History

Standard Electric Supply Co.’s rich history of tradition, innovation, and service began in 1919 when the Standard Light Company was formed. Our founders saw the need for electric lighting and in-turn opened a business manufacturing their own line of fixtures and parts. They were determined to electrify the City of Milwaukee, one light at a time.

Over the years the company has evolved, but we have always stayed true to our traditions. Take a journey through the past, present, and future of Standard Electric, from our humble beginnings as a lighting manufacturer to the full line automation and controls distributor of today.

  • Our founders David Stern, David Siegel, Morris Stern, and Morris Tax formed Standard Light Company to manufacture and sell electric fixtures and parts in Milwaukee at a time when the area was sparsely electrified.

    In 1919, four visionary men; David Stern, David Siegel, Morris Stern and Morris Tax formed Standard Light Co., located at 448 E. Water Street in Milwaukee, WI. As a manufacturer of lighting fixtures and parts they planned to bring electric lighting to the sparsely electrified Milwaukee, WI area. Today, you know us as Standard Electric Supply Co. Read More...

  • Standard Light Co. associates manufacturing fixtures and parts in the 1920s.

    The 1920s brought prosperity to the nation and Standard Light Co. as the electrical needs of the area were expanding Standard Light Co. added small portable appliances to their product offering. Read More...

  • Standard Light Co. moved to a larger facility at 424 Chestnut St. in Milwaukee, WI. In 1924, the city changed the street name to Juneau Avenue.

    1921
  • Standard Light Co. moved to 311-313 5th Street in Milwaukee, WI, where we stayed for 59 years.

    1928
  • Our first Standard Guide recognizing us as an Electrical Distributor and using our new company name, Standard Electric Supply Co.

    The 1930s brought the Great Depression, despite the hard times that faced many, Standard Light Co. managed to flourish. Our founders listened to the needs of our customers and refocused the business on electrical distribution. Lighting manufacturing was phased out in the mid-thirties and our names changed to reflect our new business – we were now known as Standard Electric Supply Co. Read More...

  • During the war, Standard Electric focused on doing business with customers who had direct ties to the production of military equipment.

    The sting of the Great Depression subsided, and the economy began to bounce back. The early 1940s marked the beginning of WWII. The attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 changed the course of many businesses in America. Our founders were now tasked with coming up with a plan to keep the business up and running during a time of war. Read More...

  • The IBM System 1401 was installed in 1959. The Data Processing System assisted with order entry and was one of the first in the country at this time.

    Building upon the post-war growth and construction boom of the late 1940s, Standard Electric expanded their sales force throughout the State of Wisconsin. The company added more technical products like switches and panel boards, along with non-technical products like dinnerware, cookware, and utensils to its product mix. The company also expanded their major appliance group to include selling items like televisions and air conditioners. Read More...

  • Loading docks in the 1960s. The expanding freeway system allowed Standard Electric to remain in Milwaukee and deliver to our growing sales territory.

    The 1960s brought the music and civil rights revolutions, NASA even put a man on the moon. These were all pivotal moments that brought about a time of change in the nation. The 1960s were also a time of change for Standard Electric. The company expanded their product lines to include more industrial focused items as the customer base in the Milwaukee area began to shift toward industrial manufacturing. Read More...

  • Our residential lighting showroom closed in the late 70s.

    Standard Electric experienced more change in the 1970s. Realizing we could not serve the needs of every customer we scaled back our product offering. The company shifted focus to three main product categories; lighting, apparatus and supply, and housewares and small appliances. Read More...

  • Groundbreaking ceremony for our new office location in the Menomonee Valley in Milwaukee, WI.

    The industrial decline of the 1980s was dubbed the Rust belt Era. Many manufacturers in the Milwaukee area went bankrupt or moved out of the city. However, the manufacturers that did remain needed the automation and control products Standard Electric was now focused on supplying. This was advantageous for Standard Electric and the manufacturers. Read More...

  • Our new building in 1986 located at 222 N. Emmber Lane, Milwaukee, WI.

    1986
  • Larry and Adolph Stern (left to right) pose for a photo featured in Ted Magazine in 1992 regarding our advancements in EDI.

    The 1990s were all about planning for the future of the company. Over the years, there were many adjustments made to the business focus and product selections, the 90s were no exception. Standard Electric was tasked with planning for the changes in the marketplace, competition, technology advancements and the economy. Read More...

  • Our Appleton location was built and opened in 1992 to service the Fox River Valley area.

    1992
  • In 1996, Standard Electric opened another location in Madison, WI.

    1996
  • In 1998, Standard Electric opened a location in Stevens Point, WI.

    1998
  • Our first Automation Express was held in 2007 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI. Automation Express is a trade show featuring training seminars and supplier booths showcasing the latest technologies.

    The 21st century arrived, and we survived the Y2K scare. Standard Electric was poised for growth after the planned strategies of the 90s came to fruition. The company expanded from Wisconsin into Illinois and then into Indiana with new locations and acquisitions. We were well positioned to take on our competition. With additional locations and new value-added services, the company was experiencing rapid growth and continued success. Read More...

  • Our Sheboygan office opened in 2003 as a hub for our Enclosure Modification Center.

    2003
  • We expanded into the Illinois market with our acquisition of Dyna-Tech, an established Illinois Distributor.

    2003
  • In 2004, our second Illinois location was opened in Rockford.

    2004
  • In 2007, we opened a location in Eau Claire for our sister company SE Automation.

    2007
  • In 2008, a new location was built to home our sister companies SE Automation and Vision Control & Automation.

    2008
  • In 2009, we expanded into the Indiana market with our first location in Warsaw.

    2009
  • Groundbreaking ceremony in 2016 for our new Milwaukee office building expansion and renovation.

    Standard Electric entered the 21st century with positive momentum. Expanding into the Illinois and Indiana markets positioned us as a distribution powerhouse in the Midwest. With additional locations and new value-added services, the company was experiencing rapid growth and continued success. Read More...

  • In 2012, we acquired an Indianapolis based distributor and now had a second Indiana location in Indianapolis.

    2012
  • Our Champaign office was opened in 2012, to service the central Illinois market.

    2012
  • In 2014, our Chicago Ridge location was opened which is home to our CNC Machining Center.

    2014
  • Larry Stern, President of Standard Electric Supply Co. with son Matt Stern (left to right). The past, present and future of Standard Electric.

    Tradition. Innovation. Service. These are the pillars of Standard Electric’s success. From our humble beginnings over one hundred years ago, four visionary men started a company to manufacture light fixtures to illuminate the sparsely electrified City of Milwaukee, WI. Little did they know the founders of Standard Electric shaped the way the company still conducts business one hundred years later. We are proud of our past and excited for our future. Read More...