US Manufactured LED Lighting
Feb 22 2020
Verde Recently was welcomed to visit the site of our High Bay LED Lights for warehouses by Signify (formerly Philips Lighting). This plant is in Tupelo, Mississippi and has a strong heritage and high quality manufacturing.
Verde purchases close to a million dollars worth of Signify products each year, and is a trusted partner and distributor. From Evokits to High Bay fixtures, Signify is best in class for LED fixtures. In addition – they have serious daylight harvesting and occupancy sensor history and abilities.
It was my first time in Mississippi, and I have to say – I loved it. The people were very kind and patient, the food was outstanding, and the land around northern Mississippi was beautiful. It didn’t hurt that it was 70 degrees in February when I visited.
It sounds like this plant was originally brought to Tupelo after World War II with tax incentives, and it was a small manufacturer out of St. Louis that moved there. That company was purchased a few times until ultimately falling under the Philips umbrella in early 2000.
Tupelo has relatively low labor costs, and also has great shipping access for national distribution.
It is evident that these types of high bay fixtures, which typically integrate sensors that can take in daylight harvesting and manage occupancy, are made to order in a lean methodology.
It has been our experience that these fixtures can take 6-8 weeks to produce, but it has been much lower the past year or two. The plant showed a commitment to keeping this timeline down, in every communication with me. It was clear that they were aware of this negative timeline, and they were working hard to correct it.
Verde has been considering switching our crew from 5 eight hour days to 4 ten hour days. The plant had recently made this switch and it appears to be an overall positive. A few notes that I learned on this subject.
Employees seem to see this as a positive, from what I was told. It opens them up to overtime on Fridays, and has made some positive impact on production efficiency. It keeps them free to enjoy the weekend, with access to 3 day weekends when overtime is not available.
One drawback was that office engineers and staff work 5 day weeks still, so there were often challenges in communication between teams. A few examples came up where a customer needed some information late on a Thursday, and they had to wait until Monday to get this completed.
US Benefits for Manufacturing
There are many benefits to US manufacturing – but there are some drawbacks.
Compared to the rest of the world, our labor costs are high. This can’t be avoided in manufacturing. However, there is a huge benefit to having US folks make our product, including the benefit to our economy.
Some purchasing agencies require Made in the USA. This can open Verde up to projects that others cannot bid on.
Finally, US made and US stored means that products can arrive faster. While made to order products take longer, they theoretically can turn on a dime to make order deliveries in a short time frame.
US Drawbacks for Manufacturing
Since many of our facilities are decades old and lack consistent investment, much of the equipment is older. When I visited Chinese manufacturing in Shenzhen, everything was less than 20 years old since the city barely existed 40 years ago. This did not always mean that there was state of the art equipment, but everything was new and with modern design.
Conclusion to Philips Manufacturing
I would say the most meaningful part of my trip, other than stopping at the Neon Pig in Tupelo, was seeing generations of folks making products in the US. This facility had an employee with over 50 years at the same location, and many 2nd generation working in the facility. There was something about that longevity that struck a chord in me.
You can count on this – Verde and Signify will continue to grow together – maybe not for the next 50 years, but for a long time.
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