BetaLED lands Los Angeles street light project

The city of Los Angeles recently approved retrofitting 140,000 of its high pressure sodium street lights with LED light fixtures, and BetaLED, a division of Racine-based Ruud Lighting Inc., is one of two companies that will supply the new fixtures.

BetaLED’s street lights are sold under the LEDway brand name.

The Los Angeles contract is the company’s third large-scale West Coast project. It has previously supplied LED fixtures to Anchorage Alaska and Pacific Gas & Electric, which supplies central and northern California, said Kevin Orth, director of sales with BetaLED.

Last week, BetaLED shipped its first 4,000 light fixtures to Los Angeles. By Friday, the city had already installed about 1,000 of the replacement lights.

“We’re working with the city, and they’re warehousing (the lights),” Orth said. “We’re working on controlling their inventory, and we’re setting it up so it works for them.”

By switching to LED street lights, Los Angeles is expected to save about $10 million in energy costs and maintenance per year.

“We’re excited that LEDway streetlights are a part of the largest LED street lighting retrofit program to date,” said Al Ruud, president of Ruud Lighting. “The project validates that LED technology is ready for the mainstream.”

Orth said that BetaLED is now positioned as an industry leader because of its inclusion in the L.A. project.

“Los Angeles did a very extensive, two-year study, and a lot of eyes are looking at what they did because the process was so thorough,” Orth said. “It was very exhaustive and involved more than a dozen manufacturers. (The project) is starting to set the tiers of acceptance and performance of LED lighting and we’re happy to be in a leadership position.”

Ruud Lighting is growing due to increased demand for its products, including its LEDway systems. The company currently has about 500 employees in its approximate 500,000 square foot facility in Racine, and is now ramping up second shift production.

In early 2008, Ruud had about 550 employees. The company laid off about 10 percent of its workforce in February and has started rebuilding its workforce over the last month.

“We’re hiring every week as orders come in,” said Gianna O’Keefe, marketing leader with Ruud.

 “The reason is the length of the sales cycle with the municipalities. We had a lot of bobbers out there and we’re just now starting to reel them in.”

Because of the increasing popularity in LED lighting and the increasing interest in energy efficiency, the company believes it has strong growth potential over the next several years.

“We’re hoping that our momentum continues to move forward,” Orth said. “We’re very excited to be hiring now, with the unemployment rate in Racine at about 17 percent. This is something we don’t take lightly – we feel very fortunate to be in this position.”


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