Huffpost Fifty

Hy Goldman, 99-Year-Old Employee, Celebrates 72 Years At Same Company

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HY GOLDMAN
Capitol Lighting

When it comes to careers, change has become the norm. According to the U.S. Labor Department, many people hold at least 10 different jobs between the ages of 18 and 40.

And that's precisely what makes Hy Goldman so unusual.

As of this week, Goldman, who will turn 100 years old in August, has worked at Capitol Lighting in New Jersey for 72 years -- or since June 1, 1941. He was hired by Ethel Lebersfeld, who founded the company in 1924 along with her husband Max Lebersfeld, an electrical contractor and immigrant from Austria-Hungary. The family-owned organization is now under the direction of a fourth generation of Lebersfelds.

In the early years, Goldman traveled to work from his home in Brooklyn by subway, train and bus. He was paid $35 for a 66-hour work week of six days and two nights.

Boasting two grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, Goldman currently works four days a week, and still drives his 1999 Ford Contour to work at the Capitol Lighting store in East Hanover, N.J. Originally hired to sell, stock and clean the displays, Goldman now specializes in making chandeliers and lamps out of odd parts at the large lighting showroom.

Huff/Post50 recently had the pleasure of speaking with Goldman, as well as to his boss, company co-chairman Herman Lebersfeld, who is 73.

What were you initially hired to do at Capitol Lighting?

Hy Goldman: My first job was a little bit of everything... selling, fixing things. I was first hired to work at a small retail store on Springfield Avenue in Newark. I commuted from those days from Brooklyn to Newark. I took two trains and a bus. I used to sleep on the train, which you could do in those days.

Herman Lebersfeld: He has done every position he could do. He taught me everything I know about warehousing and especially about how to unload a truck. He's bought and sold for us. He bought lighting fixtures. He keeps the place neat. He does everything. He's been my mentor.

So you've worked at Capitol Lighting constantly except for during the war, right?

Goldman: I was drafted into the army. I went into the service at the beginning of 1943. I came out in 1946.

Lebersfeld: When he came out, his job was here waiting for him.

Goldman: I owed two months' rent when I came back so I went to work the very next day after I got back from the service. My rent is those days was $17 a month. Can you believe it?

Lebersfeld: When he was 97 he had to have his driver's license renewed. He drove to the place to get it renewed and the clerk looked at his paperwork and said "I never renewed anyone's license who was 97. I need to get my supervisor." Hy said, "You don't need your supervisor. I can drive a submersible. Don't you think I can drive my Chevy to work?" He got his license.

What do you mostly enjoy doing for Capitol Lighting now?

Goldman: I try to salvage things. We'll get a light fixture in and there will be something broken. And I will fix it and we can sell it.

Lebersfeld: There's absolutely no job he can't do here.

What do you think about employees today who change jobs so often?

Goldman: I always stayed here because they were always fair to me. People can't be loyal to some of these big corporations because they don't think they're being treated fairly. People can't be dedicated to their employers when jobs are so insecure these days.

Lebersfeld: We have a lot of senior employees who have been here 30 or 40 years. This is a family business. And we all feel like a family.

Will you ever retire?

Goldman: I live in a senior development and every day there is an ambulance there. People are always coming and going. Every day is a gift. I exercise every day just by getting out of bed. I'm breathing and so I'm exercising. And I'm going to keep working.

Lebersfeld: He drives the 15 minutes to work every day. When it snows, he shovels and still comes in to work. He's not going anywhere.