The Hudson Valley has a sneaky way of exerting its pull on people; try to leave, and you come boomeranging back. Take David Littman, for instance, who grew up in Newburgh and was about to embark on his career in finance in 1985. As he was wrapping up his MBA from George Washington University and setting up interviews on Wall Street, Littman was pulled aside by his father, who had run a commercial lighting business for years.
“He said, ‘Before you accept a job offer, take a look at this lighting company,’” recalls Littman. One thing led to another, and Littman, the junior, decided to pursue the residential lighting endeavor. Now, decades later, he’s the founder and CEO of the Hudson Valley Lighting Group, as he dubbed it. The firm has grown to be a major force and trendsetter in the industry as well as a vibrant local business.
With at least 10,000 fixtures available across multiple brands, Hudson Valley Lighting Group prides itself in offering an array of contemporary and classic options for every room in the house… and outdoors as well. If you are looking for a museum-worthy chandelier, the organically inspired Aimi—four feet in diameter, meticulously crafted from white-washed coco shells—could be the perfect option. But there are also classic ceramic table lamps, modern lanterns, sleek sconces, and other options to suit any taste and budget.
In some ways, lighting was always in Littman’s DNA. “My grandfather worked alongside GE on the creation of fluorescent light, which was launched in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair,” he says. “He went on to start a company called Light-tron in Brooklyn, which moved to Cornwall and then New Windsor in 1971.” Littman and his sister still own and use that building today for their shared manufacturing company, USAI Lighting.
When Littman jumped aboard, it wasn’t just due to this heritage nor the opportunity to flex his freshly minted business skills. “What brought me into the residential side of the business was my appreciation for aesthetics. My mother is from Vienna, and both my parents were collectors,” says Littman. “I grew up in a house filled with antiquities and art, and accompanied my mother and father to auctions. At a time when everybody was into new lacquer furniture, my parents always had an appreciation for beautiful old things, mostly from the 18th century.” It was through the adventure of treasure-hunting that Littman began to hone his understanding of quality, materials, design, and the importance of details.
As he took the reins of the business (first headquartered in Newburgh, then in Wappingers Falls since 2016), he began putting his stamp on the company and grew it into a mega-brand. “My mission is and has always been to bring beauty into the world and allow people to illuminate their spaces with beautiful products,” he says. Translation: Before any fixture is produced, there are multiple design reviews with his team. Opinions are shared and details are hashed out until the product is perfect. “Having been in this business for about 40 years, I know how critical it is to keep our customers in mind, so we’re always considering not only design but also price points and usability,” he explains. “It’s a challenging, ongoing, and interesting battle we fight.”
As the HVLG product line met with success, the company began branching out. Littman’s father had told him that there was nothing like being your own boss and creating your own destiny, and that’s exactly what he did. He expanded the business by acquiring Troy Lighting and Corbett Lighting in the early 2000s, as well as CSL, a commercial lighting division (perhaps a tribute to his family’s roots).
HVLG also began to do collabs with well-known designers (they are currently featuring mixed metals and earthy textures from designer Becki Owens and refined classics from the interior design firm Pembrooke & Ives). In 2017, the Mitzi brand was launched, a one-stop online shop for affordable but exactingly made options, plus pieces crafted with top tastemakers in the industry.
Whether crafting a botanically inspired wall sconce or a playful floor lamp, the goal is always to ensure that “great lighting has the power to not only elevate any home but enrich people’s lives,” says Littman, whose business is thriving both nationally and abroad.
Having spent almost his entire life in the Valley, Littman says that the area has shaped his aesthetics and aspirations, too. “As for sheer natural beauty, it’s as beautiful as anywhere in the country,” he says. He has never thought of moving his business elsewhere.
“Great Lighting has the power to not only elevate any home but enrich people’s lives,” says Littman.
“Being based in the Hudson Valley for nearly four decades has allowed us to create incredibly strong ties to this community, where the vast majority of our staff lives,” says Littman. “Last year, we were a part of the renovations for the Ronald McDonald House of The Greater Hudson Valley. We were thrilled to contribute to an atmosphere that fosters peace and hope for families.”
Littman and his family are big fans of being out and about amid the Valley’s splendor as well. A historic home in Newburgh above the Hudson River is their launching pad for outdoor adventures. “My daughter, who’s 11, enjoys horseback riding, and there’s great golf in the area for me as well. My wife finds the Hudson Valley to be her zen place. She relaxes here better than anywhere.” They also love the local restaurants: Hudson Taco and Il Cena’Colo in Newburgh and Sapore in Fishkill are their “big three,” he says.
But going to the office isn’t a letdown after savoring the area’s scenery and offerings. “I try to make our workplace as beautiful and welcoming as people’s homes, so that when they’re here, they feel cared about and love being here,” says Littman of his firm’s recently refreshed Wappingers Falls headquarters. “It feels like a challenging and wonderful environment where everybody wants to raise the bar because the company’s dreams are endless.”
HVLG’s leader, David Littman, offers these three thoughts on updating lighting throughout your house:
Warm up for winter.
This season, new materials such as natural rattan, leather, coco beads, and specialty glass (in the way of plated, cast, and piastre) will be highlighted throughout both Hudson Valley Lighting’s and Corbett Lighting’s newest collections. As days get shorter and temperatures get even colder, more time will be spent indoors and we’re encouraging our customers to experiment with new materials in their homes to contribute to a comforting ambiance.
Understand eco-friendly options.
The industry has moved completely to LED bulbs. We’re now using about 1/10 of the energy that lighting used to use, which is great for the environment. Because LEDs run cooler, we can use a lot of materials that would run hot and burn with the old incandescent bulbs, like alabaster.
Add style with lighting.
Yes, you can go very basic and functional, but why not add some flair? Lighting is a great way to communicate your style. For instance, you might adopt an industrial vibe (HVLG has a collab with interior designer, Lauren Liess, that embraces that look) for your dining room or find a farmhouse fixture that adds a classic touch.