When Lester “Les” Hohl, president of City Lighting Products, St. Louis, and his sons Michael and Tim arrived at Osram Sylvania corporate headquarters in Danvers, Mass., on May 23, they were prepared for a day of product and sales training briefings. But when they entered the company’s customer training center, they were greeted by a group of more than 100 employees and senior management from Osram Sylvania’s general lighting division. The Hohls, as it turned out, were guests of honor at a surprise tribute — part of a series of events planned by the lighting manufacturer to thank City Lighting for 50 years of selling Sylvania products. City Lighting Products is among Sylvania’s top 25 U.S. customers.

Henny Peters, Sylvania’s executive vice president and general manager, presided over the ceremony and presented a review of Les Hohl’s career and his success as an entrepreneur. Hohl actually started his career with Sylvania as a consumer products sales representative in 1956 after graduating from St. Louis University. He left the lighting manufacturer in 1967 when the opportunity arose to purchase an interest in City Lighting Products. By 1974, he was the sole owner.

Over the years, he and his family grew the business from its original two locations in St. Louis and Kansas City and added locations in Pittsburgh in 1990 and Denver in 1998. His son, Tim, joined the business in 1986 and is now vice president of sales, and son Mike joined in 1995 and is now vice president of national accounts. The ceremony concluded with the presentation of commemorative gifts to Hohl and his wife Patricia, who was unable to attend.