Design Milk recently headed to Charleston, South Carolina to visit the headquarters of Urban Electric Co. and to partake in some sweet southern charm and hospitality. Urban Electric Co. was founded in 2003 by Dave Dawson who has built a one-of-a-kind lighting company that is truly like no other. Leading the way of American manufacturers, the company delivers high-quality lighting built by their extensively-trained skilled craftsmen, who along with the entire company, work under one roof in South Carolina.
Housed in a massive 65,000 square foot facility that’s located in an old Navy yard in North Charleston, the building contains the entire operation.
Once inside, you’re greeted with random pieces from the company’s storied past that are temporarily suspended.
When they moved in, they made a point to keep the original details of the building which was once used to build ships inside. Notice the massive truss-like structure above and the lines on the floor. The lines on the floor used to indicate where it was safe to walk.
They have some of the pieces on display for visitors like me to drool over, like these classic lanterns.
Everything is done in-house and that includes making of the lighting parts to assembly to painting to packing, etc. Here are some of the raw metals waiting to be cut.
Pieces freshly cut that will go upstairs to be meticulously assembled by one of their craftsmen.
The offcuts make amazing works of art all by themselves. Whatever is leftover, though, goes to be recycled into new material.
An unfinished piece that has been seamlessly welded together.
The company extensively trains each employee encouraging them to stay with the company for the long haul. When employees are hired, they begin a year long apprenticeship training under the senior and master craftsmen. Slowly, they graduate up the chain to senior and then eventually to a master craftsmen, which takes years to achieve. Walking on the shop floor, you can tell each craftsmen takes pride in their work and it shows in the finished product. It also results in a very low turnover at the company and super happy employees.
So much time, patience, and skill goes into the making of each fixture.
Some of the forms used to mold metal pieces.
A banner shows the company’s motto, “Always proud, never satisfied.” They’re always striving to do better as a whole.
Fixtures getting a powder-coated finish.
Our trip to Charleston was supported by Urban Electric Co..