Panasonic Commits to Custom LED Manufacturing With New Texas Facility
First big project for the Engineering and Fabrication Center is 4K videoboard for Sacramento Kings’ Golden 1 Center
Panasonic Enterprise Solutions made headlines a couple of months ago with the announcement of the NBA’s first-ever 4K/UHD center-hung videoboard. The ambitious project, part of the Sacramento Kings’ new Golden 1 Center, is slated to debut in October; in the meantime, Panasonic must transform idea into reality.
To create this massive structure, which will feature the largest screens in the league and total more than 6,100 sq. ft., Panasonic recently opened an Engineering and Fabrication Center in Coppell, TX. The facility will be responsible for fabrication of the company’s custom LED video displays for professional sports and entertainment venues, beginning with the Kings’.
“There are 18 different types of videoboards going in that [facility],” says Don Szczepaniak, EVP, AV solutions, Panasonic Enterprise Solutions. “We’ve got marquees outside of the facility when you’re walking up. It’s a real signature project for us: it’s not just a center-hung in a basketball arena, but it’s the whole complex, the whole entertainment facility outside as well.”
Panasonic currently has six to eight projects in the works at the facility, ranging in scope from the Kings, Atlanta Braves, and Dallas Cowboys to LED billboard projects to a Double-A minor-league team called the Hartford Yard Goats. Between 40 and 45 people now work in the new Coppell facility in a wide range of capacities, including operations, sales, engineering, design, and project management.
The first step to building the new facility was taken in early 2015, when Panasonic acquired TS Sports, a Dallas-based videoboard-systems integrator specializing in LED-display technology. Prior to the acquisition, Panasonic outsourced the engineering, design, and installation of its LED projects. With the acquisition, that experience was brought in-house and called for a space in which the two companies could join forces to create large LED displays.
TS Sports’ previous facility, located about 5 miles from the new plant, occupies about 30,000 sq. ft. The new Coppell facility is more than six times that, with all-new equipment, ample office space, and plenty of power to test displays before they are installed in the field.
“With the new building and the joining of the two forces, as well as many new hires that we’ve made, we design it, we engineer it, we fabricate it, we oversee the installation of it. We service it all underneath our umbrella and our people,” says Szczepaniak. “And so we’re much more efficient at being able to control the quality, the cost, the timing of what we’re doing, so that we’re bringing projects in on time and in budget.”
Gary Waldrum, who founded TS Sports and served as CEO prior to the acquisition and now works as SVP, construction service, production and fabrication, Panasonic Enterprise Solutions, reflected on the merger. “It really gives us the opportunity to be able to manufacture things on a larger scale as well as being able to test them before they go out in the field,” he says. “We brought in extra electricity and the power to be able to put things up before they go out, [which] saves us a lot of time and a lot of headaches [and] a lot more equipment, [allowing] us to be able to design, engineer, and structure things so that [they’re] manufactured and installed in a much more efficient way. The facility here is a real testament to what Panasonic’s commitment is to this industry.”