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Konka Plants US Roots In Irvine

Scott Ramirez, senior vice president for the recently formed North America unit of Chinese television giant Konka Group Co., is quickly getting to business from his new outpost in Irvine.

“In April 2019, I came on board with Konka with the goal of starting a new company, a new subsidiary company, Konka North America LLC. We incorporated that company in September of 2019,” said Ramirez, speaking to the Business Journal in Las Vegas earlier this month at the CES technology show.

“Now it’s January 2020, we’re here at CES and we’re introducing all our new 2020 products. So, we’ll be taking orders with retailers. And you should see them in stores by May.”

Shenzhen-based Konka is a digital home entertainment manufacturer and one of the top five TV brands in China, with annual revenue of about $10 billion.

The company’s product line includes digital displays and home appliances, as well as mobile phones.

Looking for Space

Ramirez said at CES the new North America division is currently in temporary offices in the Spectrum area, with the search underway for a permanent home in the area.

The Irvine office is starting with about five to 10 people. The North American operations could grow to 200 people, said the VP for sales and marketing, who came to Konka after working at Toshiba America Information Systems in Irvine.

Ramirez said he’s the “top American” at Konka’s outpost for the U.S. and Canada, and says he doesn’t know whether his own boss will eventually join him in Irvine or stay in China.

While Konka acknowledges the company is “just not known yet in the United States market,” the company’s lavish booth at CES was its first initiative to “get the name out there.”

“This is not risky at all. This is the wave of the future,” Ramirez said of his new adventure. “We’re going to bring our name everywhere around the globe. We are a powerhouse.”

New Series

“We have every type of TV technology that’s available on the market today,” he said. “We believe we’re going to bring this technology, currently commercial, into the U.S. market as a consumer product in just three to five years.”

Among its TV products, “we’re announcing three different series just for the first half of this year,” he said.

He said of the company’s TV quality: “It’s self-illuminating. The brightness is as bright as you could ever want it. The blacks are as black as can be. So, the picture quality is amazing.”

The televisions use “Micro LED” technology, which can already be found in new Konka commercial displays.

The company also demonstrated a wide variety of other technologies at the show including OLED, QLED, 8K, and Quantum Dot. 

While the acronyms can be mystifying, the technology is all designed to improve picture quality.

First to hit the market are three new series of LED TV and QLED TVs, with Konka’s new OLED TV close behind.

For two sample prices: the 32-inch H3 Series-LED TV with Android TV has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $199.99 while the 75-inch Q7 QLED series carries a suggested price of $1,999.99.

17 Million

“We have three factories in China that can make 17 million TVs a year,” Ramierz said, adding that the Trump administration’s tariff policy may change where the final assembly is done.

“We may do final assembly in Mexico,” he said.

As a “prime manufacturer” of equipment, Konka heavily invests in technology.

The Konka strategy will provide more competition to longtime “tier-one brands” Samsung, LG and Sony.

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Kevin Costelloe
Kevin Costelloe
Tech reporter at Orange County Business Journal

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