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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Bright Future: Growing LED manufacturer relocating to Fort Worth

LED light manufacturing company Kobi Electric is getting too big to fit in its 22,000-square-foot facility in Burleson.

So early next year the company will move to a bigger building – a 45,200-square-foot facility in Fort Worth leased from commercial real estate firm Conti Warehouses. Kobi Electric’s new location will be south of Interstate 20 at 301 E. Risinger Road. Kobi Electric, a subsidiary of the Kobi Group, will occupy 30,000 square feet and the rest will be used by the Kobi Group’s other companies, oil and gas procurement services company Kobi International, ball and gate valve manufacturer Kobi Valves and exotic metal tubing distributor Tubing Central.

Kobi Electric makes commercial and residential LED lighting and sells through distributors such as Sonepar, Crawford Electric and Consolidated Electric Distributors.

Since launching its first models of LED bulbs in 2012, the company hasn’t stopped growing. Now with more than 200 models of LED bulbs in stock, Kobi Electric has more than doubled its number of employees, going from 12 to 25, and is looking to add 10 more when it moves to Fort Worth.

This year’s gross revenue of about $8 million is double what it was last year, said Nick Peragine, vice president of sales and marketing.

According to Kobi Electric’s president, Frank Saade, the company has grown by an average of 150 percent each year.

Part of the reason for growth is that LED lighting has become more affordable in recent years, thanks to factors such as cheaper manufacturing processes and government incentives encouraging consumers to buy more energy-saving products, Saade said.

When Kobi Electric began, for example, the company would sell a 10-watt LED bulb for about $15. Today, that same bulb is about $5, Saade said.

Lower prices and greater customer demand have contributed to Kobi Electric’s growth spurt, and the company doesn’t have plans to slow down. Next year, its target gross revenue is $18 million, Peragine said.

And Fort Worth seemed to be the best place to foster that growth, Saade said.

“We wanted to be in a city that believes and invests in energy efficiency,” he said.

For one thing, Fort Worth’s involvement in energy-saving initiatives such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge made the city an attractive place to relocate, Saade said.

He also credited Fort Worth-based Conti Warehouses for playing a role in the decision to move. Saade said the real estate firm helped make the move a smooth process by accommodating Kobi Electric’s “odd” remodeling plans — such as painting an entire room black for the company’s testing lab — as well as making sure the move happens within the time frame Kobi Electric desired.

“These guys really went way, way out of their way to help us out,” Saade said. “Really, without them, we would have chosen another facility.”

The new facility will have offices, a testing lab and more room to hold inventory. There will also be a 2,000-square-foot showroom where architects and designers can view products.

Saade said he’s excited about Kobi Electric’s move to Fort Worth, since he’s always loved the city and enjoyed “walking around and sampling all the excellent food” downtown.

“I’ve always thought and dreamed about living and doing business in the city,” he said. “This is a dream come true for me, really.”

LED Lighting

Lighting accounts for 15 percent of global energy usage and 5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to research group Frost & Sullivan. As a result, the need to reduce energy consumption is driving the light emitting diode (LED) lighting market.

According to a 2014 report from Boston-based Frost & Sullivan, the world LED lighting markets earned revenues of $9.18 billion in 2012 and this is expected to increase to $36.52 billion in 2017. The residential and outdoor applications, in particular, will witness rapid growth, according to the report.


About the Space

Kobi Electric’s new home, leased from Fort Worth-based commercial real estate firm Conti Warehouses, is in a 45,200-square-foot space in a larger facility totaling about 350,000 square feet. Conti Warehouses acquired the property from Hickman Companies in 2013. At the time, Walls Clothing occupied the building until the clothing company was acquired by Williamson-Dickie. Today, in addition to Kobi, the tenants are MillerCoors, AA Truck Sleeper and Trixie Pet Products.

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