ROBINSON- While many American companies outsource jobs to other countries for cheap labor, a Waco-area business is moving their manufacturing plant in China to Robinson, Texas.
PRUF LED Founder and Chairman, Greg Klepper, expects new manufacturing equipment for their LED lights to be assembled in the remodeled Robinson building by the end of April. Then, the company will start looking to hire.
The corporate offices for the company have already moved from Hewitt to Robinson.
Currently, about a dozen people work at PRUF LED, but Klepper said the company’s goal is to expand to five or six times that number in a few years.
“I want to build everything we can possibly
build here in the United States,” Klepper said, adding that he is excited to help revitalize the Waco economy.
“We want to do what we can to improve that and actually bring the unemployment rate down overall,” PRUF CEO Chris Sadler said. “Specifically with the Waco area, we think this is a great place to be. The workforce is a great choice for us.”
PRUF is producing the LED’s, or “light-emitting diodes,” for big companies, like Mars, Coca-Cola and Alcoa, along with the city of Waco and several school districts.
The business is just one company in a small but growing local market of LED producers gaining interest from the wide variety of customers.
One happy customer, Parkview Christian Academy, now has more natural-looking LED’s to replace the traditional, sometimes humming and flickering classroom lights.
“I use my chalkboard all of the time,” said second grade teacher, Jill Kolinek. “I put the daily assignments, any kind of instruction, and there’s no glare. Even from here, if I were to look up at the chalkboard, I can see it very clearly and the kids copy many assignments from the chalkboard.”
But the appearance and convenience are only the beginning of LED benefits. The company is being embraced by Robinson and by the City of Waco, where the Chamber of Commerce is the first green chamber building in the country. In fact, PRUF LED retrofit the light posts outside the building to reduce energy dramatically.
“This is an example of one of the products that we’ll be manufacturing here,” said Sadler, holding a durable LED strip light, “and this can be used in the place of fluorescent lights. [It] puts out as many lumens, but it’s about half the energy.”
For customers, that means fewer light changes.
“Over 20, 30, 40, 50 thousand hours compared to maybe three to six thousand hours,” said Klepper, of the product longevity.
For the environment, using LED’s avoids carbon emissions and keeps harmful materials from old lights out of the landfill – two goals for an area hoping to be a hub for green technology.
“Almost all of the LED lighting is recyclable so there is no contaminants within an LED that can harm the environment,” Sadler said.
Both Sadler and Klepper said they’re proud of the company’s future in improving the local economy and the environment. A few jobs remain overseas, but, when they’re ready, the company will move everything to the United States.
By Christine McCarthy
KXXV TV Waco, Texas