitors, and buying strategic vendors.

At the turn of the 20th Century (circa 1919), years before it was acquired by Meyda, Quality Bent Glass opened its doors and revolutionized the manufacturing process for high-temperature glass. It is best known for supplying fixtures and components to the original Louis C Tiffany Studios.

After outgrowing the Cohen’s basement, Meyda made many moves before finally settling into its current location on Oriskany Boulevard in Yorkville, New York.

They owned and operated a miniature golf course in the popular tourist town of Old Forge in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. A year after the golf course was built, the house next door became available, and the Cohens bought it. It was on the front porch of that house that they launched the first retail outlet and summer studio around 1975.

Next, Meyda opened a one-stall garage on James Street in Utica in 1976, which was converted into a storefront. The store was opened as a winter studio, three days a week, four hours a day.

From there, the business moved to Bleeker Street in downtown Utica in 1979. It was a three-story building with a total of 6,000 square feet on three floors. Known as Meyda Stained Glass Studio, the company mastered the fine art of shaping stained glass and began manufacturing stained glass lamps, windows, and decorative accessories. 

Around the same time, in 1979, 2nd Ave Lighting was established in Mesa, Arizona, 35 years before being acquired by Meyda. 2nd Ave Lighting offered American-made custom and customizable chandeliers, pendants, lanterns, street lamps, and other fixtures for upscale residences, senior living communities, hotels, casinos, country clubs, and restaurants.

In Upstate New York during the early 1980s, Meyer and his son Robert, were amazed by the strong reaction from consumers buying Mini Tiffany lamps in the store and a Christmas kiosk in a local mall. They gradually began to build the business for the wholesale market. Robert took over the helm of the company as it focused on the production and distribution of Tiffany-styled lamps and lighting fixtures on a national level. Meyda successfully marketed 12-inch “Mini Tiffany” stained glass lamps to the giftware industry. It marked the first time consumers could purchase Tiffany-designed lamps at affordable prices, and Meyda soon became known as “The Home of The $40 Tiffany Lamp.” It developed a national sales force and exhibited its Tiffany lighting line at gift shows in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and North America.

Continued growth in its wholesale distribution of Tiffany-style lamps forced the company to move production and warehousing to a 20,000-square-foot building on Stark Street off the Arterial in Utica in 1985.

In June of 1992, Meyda acquired the Quality Bent Glass Company and increased its American-made lighting collection to become one of the only remaining manufacturers of bent glass lighting. The company still creates high-fired glass masterpieces using original tools, technologies, and techniques. The division also developed the Revival, Gas & Electric, Metro Fusion, and Schoolhouse Glass collections.

In May 1994, Meyda Tiffany relocated its national headquarters and manufacturing/distributing facilities to Yorkville in upstate New York. The new facilities encompassed over 60,000 square feet, more than triple the size of the previous facility, located in Utica, New York, on 8.5 acres of land.  

In the late 1990s, Meyda opened wholesale showrooms at the High Point International Furnishings Market and the Dallas Trade Mart. In 1998, Meyda Tiffany acquired a Utica, NY-based fabricator of handcrafted metal art gifts, home furnishings, and decorative accessories and renamed the line the Old Forge Collection, featuring nature-inspired, wildlife, and other outdoor motifs. Around the same time, Meyda introduced its first outdoor lighting collection– The Craftsman Signature Series, which offers over 25,000 custom-crafted lighting designs in art glass, mica, solid copper, and brass lanterns that are all naturally distinct. 

In the year 2000, the manufacturing facility was expanded by 70,000-75,000 square feet, totaling 144,000 square feet. Later, in the early 2000s, the Fused Glass Collection was a natural product addition, given its long-standing expertise in glass fabrication techniques mastered in the Quality Bent Glass division.

In 2008, Meyda Custom Lighting was launched while building the world’s largest freestanding LED chandelier, a centerpiece of the Stanley Theatre in Utica, New York. The massive chandelier is 35 feet wide, 11 feet tall, and weighs over 7,000 pounds. The firm’s custom capabilities were also demonstrated by introducing the award-winning Chandel-Air line, featuring custom fan-integrated lighting fixtures that deploy multiple light layers for various applications.

two Tiffany Reproduction Lamps- the Tiffany Laburnum and the Magnolia

In 2009, Meyda acquired 2nd Ave Lighting to expand the metal lighting program on the commercial and residential side of the business. Distributed primarily to the hospitality design community, this division manufactures upscale bespoke lighting, emphasizing hand-applied premium finishes, diffuser styles, and lens materials.

Over the years, Meyda has always given back to the community. Meyda offers its factory and state-of-the-art equipment to the students and faculty of SUNY POLY for their extracurricular activities regarding various engineering competitions. Understanding the importance of the programs and the impact of American manufacturing, the firm feels a responsibility to help the students and professors and support the local, professional, and creative art communities.

Meyda President Robert Cohen has served on the Board of Directors for the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute for more than a decade; Meyda Director of Hospitality Marketing Max Cohen serves on the Board of the Stanley Center for the Arts and is a former Board Member of the Utica Jewish Community Center; and Meyda Production Manager Chester Cohen serves on the Board of the Charles T. Sitrin Health Care Center. All are legendary institutions located in the Utica, New York area.

Meyda supported VIEW, the Arts Center in Old Forge, NY, aptly called the “Meyda Tiffany Lighting Creative Arts Wing,” and continues to support the creative arts, artisans, and those entering this exciting field of endeavor. Meyda has contributed over $1 Million during the past ten years to local and national charities to help those in need, especially those facing life-threatening illnesses, including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Make a Wish Foundation, Autism Awareness, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Hospice Care, and the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals and medical centers.

Over the past ten years, the company has continued to thrive, amassing new technologies, state-of-the-art equipment, and expanded custom production capabilities as it continues to exhibit at scores of industry events nationwide. Dozens of new lighting designs are generated weekly for the world to see. The Meyda family of lighting companies has evolved and is based in its 180,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at 55 Oriskany Blvd. in Yorkville, New York. At least one of the founders’ great-grandchildren has begun designing new lighting products, so rest assured that the company’s future will be in good hands.

More information www.Meyda.com

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