If Electric Mirror’s success story seems a reflection of the American dream, that’s the way the Mischel family sees it too. Starting small, and sharing a vision, their dream is still unfolding even as their business has gone global.
“For us, it’s always been about faith and family,” said founder and President Jim Mischel, a philosophy that hasn’t changed since he first set up shop in his family’s home in the Pacific Northwest.
Jim Mischel Sr., or “Doc”, a former dentist with the heart of an inventor, and now Electric Mirror’s Chairman and Vice President of Research and Development, had spent many happy hours working on projects in the family’s three-car garage. So it was only natural, he says, when son Jim wanted to launch his business there.
That garage, in Lynnwood, Washington, is where the Mischel family turned out Jim’s first innovation, a high-end defogging mirror. In those days, family and workforce were one and same, with parents Faith and Doc, and younger brother Aaron handling everything from sales and phones to manufacturing. Younger sister Mia, though still in school, was also kept in the picture. It wasn’t long before stacks of orders began piling up beyond the garage, moving room to room through the house. When those stacks finally found their way into the kitchen, Faith said, she knew Electric Mirror was ready to take things to the next level.
Jim’s expanded production line soon included luxury Lighted Mirrors and Makeup Mirrors, an area in which he saw huge potential for upscale hotels. That foresight would later be realized in a big way, but in the beginning the hotel industry was slow to share his vision. “It took two to three years minimum before our concept caught on.”
Surprising technology with beautiful design work has distinguished Electric Mirror from the beginning, first in the hospitality industry and now with a growing residential client base. The company’s Lighted Mirrors sell more than any of their competitors combined, along with Lighted Makeup vanities and Mirrored Medicine Cabinets.
Jim, a former patent attorney, has acquired 38 patents, and has 12 more pending, for cutting edge technology specific to his products. “We’ve always been into innovative technology – first with Mirror Defoggers, then Makeup Mirrors, Lighted Mirrors and Mirror TVs. It’s always been about something we wanted to do, then getting the technology to make it happen,” said Jim.
With this success has come an ongoing need for more manufacturing and design space at Electric Mirror. “We went from four employees in a garage to 10 in the house, then 20 in a small facility, then made the jump to 75 and now we’re well over 300,” said Jim.
The company is currently in a 50,000 square foot facility in Everett, Washington, and is preparing to move to a 100,000 square foot building near the end of 2015. Everything from metalwork, glasswork, and wiring takes place under one roof.
“You start with God, that comes first; then family, and then the business.”. That’s been the foundation for the Mischel family’s version of the American dream, a story that’s still far from being finished.