Charlie Szoradi, Chairman & CEO, Independence LED

Why Independence LED Moved Manufacturing Back to the US

May 21, 2014
Why moving manufacturing (production) back to the United States -- to Southeastern Pennsylvania, is the best decision my company has ever made." -- Independence LED Chairman & CEO Charlie Szoradi. Quality Proximity to Customers Technology & 7 more reasons

The vast majority of global lighting, either traditional or the new Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology, is currently manufactured in China. My company used to do the same thing: We built our products in China, relying on the inexpensive labor to keep our products low-cost. In 2010, we made the conscious decision to move our Independence LED ( manufacturing back to the United States -- to Southeastern Pennsylvania. It’s been the best decision my company has ever made. Our customers have asked if the move was based on patriotism over profit and I respond simply with: “Both.”

By moving manufacturing back to the United States, we have created American jobs, increased the quality of our products, doubled the average LED warranty (up to 10 years) and reduced our total costs through advanced automation and proximity to a large portion of our customers. Satellite maps of the night sky reveal the “hot spots” around the planet, and the U.S. Northeast Corridor glows like a beacon. Our operations outside of Greater Philadelphia are centered between Washington, DC and New York City, with easy access to the region that has the highest population density coupled with highest cost of electricity in the U.S. Putting a lighting business in an area that uses a lot of lights seemed like a pretty good idea.

Our customers now range from the Fortune 100 to the U.S. Military and from independent small business owners to franchise owners. With a growing national and international sales network, we educate our customers to look into the “Total Cost of Ownership,” which is often lower with U.S. made products. The idea is pretty simple: do it right from the start and save on the replacement labor and cost of shipping back failed imported products.

Here are some of the top reasons why we moved our manufacturing to produce “Made in America” LED technology:

Top Five Reasons Independence LED Manufactures in America:

  1. Quality Assurance – We were not seeing the consistency in quality control that met our standards with overseas production.
  2. Proximity – We were unable to deliver to U.S. customers in time frames that met our standards when relying on overseas shipping.
  3. Automation Technology – We found the automation equipment and strategic relationships to reduce production cost in the U.S.
  4. Deep Fin Aluminum Heat Sinks – We saw the thermal management advantages of deep fin aluminum heat sink, and it did not make sense to ship aluminum 10,000 miles around the world.
  5. Warranties Extended– When the industry average was 3 year warranties we wanted to lift it to 5. We achieved that, and because we have the performance results over multiple years with so few failures and so much faith in the reliability of our products built on American soil, Independence LED is now able to offer an industry-leading 10 year warranty.

Five More Reasons Independence LED Manufactures in America:

  1. Public Sector - ARRA Qualifications  – We saw incentives in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) as an advantage over imports for government purchases.
  2. Private Sector - Buy American Trend – We saw a trend among corporations to favor American Made products if the cost was comparable to imports.
  3. Direct American Job Creation – We saw an opportunity to support American job creation for economic recovery in the manufacturing sector.
  4. Indirect American Job Creation - We saw an opportunity to support American job creation for economic recovery in the “Ripple Effect” of jobs created through packaging design and production, support services, shipping, etc.
  5. American Energy Security – We saw an opportunity to foster more “Self-Reliance” with a stronger America that actually makes the products that it uses vs. buying them from overseas.

Beyond the innovation and production of LED technology, my company has responsibilities. Our first responsibility is to create value for our shareholders, our second responsibility is to pay our team every two weeks, and our third responsibility is to beat the drum of an American Energy Revolution to create demand for a field with great potential in an exciting chapter in world history. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings account for about 40% of energy consumption, of which a third of electricity goes toward lighting. Our products cut the lighting cost by 50% or more, so the energy savings impact is significant, both financially and environmentally.

Too often the pundits on TV -– people who do not have to meet a payroll -- debate the path to creating American jobs as contrary to “green” energy initiatives and the regulations or carbon penalties for corporations. American LED manufacturing, we’ve found, is a win/win for the environment and the economy, creating jobs and enhancing sustainability. By encouraging companies to switch the lights to LEDs made in America, Independence LED is able to help businesses reduce operating costs, help the environment, and foster economic recovery simultaneously. We’re shaving overhead by switching what’s overhead – and four years in, Independence LED couldn’t be prouder to stamp our products “Made in America.”

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