Customization is the Key to Competitiveness

US Manufacturers Can Compete with Overseas Manufacturers Through Customization

We proudly founded our lighting company, Noribachi, and grew it to be a $40M lighting manufacturer, proudly made in the US.  Noribachi made LED lighting for industrial and commercial applications: parking lots, parking garages, cold storage facilities, basketball courts, that kind of thing.

When we offered the first true 1000-Watt replacement light bulb in 2010, we were far ahead of the competition. Pre-LED, incandescent lights and fluorescent lights were overwhelmingly made overseas. But the new tech: LEDs, changed the competitive landscape and we were able to quickly establish our offering and compete successfully against behemoths like Philips and Acuity. (Early foreign LED bulbs used LEDs that were distinctly purple, since the expensive and spec-destroying yellow phosphor coating that was widely used was too thin to render the light white. And overseas is all about cheap. We didn’t know any better, bought white LEDs and were quite successful). From 2010 – 2014 we successfully competed with better quality, availability and price.

As prices for high brightness white LEDs started to go down (what cost us $3.50 in 2010 went to $1.15 in 2014). Overseas competitors were now picking these up as well. But we could still compete because we were in the US – and US customers could get our stuff without the 3+ week lead-time to ship it in. From 20014 – 2016 we successfully competed better quality and availability.

Then – never underestimate the power of a 100+ year old distribution channel – channels got stuffed and products came to be inventoried in the US. It was more difficult to compete on availability. It was only quality. We were selling a commodity product; quality was not a sales driver. The spec was the spec. In 2016 it was hard to compete with only better quality. We needed to distinguish ourselves.

So we ramped up our customizations. Want a pink parking lot light? We could do that! Want a particular color temperature or a custom distribution pattern? We could do that too! We became 100% engineer-to-order. Any light color, any CRI, any number of lumens in over 100 fixture types. And we could ship within a week.

Our flexibility with fast, customized solutions allowed us to successfully compete with much cheaper overseas manufacturers.

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