By Dave Robinson, Pro Sound News Europe
Seattle (December 11, 2006)–Loud Technologies will cease much of the manufacturing at its EAW factory in Whitinsville, MA in the New Year. On November 22nd, the management gave ’60-days’ notice’, as is legally required in the US, of the changes to its staff of just over 100. The company will soon start scaling down its manufacturing and moving it to other Loud facilities in Asia.
Ken Berger–the original co-founder of Eastern Acoustic Works with Kenton Forsyth in 1978, and now senior vice-president for Loud–sees the move as a positive business move for the brand. “This will dramatically improve the availability of EAW product outside the USA.” He said the return on investment will be greater, too.
The company intends to keep a prototyping shop and have some ‘build to order’ capability in Whitinsville. According to Loud, engineering and application support, product development, technical support and sales will remain in the US. Berger confirmed that completion of the transition of high volume manufacturing would occur sometime in early 2007.
Loud first moved offshore on a large scale in 2003, when jobs from the Seattle Mackie factory were moved to Asia, including facilities in Malaysia, China and Thailand. A similar action with the EAW operation has been on the cards since Loud saw how successful the Mackie move was, Berger revealed.
“It’s all about fulfilling our customers’ needs,” he continued. “[In Asia,] we are building the highest quality products at the best value, and we’ve seen a significant improvement in our ability to address increased demand for our gear. Additionally, as more and more EAW loudspeakers incorporate on-board electronics, bringing manufacturing resources into closer proximity will not only improve overall quality, but significantly improve time-to-market. In the US we are committed to maintaining product research, development, and so forth.” Asked if the shift to Asia had been encouraged by Sun Capital, the private investment firm that acquired over half of the Mackie shares in 2003, Berger said, “I don’t think it’s fair to say that.”
A week before the factory notification, EAW reported “massive sales” in Europe of its premium compact line array system, the KF730. Year-to-date sales alone have topped the $2 million mark with further significant sales scheduled before the end of the year.