Gross Electric lights area for nearly a centuryWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Gross Electric Inc., a family-owned electric distributor and retailer, has provided electric parts and lighting products for the industrial, commercial and retail markets in the Toledo area for nearly 100 years.
George Joseph Gross, known as Joe, came to Toledo from Chicago in 1910 to close a local operation for his employer at that time, Peerless Gas Mantle Company. Instead, Gross decided to buy the location and open his own store.
“He sold everything from light bulbs to appliances and was once the largest appliance store in Toledo,” said his granddaughter Laurie Gross, president of the family business.
Gross Electric was located Downtown for many years in what is now Fort Industry Square. Joe’s son and Laurie’s father, Richard, joined the business in 1950 and got involved in the electrical supply business.
The company opened a second location in Ann Arbor in 1967, which is still operating. In 1978, it moved its main operations from Downtown to Reynolds Road just south of Central Avenue, and opened a store on Woodville Road in 1978.
“Dad was in love with the electrical business and ran it for 50 years,” Laurie said. “He’s retired now, but still comes in and helps with special projects.”
Her brother, Joe Gross, runs the supply end of the business, and she concentrates on the retail business. About 30 percent of their business is commercial and 70 percent is residential.
However, 60 percent is sold to electrical contractors for installation in homes and businesses, Joe said.
“Our pricing is very competitive with the big-box retailers, but we have stayed in business because of the personal service we provide to our customers,” Laurie said.
Gross has more than 2,000 lighting products on sale in its 5,000-square-foot showroom, but nearly 30,000 individual items from 150 manufacturers in total inventory.
The company has 60 employees, many of whom have worked there for 30 to 40 years.
Laurie and Joe said dedicated and qualified employees make the difference with their customers.
The Lifestyle Center in the Toledo showroom features the latest in decorative and recessed lighting with electrical controls for homes and businesses.
Gross also offers repair and refurbishing services for lamps and light fixtures, starting at $40.
The company recently introduced a “Bulb Busters Program” for homeowners, which provides a free evaluation of the home with recommendations for more energy-efficient lighting products.