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Element Slates U.S. TV Production

1/30/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

MINNEAPOLIS – Starting in March, U.S.-based
Element Electronics will open a new flat-panel TV
assembly factory in Canton, Mich., producing LCD
TVs measuring 46 inches and larger for its growing
retail base.

Some hope the move will spark a return of TV manufacturing
to the U.S., since the last remaining TV makers
shifted production to Asia and Mexico over the
past decade.

The company, whose founder, Mike
O’Shaughnessy, was at one time CEO of Polaroid
electronics line when the brand was controlled
by the infamous and defunct Petters Group, has
been serving mostly value-oriented consumer electronics
products to retail outlets, including Target,
Walmart, Costco and QVC since 2007.

Element also was a resource for Circuit
City before the chain’s closure, selling CE
goods sourced from Asia.

Element Electronics said it will begin
assembling large-screen TVs from a oneline
operation, owned by Lotus International,
to shorten its supply chain and lead
times. In time, the move is expected to
reduce costs, as production and shipping
expenses in China continue to grow and
Element’s production gradually ramps up.

“Utilizing an American factory will allow
Element to get the right products, at the
right price, to the right place at the right
time — as well as reduce waste and increase
the quality of the consumer’s outof-
box experience,” the company said.

O’Shaughnessy said the decision to
manufacturer TVs in the U.S. was an emotional
one: “We have watched for years as
jobs have left America for other countries.
We have wanted to and planned for producing
TVs here, at home. Element Electronics
wants to pioneer a resurgence of
creating quality manufacturing jobs in the
USA.”

Element plans to acquire component
parts from Shenyang, China-based Tongfang
Global, which Element has used as
an exclusive contract manufacturer for TVs
for the past year. U.S. assembly will focus
on larger-screen-size CCFL and LED LCD
TVs, which due to rising shipping costs
and other issues can be produced at
equivalent costs to having fully assembled
products shipped in from China, depending
on screen sizes and feature sets, according
to the company.

Requests for model specifics were not
answered as this went to press, but Element
and Harmen International’s JBL announced
plans to develop and launch premium
sounding flat-screen TVs using JBL
drivers. The sets will incorporate patented
designs that reduce the size of the speaker
while maintaining premium audio quality,
the companies said in a joint statement.

Element said its products “will be supported
with comprehensive warranties
and an after-sales support network that
extends through the life of the unit.”

Only a handful of manufacturers have
operated TV assembly operations in the
U.S. in recent years. Silo TV assembled
certain LCD TV models at a facility in City
of Industry, Calif., as late as last year, but is
opting to ship fully assembled sets in from
Asia for 2012. A company spokesperson
said that Silo may still resume some U.S.
set assembly here in the near future.

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