Donation Ceremony Statement by Congressman Charles W. Dent

I am pleased this evening to pay tribute to two remarkable American business leaders, Joel and Ruth Spira, for their incredible contributions to domestic innovation and the preservation of our nation’s rich industrial history.

As the inventor and developer of the solid-state electronic dimming device, and chairman and founder of Lutron Electronics, Joel Spira has had a profound impact on the electric lighting industry in the United States and abroad. Since its creation over 50 years ago, Lutron has been the unmistakable driving force behind the development of today’s advanced lighting technology. Over the last five decades, the Spiras steadfast commitment to developing cutting-edge technology, promoting customer satisfaction, and generating an incredibly talented and loyal workforce has helped Lutron emerge as a technology powerhouse on a global scale.

Under the Spiras’ leadership, Lutron has also become an invaluable economic presence in the Lehigh Valley, an area known for its vibrant industrial history. During the 20 years I have known the Spiras, Lutron has played an integral role in enhancing our region's competitiveness in the global economy through the development of pioneering green technologies that I am confident will help usher in a new manufacturing era in the Lehigh Valley. Lutron also provides high-quality jobs to thousands of the people I represent. The state of Pennsylvania has recognized Lutron as one of the best places to work in the Commonwealth on three occasions since 2000, earning the Spiras a reputation among my constituents as one of the most appealing local employers -- so appealing that I’ve lost members of my own staff to Lutron.

But today we recognize the Spiras for their contributions to technology and generous donation to the National Museum of American History, which includes some of the most noteworthy technological advancements and energy-saving inventions in the history of electric lighting. This collection represents a unique aspect of domestic manufacturing and exemplifies the power of American innovation. While these items fostered the growth of Lutron, they have also helped countless American enterprises flourish by dramatically cutting energy costs and improving the efficiency of buildings. Each year, products developed by the Spiras save nearly 10 billion kWh of electricity in the U.S., accounting for approximately $1 billion in utility savings. The quality of Lutron’s products and their capacity to cut costs has not gone unnoticed here in Washington. Currently, lighting in numerous Smithsonian Institution museums, the Capitol Visitors Center, the Dirksen Senate Office Building, and even the White House’s Oval Office is controlled by sophisticated Lutron systems.

I am extremely proud that the collection of the National Museum of American History will soon include items that have help shaped the rich history of the Lehigh Valley. As a friend of the Spiras, I believe their achievements exemplify the unrivaled power of American industry. Including significant materials from Lutron’s history in the Smithsonian’s collection is a fitting way to pay tribute to these incredible innovators.