Hudsonville's SoundOff Signal expects to hire workers to supply LED market

By Sharon Hanks 

Thanks to the growing LED market, SoundOff Signal, Inc. in Hudsonville continues to move forward with plans to hire five to seven more workers this year and expects to bring on board more employees in the next several years.

Chief Financial Officer Tom Roe says the company now employs 94 at its engineering and manufacturing site at 3900 Central Pkwy. That's up from 87 a year ago when the company won a seven-year state tax break to invest $6.1 million, mostly in new equipment and staff, to conduct research. New hires primarily have been technical professionals, such as engineers and others who validate test results, he says.

The company intends to continue hiring and purchasing equipment to meet the growing demand of LED lighting for parking structures, office furniture and contract work for LED illumination, he says. This non-automotive work expands its market beyond its current niche in light bars and warning lights for police vehicles, school busses and commercial vehicles. 

LED lighting is more expensive than traditional lighting, but the technology has advantages over incandescent lighting. "We're replacing a lot of incandescent lighting because LED (lighting) lasts longer -- 10 to 15 times longer -- than an incandescent bulb. It also consumes less energy and there is less maintenance cost (to replace the lights)," Roe says. 

SoundOff Signal also offers consulting, engineering and manufacturing services to companies throughout the United States that want to switch to the more energy-efficient lighting, Roe says.

Sales have been slower than the company anticipated a year ago, but they have started to pick up in recent months. "People seem to have more capital to spend, so that's a good sign," Roe says.

SoundOff Signal has yet to take advantage of high-technology grants of up to $1,000 per job, with a cap at $25,000; however, Roe says the company will probably apply to tap that source later this year. 

Roe expects SoundOff Signal to hire five employees every year for the next three years with an additional 25 during the remaining three years ending in 2016 to take full advantage of the seven-year tax break. 

Source: Tom Roe, SoundOff Signal, Inc.'s chief financial officer, Hudsonville.

Sharon Hanks is innovations and jobs news editor at Rapid Growth Media. Please send story ideas and comments for the column to Sharon at [email protected] She also is owner of The Write Words in Grand Rapids.
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