Cree acquired Ruud Lighting back in August and has now announced plans for a 208,000-ft2 expansion of Ruud's Racine, Wisconsin manufacturing facility. The company broke ground on the $24.5-million expansion on November 15, and said it will create 469 new jobs over the next four years driven by the growth in LED-based solid-state-lighting (SSL) deployment.
Ruud has been a pioneer in LED lighting with its BetaLED brand and has done especially well in outdoor-lighting applications. Chuck Swoboda, chairman and CEO of Cree, said, “Last month this facility shipped its 500,000th LED luminaire - further evidence of the market demand for the latest LED technology and a need to expand our facilities to maintain our leadership of the LED lighting revolution.”
The company will receive incentives totaling $8 million to help fund the project with the funds coming relative to job creation. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Racine County, Racine County Economic Development Corporation, and the Village of Sturtevant are all participating in the incentives.
Combining Cree Lighting and Ruud
The expansion will create space for new manufacturing lines that will produce both existing and new Cree Lighting products – including fixtures with heritage in Ruud and Cree. Ruud is operating as a subsidiary under the Cree Lighting organization that is focused on SSL fixtures as opposed to the LED-component focus of the overall Cree organization. We previously estimated that the combined Ruud and Cree lighting businesses would account for 20-25% of Cree's total revenue.
Cree has been operating a fixture-manufacturing line for Cree Lighting products at its Raleigh, North Carolina headquarters. The line has now been converted to a rapid-prototyping facility with all manufacturing moved to Racine.
Swoboda said, "Cree’s recent acquisition of Ruud Lighting and its BetaLED products brought together two leading LED lighting companies under one roof." Clearly the company is moving quickly to fully integrate the operations.
The expanded facility will primarily create jobs in fixture-assembly operations according to Cree, although the growth in general of the LED-lighting market will create other positions as well. The company also said it needed an expansion of its component- and product-storage capacity.
"This is exciting news for the lighting industry and Racine County," said Christopher Ruud, president of Cree’s Ruud Lighting subsidiary. "Beyond Cree’s dedication to advancing LED lighting technology, it’s a long-term investment in the people of Racine County and the community’s manufacturing base."