Knowles inaugurates Lapu facility

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

FROM 97 employees in 2012, micro acoustics and human interface solutions company Knowles Electronics Philippines ended 2013 with 507 workers. They hope to fill 3,400 positions before the year ends.

Knowles officials made the announcement yesterday, as they inaugurated their 22,000 square meter facility at the Cebu Light Industrial Park (Clip).

Knowles Electronics Corp. spent $28 million to build the two-story facility and vice president for operations Dan Giesecke assured that they have spent for training and will continue to do so. Some 70 operators and engineers were already sent to China to see how things were done.


Business units

The Cebu facility, their first in the country, will serve two of the company’s business units–sound solutions and specialty components.

Knowles Philippines managing director Joseph Emmauel Liwag said that as their industry grows, there will be more jobs available from the company. Knowles provides speakers, receivers and microphones for smartphones, tablets, notebooks and hearing aids.

Knowles began scouting for their next location in 2011, visiting countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Manila. However, vice president for human resources and administration Ray Cabrera said they eventually chose Cebu because of its highly educated and stable workforce, friendly business environment and socio-political stability.

Giesecke admitted they faced challenges in completing the facility and were late in their targeted schedule. However, they completed the project within the budget.

He added that they have received a warm welcome since they began their exploratory trip, which is encouraging for investors. “I understand now why the locators here have stayed for decades,” he told those present.

Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General Lilia de Lima, who attended the inauguration, expressed her delight in Knowles’ decision to set up a manufacturing plant in Cebu. “I know you have many options but you wisely decided to put it here in the Philippines. Rest assured that our government, both national and local, and the operators of this economic zone, will see to it that the project will do well,” she
said in her message.

As the facility expects to employ 4,000 workers, de Lima assured them that they “will never run out” of workers to hire because their location has the competitive edge of English-speaking and hardworking labor.

With an electronics giant like Knowles operating in the country, de Lima said this encourages other companies to consider the Philippines as an investment destination, especially now that the top ratings agencies have classified the Philippines as investment grade.

Convince others

Though President Benigno Aquino III could not make it to the inauguration, he sent his own message through de Lima.

In his message, the President said the investment of the company will spur greater
development in the national and local economy.

He also believes Knowles’ presence here will “convince” other companies to follow suit.

He added that the company’s confidence in the country validates his administration’s efforts to institutionalize good governance. He cited the country’s improvements in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, the IFC’s Ease of Doing Business and the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom.

Right choice

He also said that the opening of the new facility is a “source of hope” for Cebu, which was hit by an earthquake and typhoon in the last quarter.

For her part, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, said Knowles is just one of many big names that have chosen Lapu-Lapu City to put up their projects. She said the company’s presence in the city will boost their economy. She assured them of her continued support and her gratitude for choosing to locate in Lapu-Lapu.

“You made the right choice in making Lapu-Lapu City your first home in the Philippines,” she said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 24, 2014.


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