Foxconn exec seeks patience from potential Wisconsin suppliers

Woo outlines potential of 8K+5G ecosystem

Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, visits a recruiting event at Marquette.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:12 pm

A top Foxconn executive asked business leaders to “be patient” when it comes to working with the company to establish an ecosystem around 8K+5G technology.

Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, visits a recruiting event at Marquette.

“Just be patient,” said Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, during a panel discussion at the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Future Wisconsin Summit. He was joined on the panel by Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Secretary Mark Hogan and Department of Administration Secretary Scott Neitzel.

Foxconn is projected to spend $1.4 billion annually with Wisconsin suppliers once its $10 billion LCD manufacturing operation in Mount Pleasant is fully operational. The company’s contract with the state requires some reporting on its spending with Wisconsin suppliers, but it makes clear the company does not have an obligation to hit certain spending targets in the state.

Woo and other executives have also described ambitious plans for using 8K+5G technology – which combines screen resolution that is better than the human eye and next generation cellular connections – to offer new solutions in industries like entertainment, health care, security and advanced manufacturing.

“We are not only building televisions in Wisconsin,” Woo said.

The heart of the campus is a generation 10.5 LCD panel factory that will produce huge displays that could be as large as 107 square feet. Woo said the factory will ultimately produce up to 7 million units per year, enough to cover one-third of Milwaukee.

The campus will also have a high precision tool and die facility, a back-end packaging operation and a front-end assembly facility.

He said the company would be investing in companies with image capturing technology to pair with the high-resolution screens. The possible result of those efforts include improved remote consultations for doctors, reduced blood loss in surgery or the ability to detect small imperfections in manufacturing settings.

“We’ll be builiding up the ecosystem,” Woo said.

But building up the ecosystem will take time. Neitzel suggested the Foxconn project had now reached the end of the first quarter and would be entering a period where fundamental things like site plans and infrastructure are dealt with.

However, Woo said that description was too advanced and if the project were a sporting event, the national anthem had just been sung before kickoff.

He urged companies looking to partner with or be suppliers to Foxconn to be patient, adding that if they ask for a meeting the company may not be able to respond immediately.

“Hopefully the clarity will be more in coming early next year,” Woo said.

A number of Foxconn’s suppliers are also likely to follow the company from its operations in Asia. In an October interview, Woo said those companies would likely arrive during the later part of the four- or five-year construction process.

Hogan joked that Woo’s desire for patience was a departure from negotiations over Foxconn’s contract.

“All I wanted to do was to talk about the contract and figure out how we’re going to do the details of the contract and my friend Louis, who is my friend, he was planning the parties,” Hogan said.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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