Lighting up the world for 71 years.Lighting up the world for 71 years.
The history of LightBulbs.com is one of perseverance, family, technological embrace and many name changes.
In 1951, Mel Jacobson launched Mel's Van O Lite in Minneapolis, MN, by selling light bulbs out of the back of a van.
Mel's Van O Lite grew and began providing lighting products to many local retail establishments. The company purchased a fleet of vans and used them to stock and service all their grocery and hardware customers in the Twin Cities.
Mel Jacobson incorporated Mel's Van O Lite and partners with friend, Don McLellan, and business continues to grow.
Around this time, Mel and Don purchased a warehouse in Northeast Minneapolis and Mel's Van O Lite becomes a widely recognized name in the local Twin Cities area.
In the years to follow, Mel's Van O Lite moved twice more as they continued to grow and need more warehouse and showroom space. Lighting distributors were permitted to only sell one primary lighting vendor; Mel's Van O lite first chose the popular brand Sylvania, and later switched to Westinghouse, followed by GE.
Over the next few decades, the catalog expanded by including supplementary products from Rayovac, Eveready, and Duracell, as well as Vickerman Christmas products.
In 1982, Mel Jacobson retired, and Don McLellan purchased the company. He ran it with three of his sons; Tom, Dave, and Steve and Don dropped the "Mel's" from the company name.
Van O Lite solidifies its presence in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (as well as many locations in Wisconsin) as a major player in the lighting industry, servicing nearly every grocery and hardware establishment in a 100 mile radius. At this time, Van O Lite was also the primary lighting distributor for the #1 hardware retailer in the state of Minnesota. Since then, over 40 vans have been purchased and put into production to service the Twin Cities and surrounding areas.
Later in the 1980's, the brand Philips as well as many other brands of commercial lights were added to the catalog in support of the company's widening focus to both residential and commercial markets alike. Van O Lite would receive many referrals from big-box stores like Target and Menards as being the place to go when they couldn't assist their customers.
Van O Lite becomes the first business in the world to sell lighting products online, when Paul McLellan (Dave's son) started work on the company's first website, VanOLite.com.
Their initial online catalog offered triple tube compact fluorescents, full spectrum bulbs and flashlights.
The response to their website was immediate, and their eCommerce side of the business took off, setting the stage for the prosperous future.
Because Van O Lite was mostly a locally-recognized entity, Lite-House.com was launched as Van O Lite's new dedicated eCommerce website and quickly became the most complete online light bulb store; boasting well over 4,000 lighting products.
As online marketing (primarily, pay-per-click) grew in popularity, Lite-House.com leveraged these opportunities to grow at a national level.
Soon, Van O Lite built a new facility to accommodate the exponential growth that Lite-House.com had created for them. This new facility allowed for Lite-House.com to branch out into additional markets online, improving their catalog by including lighting fixtures, ballasts and electrical products.
It was during this time that many online distributors went bankrupt due to the "dot com bust", but Van O Lite/Lite-House.com remained strong and kept expanding its inventory, customer base and online presence.
Over the next several years, Lite-House.com would serve as the lighting distributor of choice for national political events, hundreds of national restaurants chains and multiple films and TV shows.
Soon, the Flashlight Museum was launched as a showcase of nearly 4,000 flashlights dating back to the late 19th century and inception of the flashlight. Many notable news outlets and TV stations would end up highlighting Van O Lite, Lite-House.com and the Flashlight Museum and their unique offerings.
Van O Lite and Lite-House.com merge to create Service Lighting to embrace their growing vision of being a complete lighting solution, offering a wide array of lighting products as well as assisting in large lighting retrofits.
Service Lighting launched their new website and, over the next few years, increased their catalog from approximately 4,000 to more than 15,000 products!
Service Lighting was also chosen to host the 2004 Flashlight Collectors Convention based on their involvement and contributions through the Flashlight Museum.
Due to steady growth online, Service Lighting moved from Fridley, MN (after over 30 years) to a new, much larger and modern facility in Maple Grove, MN (where they still reside today).
Locally, Service Lighting on-boarded more national accounts and worked extensively with the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings to provide lighting solutions for their facilities.
During this time, Service Lighting also became internationally recognized as a premier source for lighting products and consultation for commercial businesses.
As Service Lighting continued to support thousands of businesses in Minneapolis, they re-branded their eCommerce identity as eLightBulbs.com. They quickly found that the new name resonated better with their online customer base looking to "buy light bulbs online".
Offering over 40,000 light bulbs and accessories, eLightBulbs becomes internationally known for providing an incredibly simple, yet feature-rich lighting store; The ultimate solution to buying light bulbs online.
Due to their reputation of providing fantastic customer service, eLightBulbs garners tens of thousands of 5-star reviews that isolated their place as the #1 place to purchase lighting products.
In 2008, eLightBulbs also launched their Business Services, a department of experienced and talented lighting consultants to service businesses world-wide; the Business Services department remains strong today and is growing rapidly.
In what is likely to be the final name change, Service Lighting purchased LightBulbs.com and re-builds their entire eCommerce infrastructure from scratch, focusing on user experience, product selection, an intelligent, custom-built lighting search engine, as well as mobile accessibility.
Boasting over 100,000 items in their catalog, LightBulbs.com was launched as the web's largest and most complete lighting store, with low prices, fast shipping and stellar customer service.
After 34 years, Dave McLellan retired to rural Wisconsin and his son Paul purchased the business from him. As the fourth owner and third McLellan owner, Paul works on maximizing vendor relationships, automating manual tasks, integrating with utilities and growing eCommerce and commercial business.
As of 2022, four of Paul's children work at LightBulbs.com, creating the next generation of McLellans in the lighting industry.