About the Founders

Steve and Lori Leveen co-founded Levenger in 1987 with a vision to provide Tools for Serious Readers. Levenger is a blend of the couple’s last names—Leveen (Steve) and Granger (Lori's maiden name).

Steve holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of California, San Diego and both a master's and doctoral degree in sociology from Cornell University. Steve has served on the boards of the National Book Foundation, the YPO International Education Committee, the Conscious Capitalism organization, the Delray Beach Public Library, and various businesses. Steve is also a founder of Loop for Literacy, an annual fundraiser for the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County.

Steve was a Fellow of the Advanced Leadership Initiative (ALI) of Harvard University in 2015 and a Fellow of the Distinguished Career Institute (DCI) at Stanford University in 2016.

He is the author of The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life (2005), Holding Dear: The Value of the Real (2013) and America's Bilingual Century (2021) and hosts the podcast America the Bilingual, part of a project to encourage bilingualism and biliteracy in America.

Lori graduated from Vassar College, New York, with honors in history and holds a master's degree in international business from Georgetown University of Washington, DC. She serves on committees for both of her alma maters as well as for several local charities in South Florida. Lori and Steve have two sons and live in Delray Beach, Florida, where Levenger is headquartered.


First light

In 1987, the idea for Levenger saw its first light. It grew from the frustration of finding a space to read comfortably.

There we were in our new living room, in the house we'd stretched for, and there wasn't enough light so both Steve and I could read," Lori later wrote. "We started joking around, fighting for the seat next to Grandma's old dinosaur floor lamp. Then it dawned on us.

It was then that co-founders Lori and Steve Leveen looked around and saw that a revolution of sorts had just begun in lighting technology. At the time, few Americans were aware of this new type of bulb called halogen. This would spawn the idea to equip readers and writers with the best source of lighting available, and thus, Levenger was born.

We started by selling good reading lights and readers were very responsive because we were the first company that took their special needs seriously, said Lori Leveen.

First thing we (finally) did right

Pooling their retirement funds, Lori and Steve sold their first new car and got down to business in their garage. As funds dwindled and a quiet panic mounted, they decided to try an ad in a different magazine: The New Yorker.

In the October 12, 1987 issue of The New Yorker, their first one-inch ad ran with the line “Serious Lighting for Serious Readers.” Soon after, requests came raining in and it was the inch that gave a mile.

Now, every year on Steve’s birthday— October 12—we toast The New Yorker and its readers.

Tools for Serious Readers

The first Levenger catalog was one sheet of paper, folded twice, printed in black and white, and featured halogen lights.

By the winter of 1989, Lori and Steve knew they needed to look for a proper business location. Massachusetts, Maine and Maryland were all places considered and where they had ties to. But it was a cold March in the Northeast that year. Steve’s father was living in a quiet slice of sunshine in South Florida, where commercial real estate was attractively priced. By that fall, Levenger was headquartered in Delray Beach, Florida.

“We listened to what our customers told us they wanted. Good lighting. Bookcases. Well-made chairs and desks. Reading accessories. H'mmm, accessories. What was a better word for that? Products…items…tools. Yes, that was it: Tools for Serious Readers,” said Steve Leveen.

Growing up, branching out

In 1991 alone, three million catalogs were mailed as a second warehouse was opened near Boca Raton, Florida. By 1993, Levenger had grown to offer desks, bookcases, seating and leather briefcases. That same year, Inc. Magazine ranked Levenger number 8 among America's fastest-growing, privately held companies.

“Our customers are lawyers, business people, professors, writers, scientists, and others who must read a lot for their professions and usually read a lot at home, too. Due to customer requests, we gradually expanded from lamps into unusual furniture and accessories,” said Lori.

By 1995, we had fulfilled our one-millionth order: for the slim version of our Shirt Pocket Briefcase®, which is still offered today. Later that year, we launched our Professional & Corporate Sales division, offering elegant and exclusive products and gifting essentials to Fortune 500 companies and other prestigious organizations.

In February of 1996, Levenger received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Florida Sheriff’s Association in recognition of outstanding contribution to the Florida Youth Ranch stores. By July, the website was launched, providing customers with continuous access to our ever-growing selection of products.

Since then, Levenger has been a pinnacle for customers who enjoy making things happen. Exponential growth was the result of the founders’ own passion for empowering and inspiring their customers, many of whom are well-known achievers in the fields of business, arts and letters.

History to be written

Today, the Levenger commitment to readers, writers and thinkers continues.

As Lori and Steve say, “We learned early on that a customer is more important than any transaction. We treat customers like friends, we tell the truth, watch out for them, protect them—not the company—and trust that they will continue to give us their trust in return.”


We look forward to continuing to surprise and delight the serious readers of the world.