State of the Region: Made in America




Wednesday, May 23, 2012
7:30 AM – 8:00 AM Registration
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM Program


Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue
Grand Ballroom – 4200 City Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19131


A growing national trend is prompting American companies to re-evaluate their sourcing options and consider bringing jobs and economic growth back to America. Join us to hear from David Muir, “ABC World News” weekend anchor and correspondent for the broadcast’s special “Made in America” reports, as he explores the challenges and benefits of creating and purchasing American-made products. The discussion will be moderated by BrianTaff, Anchor/Reporter, 6abc Action News. The program will also feature a panel discussion with leading regional manufacturers and industry experts who will explore local manufacturing trends and discuss how Greater Philadelphia companies are responding to labor costs and tax incentives, and helping create jobs within the region.

In addition, Select Greater Philadelphia will release its 7th annual Regional Report, which highlights the quality and size of Greater Philadelphia’s diverse workforce. Network with top business executives, policy makers, and civic leaders from throughout the 11-county region as we come together for this major event.
Michael Araten, President & CEO, K’NEX Brands, L.P.
Robert “Duane” Dickson, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Charlie Szoradi, Chairman & CEO, Independence LED Lighting, LLC
Sarah Van Aken, CEO & Founder, S.V.A. Holdings Corporation


State of the Region: MADE in AMERICA 


Date: May 23rd 2012: Line of Questions from Brian Taff of 6abc Action News for Mr. Szoradi: 


Your Independence LED company reported that its 2011 LED Tube sales grew nearly 300% from 2010, the same year you brought manufacturing back from China. How has reshoring production contributed to your company’s growth? Plus, how can the energy and manufacturing sectors work together to create sustainable manufacturing jobs in Greater Philadelphia?


 Mr. Szoradi spoke on a range of topics across the panel discussion including the following:


Independence LED is a U.S. Manufacturer of Light Emitting Diode (LED) Tubes that replace the less efficient fluorescent tubes which have dominated commercial lighting for over 50 years. Our clients range from small business owners, right here in Greater Philadelphia, like Braxton’s Animal Works on the Main Line to national chains and Fortune 100 Companies like MetLife and Morgan Stanley.  We recently completed the retrofit of a 200,000 sq. ft. Distribution Center in New York that now has over 2 miles of our LEDs, that’s over 30 football fields of lighting, and we cut their operating cost by more than 50% on electricity. It may stand as the largest facility retrofit with tubes in US History. Two years ago, we moved our manufacturing from China to Greater Philadelphia and we have helped transform this great city from the home of American Independence to the home of American Energy Independence.


We attribute our success to American passion and innovation. From the teams on the factory floor to the engineers all of the way over to our account managers –  we carry the same torch. (Mr. Szoradi held up the Independence LED 4’ LED Tube like a sword and displayed it proudly to the 400 attendees) The simple message:, “Welcome to the American ENERGY Revolution”. He described that the LED technology offers the highest efficiency and the longest lasting light created to date with just 15 Watts vs the 32 watts for a typical fluorescent tube in the ceiling. Szoradi also described that there are four drivers for growth that all center around bringing the Manufacturing home to America:


#1: Higher Quality: Our accuracy is within 1/1000 of an inch and we maintain the highest color consistency.


#2: Higher Efficiency across the Supply Chain: We don’t have to ship products 12,000 miles.


#3: Higher Volume to meet growing demand: With 4 one and a half million dollar automated assembly lines we can put over 18,000diodes per hour on the printed circuit boards yielding tens of millions in product as the demand increases.


#4: Higher Customer Service: It’s no accident that we’re here in Philadelphia right between Washington DC and New York – with over a third of the population of the country on the eastern seaboard. We can respond in person and within days and weeks vs months on product requests.


Collectively those four factors have driven our growth and started to truly change the game in this multi-billion dollar lighting industry.


Over the course of the Panel discussion, Mr. Szoradi spoke about the advantage of the Made in America LED Tubes, held up one of the 4’ American Made LED Tubes, and also responded to questions about job creation as an American LED Tube Manufacturer. The event theme certainly had American patriotism at the core, and Mr. Szoradi spoke about Return on Investment and (ROI) as well as creating living wage jobs.


He cited research by PENN State on a study with living wages for two adults and one child running $43K per year and for two adults with two children over $56K. Mr. Szoradi provided a breakdown to give some context to this job discussion as it relates from one American Made LED Tube to a larger order.

On every $1 Million dollars of products sold such as LED lights, we can assess the jobs created:

Energy Auditing: 3% to 6%: 1

Engineering and Manufacturing: 20%: 4 to 5

Installation: 20%: 4 to 5

The Ripple effect: 1

The Ripple Effect of Made in USA LED Tubes falls into a Full Time Equivalent category for administrative support, shipping and handling, bookkeeping, and even the jobs created to make the shipping boxes and the palates. The yield is 10 to 12 jobs created for every million dollars of installed Made in US LED Tubes.  Overall, the 4’ Made in USA LED Tube that Mr. Szoradi held in his hand at the panel served as symbol for a challenge when he referenced that…if you are going to pick a fight with the largest lighting companies in the world, you better have a big stick.


In addition to the jobs created through each Made in US LED Tube, every million dollars of installed technology typically saves a property manager or owner $200,000 or more each year for the next decade or longer. So, the CALL to ACTION for job creation is not to the federal, state or local government but to all of the business owners. With American LED Tubes we can reduce operating costs and create jobs by retrofitting our own businesses. We can create stronger businesses and stronger communities and put the “money to work” at 20% ROI or higher.


To learn more about the Independence LED Tubes and the US Manufacturing, see the page for Videos, Technology Differentiation, Retrofit Photo files, and other support documents.


Appreciation and Reviews:


I wanted express my gratitude for your participation yesterday. We have received rave reviews about the program and the quality of the conversation. Attendees said it was the best in all 8 years, and our Vice President of Research and chief economist told me it was the best regional panel he has ever heard. Below are links to media we have received from yesterday as well as a link to our blog with an exclusive video of David Muir. With the help of concerned business leaders like you, I am confident the Made in America movement will remain strong in Greater Philadelphia. Thank you again for your time.


Kate J. Kareha: Coordinator, Programs & Events, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce: 200 South Broad Street, Suite 700  Philadelphia, PA 19102; P: 215-790-3607   F: 215-790-3699   E:


Sample Media Coverage:


Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) Blog: Made in America: A Growing Trend; Posted Thursday, May 24th, 2012 Nearly 400 business leaders gathered yesterday at the Chamber’s eighth annual State of the Region to explore the growing Made in America trend. The event, which was held at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue, featured an interview with ABC World News’ David Muir and a panel discussion led by regional manufacturers who have brought production back to America. The program was moderated by Brian Taff, Anchor/Reporter, 6abc Action News.


The panel discussion centered on the benefits of doing business here in Greater Philadelphia. Panelists included Michael Araten, President & CEO, K’NEX Brands, L.P.; Robert “Duane” Dickson, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP; Charlie Szoradi, Chairman & CEO, Independence LED Lighting, LLC; and Sarah Van Aken, CEO & Founder, S.V.A. Holdings Corporation.


The panelists remarked on Philadelphia’s premier location between Washington D.C. and New York, two consumer powerhouses, and also credited the region’s abundant business resources, good infrastructure and strong support base. In addition, Greater Philadelphia’s technology, low energy costs and top talent are helping local manufacturers keep costs down and produce high quality products.


The event also featured the release of Select Greater Philadelphia’s 7th annual Regional Report, which highlights the quality and size of Greater Philadelphia’s diverse workforce.


View what keynote speaker David Muir, “ABC World News” weekend anchor and correspondent for the broadcast’s special “Made in America” reports, has to say about the importance of this growing trend, why companies are shifting production back to America, how Philadelphia fits into the overall Made in America movement, and more.


Bucks County Courier TimesMade in America Makes Sense, business leaders say

PHILADELPHIA — Better quality control, rising shipping costs and the desire for job growth at home are driving the move of jobs from overseas back to America, a group of Philadelphia-area business leaders said Wednesday. “We decided to run the numbers,” said Charlie Szoradi, chairman and CEO of Independence LED Lighting LLC of Devon. “And we brought our manufacturing home.” Szoradi, whose company moved its manufacturing back to the United States from China about two years ago, was part of a panel that spoke Wednesday during the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s eighth annual State of the Region breakfast. Nearly 400 business leaders from the 11-county region — which includes Bucks and Montgomery counties — attended the event, held at the Hilton Philadelphia City Line hotel. Brian Taff of 6ABC served as moderator. Like Independence LED Lighting, Hatfield-based toymaker K’Nex also decided to move its production back to the United States several years ago, said CEO Michael Araten. “It started as a moral decision,” Araten said. “We’re a third-generation family business. We have a responsibility. Then, my job as CEO — I have to make money at it, too. Let’s do it properly.” Full Article


Philadelphia Inquirer  – Made in America makes sense again.


PHILADELPHIA Independence LED brought the manufacture of its energy-efficient LED tubes, designed to replace fluorescent lighting, back from China to a highly automated factory in Boyertown in summer 2010. Charles Szoradi, CEO of Independence LED, said that put it closer to its commercial customers in the Washington-to-New York corridor.Full Article


6abc –  Coverage of the Made in America State of the Region Event.


PHILADELPHIA – May 23, 2012 (WPVI) — The Philadelphia Chamber of commerce hosted another member of the extended Action News family today. ABC World News Weekend Anchor David Muir joined me as we talked about the Made in America movement. Lots of local business leaders were on hand, including 6abc President and General Manager Bernie Prazenica there, as the two of us explored the trend that is making an impact, including here at home. Full Article and Video