March 2016

Joseph Belfer
Specification Sales
O'Blaney Rinker Associates 


Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
At about nine pounds, eight ounces, I was pretty sure lighting would be an important part of my life. Many of you know Belfer Group, and that’s my family. I’m standing on the shoulders of giants, and I'm very proud of what my family has accomplished and what we still mean to this industry. Speaking of which, to the point of the question, I started in the Belfer factory about 19 years ago, doing part-time work during my summers. Over the years I became more involved, and have worked the gamut of jobs required in a manufacturing facility, soup to nuts. Anyone who works in the lighting industry should have a very personal relationship with wire strippers, a screwdriver, and some electrical tape. The acquired skills and appreciation for “doing the work” have enabled me to thrive in otherwise difficult times, and from a business perspective, I've learned invaluable lessons about our industry. They get that at O’Blaney Rinker, so it’s a real pleasure to represent Belfer in this new phase of my career with such a great group of people.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
Volunteered, actually. I have had a longstanding respect for this organization and the people in it since I was a pup. My family has supported and has been active in this community for as long as I can remember. So, it was a simple matter of me finally stepping up and getting involved.

Q: How do you see your role as member of the IESNYC?
Anybody who knows me knows I don’t like to stand around twiddling my thumbs. Currently, I sit on the IESNYC Membership and Sponsorship Committees, offering insight, leadership and forward-thinking to expand and improve the experience with my fellow IESNYC members. I also currently chair the recently formed Richard Kelly Grant Committee to liaise with the Richard Kelly Grant Board and the IESNYC Board of Managers. I helped represent the Section at the recent IES National Conference, which was a privilege and a very telling experience. I like to think I build and maintain longstanding, positive relationships throughout the lighting community at large, and I hope to be able to help bridge the path for this new generation of lighting professionals and share with them the traditions, history and passion for the industry that I was exposed to and ultimately led to my career in lighting.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
What we do here in NYC really matters, and we have a tendency to set the tone for innovation and new design practices. NYC has this amazing talent pool and active membership that empowers us as a Section. We are front and center to the world market for good reason, and after 100-plus years, this section is still kicking hard—what more do I have to say? I’m just glad to be a part of the team.