California LED products manufacturer bringing overseas work to new Brookfield HQ

Production to begin in August with 10-15 employees in first year

The area pictured will be of Optec's assembly areas with adjacent parts racking in the company's new Brookfield facility. (Credit: Optec LED Lighting)

Last updated on July 1st, 2019 at 03:53 pm

Ontario, California-based Optec LED Lighting is moving ground-up production from China to a renovated, centralized facility in Brookfield with plans to eventually make Wisconsin its new headquarters.

Jeff Gatzow, vice president of Optec, said the company is leasing a 14,000-square-foot facility at 13040 W. Lisbon Road, across from the Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. headquarters. At its new facility, the company will perform heavy production, research and development, and sales and support operations.

The company will be re-configuring or modifying already-built Optec products as well as completely manufacturing its parking-garage luminaire product at the new facility when production begins in August.

Optec will eventually purchase a larger building and hire more employees as its Brookfield operations ramp up.

“The company’s long-range plan is to grow into a larger facility that we will own,” Gatzow said in a statement sent to BizTimes. “Year one head count is 10 to 15 employees, and we anticipate this to double by the second year.”

Optec will continue using its 10,000-square-foot facility in California for warehousing, light manufacturing and sales support, he added.

Gatzow said a chief reason Optec decided to relocate ground-up production work from overseas is to increase efficiency. Also, in order to bring more products to market, the company is expanding its research and development efforts that are being consolidated in Wisconsin.

“To be more efficient, production needs to be closer to the market place to better service customers on both coasts,” Gatzow said. “Additionally, there is ever-increasing pressure to reduce our lead times from eight weeks to four, which becomes more challenging when components are sourced and manufactured overseas.”

Optec specifically looked at southeastern Wisconsin because it has an “excellent supply chain that supports the lighting industry” and is centrally located so that the company can service both its Midwest and East Coast customers, Gatzow said. He noted there are 24 technical schools and universities in the Milwaukee region, which creates a “deep talent pool” in a tight labor market.

“This area has a long history of manufacturing with workers continually upgrading their skill sets, which will help us fill the production positions,” he said.

Optec Displays, the former parent company of Optec LED Lighting, for more than 30 years focused exclusively on exterior LED products, according to the company’s website. In 2010, the company established an LED lighting division to serve commercial industries. Optec is now an independent company.

One of Optec’s clients is the city of South Milwaukee, which recently converted to LED lighting in its municipal buildings.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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