Archive for July, 2012

San Diego Region Prepares for Increased “Reshoring” Opportunities

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

On June 25, 2012, the South County Economic Development Council released the “San Diego Regional Manufacturing Sector Report,” funded by a grant from the San Diego Workforce Partnership.  The purpose of the report was to identify challenges and opportunities for local manufacturers in order to provide the necessary resources as a region and recommend actions “to capture previously lost manufacturing opportunities that had gone overseas.”

Manufacturing is returning to the United States because “overseas production has become increasingly more costly due to high transportation costs, expensive reverse logistics to correct product defects, and increasing labor costs.”   The report states “San Diego County is poised to reap the benefits of the return of manufacturing to America.  Just-in-time, product oversight, and cost efficiencies are bringing manufacturers back to the U.S.  There is a unique advantage for manufacturers with San Diego’s prime location along the international border and on the Pacific Rim. This allows for easy shipping of products and co-producing products with Mexico.”

To prepare for the influx of manufacturing opportunities, South County Economic Development Council (SCEDC) and its partners surveyed 283 manufacturers between October 2011 and June 2012 about conducting business in the San Diego region. The survey included questions on business history, growth projections, employment level, business challenges, labor climate, business location, markets, products, and capabilities. The report summarizes and analyzes data gathered from those interviews.

The U. S. as a whole lost 5.7 million manufacturing jobs from 2000 – 2010, and the San Diego region went from 128,738 down to 90,205 in the same period for a loss of 33,533 jobs…  California lost over a half a million in the same period.  Job creation and new hires during this period slowed considerably resulting in a seriously slowing manufacturing industry in San Diego County.   The results of the survey for level of employment were mixed ? 36% had fewer employees than in 2002 and 32% had more employees.  However, 50% indicted that a reduction in employees had occurred within the last 12 months showing that the recovery from the recession is fragile.  On the plus side, 54% have hired in the past year, 26% are currently hiring, and 36% plan to hire in the next 12 months.

The survey reveals that a large percentage of San Diego’s manufacturers specialize in prototype development, low-volume production, and just-in-time delivery. “Moreover, many of the products that are made in the San Diego region offer the customer better oversight and more opportunities for collaborative approaches to product development. This makes “near shoring” a viable option (as opposed to ‘off shoring.’)” More than one-third of the manufacturers surveyed stated that customers have brought product manufacturing back from Asia.

The vast majority of manufacturers indicated they were pleased with their current location. Of the 283 companies surveyed, 238 business owners indicated they are pleased with their location. They cited a historical presence, family ties, customers and suppliers located nearby and quality of life as the reasons they liked their location. When asked about their location challenges, the top four were:

  • Government regulations ? Manufacturers felt they were overburdened by regulations: overlapping and complex regulations, employment laws, including cost of workers’ compensation insurance, burdensome hiring laws,  numerous regulations governing employees, stringent compliance requirements, and the multiplicity of agencies was cited as putting them at a disadvantage.
  • Taxes ? compared unfavorably with taxes in other states, with adjacent states having a more business “friendly” tax structure.
  • Environmental issues ? “environmental regulations “getting stricter.” They also noted “the State of California had more stringent guidelines than the federal government and most other states. This puts companies at a competitive disadvantage.”
  • Utility cost and availability ? “especially concerned about electricity costs, noting that manufacturers use a large amount of energy to produce a product.”

In an effort to determine the commitment manufacturers have made to their existing locations, companies were asked if they owned or leased the facility.  When a company owns a building, they have made a long-term commitment to that location, and it is not easy for them to relocate. When a company leases a site, it is easier for them to relocate.  Companies that have month to month leases or rent are at the greatest risk of relocation. Ninety-eight companies (35%) indicated they owned their existing site, and 120 companies or 42% had long-term leases.

However, there is cause for concern because “many manufacturers indicated they were located in the San Diego region because their suppliers or customers were located here…Fifty-five percent of the manufacturers indicated their customers and/or suppliers have relocated within the past three years.”

Manufacturing companies are being courted by other states to relocate with attractive incentives to do so.  The survey revealed that “Almost 75% of the manufacturers surveyed were unaware of various assistance programs available to them…Seventy-six percent of the respondents indicated they had not worked with college or job training programs…Only sixteen percent of those surveyed said they had forged a business relationship with local educational institutions…Nine percent of the businesses indicated they had participated in a State job training program.”

Several manufacturers said there was a shortage of qualified CNC machinists and they had to recruit from all over the region.  The need for classes at both the high school and college level was cited as a necessity to grow these types of workers.  More efforts toward preparing the future manufacturing workforce are required. Manufacturers expressed difficulty in finding qualified employees noting many of the training programs have been downsized or no longer exist due to budget cuts.  There is a need to retrain current employees and offer additional training classes related to computerized manufacturing equipment.

Additionally, manufacturers were not aware of finance, tax credit and permit assistance programs being offered.  Only 20% were aware of small business finance and business assistance programs, and less than 20% were aware of various tax credit programs, permit assistance and employment assistance programs.

To ensure San Diego can maximize the opportunities provided by manufacturing returning to the U. S., the report found that “there is a need to link the innovation companies with local manufacturing…to capture the “lab to shelf” full chain of product within our region. To accomplish this, there needs to be a better connection between the innovation companies and the manufacturers. There also needs to be a better way to link local manufacturers with each other as well as link companies to local suppliers.”

An efficient way of connecting companies is through the database, which is an online resource containing detailed capabilities and profiles of manufacturers and supply chain companies.  San Diego County currently has over 5,000 company profiles on  Profiles make it easier to understand the capabilities of the manufacturing supply chain and find core capabilities and capacities that are needed for the large amount of contracts and subcontracts available in San Diego County.

According to the report, the San Diego Military Advisory Council states that the manufacturing industry is the largest business sector that provides goods and services to the military in San Diego County.  The total economic impact of output for manufacturing is $7.2 billion. Manufacturing related expenditures totaled $4.8 billion or forty-five percent of all procurement for the military industry in FY2009.

Therefore, the looming potential threat to San Diego’s manufacturing industry is “sequestration, the legislatively mandated, across the board 10 percent cut in Department of Defense budgets on January 2, 2013 (if Congress does not act to make other deficit reduction decisions).” Over 1,700 companies reported military and government contracts so “an orchestrated approach to future defense downsizing and its impact on the manufacturing sector is needed.”

The report provides numerous recommendations ? a few of the most important are:

Change State Tax ? Amend the State Tax and Revenue Code to allow cities to rebate their portion of the property and sales tax for business transactions that occur locally. The authority to rebate the local jurisdictions portions of the taxes could be held at the local level. Local cities and counties could be empowered to choose to rebate their portion of a specific tax and use this as an incentive to encourage companies to create new jobs through company expansion and location within their respective areas.

Holiday on New Regulations ? take a one-year moratorium on regulations impacting the manufacturing industry while information and education is provided to manufacturing business owners about forth-coming regulations.

Streamline and Reduce Existing Regulations ? Combine regulation requirements from the various local, state and federal agencies to avoid confusion by the business owner.  It is recommended that the state and local agencies work together to consolidate the number of required inspections and approvals, especially fire department, air pollution control district, and environmental health compliance inspections.

Cohesive Proactive Communication with Manufacturers ? Governing bodies should prepare industrial businesses to comply more efficiently and cost-effectively with forthcoming regulations, well in advance of the enforcement period. Local government should provide more communication and work with local business owners through a series of educational awareness campaigns prior to enacting new laws or regulations. An active and open discussion prior to making changes will allow industrial businesses to plan and ensure that they are part of the implemented solutions.

Made in the San Diego Region Campaign ? Spread the word and provide the information to consumers on the diverse manufacturing base to assist them in making choices that support the local economy.  Initiate a “Made in the San Diego Region” campaign that includes some type of identification on the product that will increase the awareness around the world of what is made in the San Diego Region. ? All government and non-profit entities should encourage the manufacturers to use the The government entities should provide resources to link and publicize the linking businesses to each other and to provide information about the industrial and technology base of the economy.

Prepare for Sequestration ? In the San Diego region, one-third of all companies reported some dependency on the defense industry.  San Diego’s residents are unaware of this impending crisis, believing that we are protected from sequestration by the nation’s increased focus on Asian-Pacific Defense posture. We recommend the region engage in a pointed, targeted, and unvarnished reporting of the potential negative impacts of sequestration.

The report concludes that the “San Diego region has one of the largest economies in the world, resilient in its diversity and blessed with multiple sources of incoming investment…the San Diego region has a very good opportunity to flourish, but it lacks the acknowledgement from local government and the appreciation of the overall population, of the risks it faces, and the rewards its success can offer.”

Four of the above recommendations have been made as a result of previous manufacturing industry reports, conferences, summits, and task forces of which I was a part, but there has been no action on the part of California’s legislature or regional and local governing bodies.  Until we change the complexion of the State legislature to one friendlier to employers, it is unlikely that we will see any action on these statewide issues.

We need to foster a business environment that is conducive to the manufacturing sector in both San Diego as a region and California as a whole. This would necessitate bringing manufacturers into discussions about regulations, taxes, and government purchasing.  Manufacturing today requires highly skilled workers proficient in a wide range of advanced technologies.  More preparation of the workforce is necessary to meet the anticipated increase in demand for manufacturing through training and retraining.  Providing training opportunities to address the skill gap of existing workers would go a long way to enabling growth of the manufacturing sector.

The report states that regional leadership is the key to help the manufacturing industry thrive in the San Diego region. I agree, but leadership is also the key to restoring California as the “golden state of opportunity” for manufacturers and all other businesses.

The SCEDC study concludes that the manufacturing sector lacks the necessary resources to conduct business successfully on a large scale.  The wealth of tax credits and business assistance programs are not as widely used as expected, further emphasizing the need for leadership and an expansive educational campaign.  This report is meant to spark discussion and action to enable San Diego to grow its existing manufacturing industry. As a follow up to the report, the South County EDC is planning an Economic Summit on Friday, September 21, 2012.

We also need to spark discussion and action on a state level.  To this end, the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) is facilitating an economic summit on October 11, 2012, entitled, “Manufacturing in the Golden State ? Making California Thrive,” co-hosted by California State Senator Mark Wyland and Assembly member Toni Atkins.  As the newly appointed State Chair for CPA, you may contact me to become involved at or Sara Haimowitz at


Will Countervailing and Anti-Dumping Duties Help or Hurt America’s Solar Industry?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

The answer to this question depends on what role you play in America’s solar industry ? manufacturer, distributor, or retail installer ? and what China will do in retaliation.

In May 2012,, a program of non-profit organization The Kearny Alliance, released a well-researched and well-documented report titled “China’s Solar Industry and the U. S. Anti-Dumping/Anti-Subsidy Trade Case. The purpose of the report is to “present a balanced, fact-based discussion of the trade case; an exploration of how China’s solar industry has grown so big so fast; and a thorough analysis of what might be the consequences – many of them likely unintended – of likely outcomes of this trade case” to encourage readers to look at the issue from new angles.

As background to the case, the report presents these facts about the global solar industry:

  • On-grid installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems grew an average of 45 percent per year on average between 2003 and 2009, driven mainly by government policies in Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, and the U.S. “These policies are designed, in one way or another, to subsidize the cost of solar power so that it is competitive with other on-grid electricity sources.”
  • Global production of solar PV systems rose dramatically in the last decade – from 371 megawatts in 2001 to more than 24 gigawatts in 2010, an increase of 6,376 percent.
  • The price of solar cells and modules started declining rapidly beginning in 2008 from about $3.30 per watt in 2008 to about $1.80 per watt at the beginning of 2011 and $1.00 per watt at the end of 2011. The price is projected to fall to $0.74 per watt by 2014.

During this time period, China’s growth in solar manufacturing was rapid. “In 2001 China produced 1 percent of the world’s solar cells and modules. By 2010 it produced nearly half. Today, four of the top 5 solar cell producers are Chinese; three of the five module producers are. Of the top fifteen solar cell manufacturers in 2010, six were Chinese companies. Two were American. Of the fifteen solar module manufacturers in 2010, eight were Chinese. One was American.”

Estimates of the cost advantage of Chinese cell and module manufacturers compared to their U.S. counterparts range from about 18 percent to 30 percent, but GTM Research analyst, Shyam Mehta, estimates the cost differential to be about 25 to 30 percent in 2012.

As a result of this loss in market share by American companies, in October 2011 an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy trade case was filed by SolarWorld Industries America, the U.S. division of German manufacturer SolarWorld AG, and six other U. S.-based solar manufacturers with the U. S. International Trade Commission and Department of Commerce to seek relief for U. S. producers injured by Chinese imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) products.

The report says “the stakes are high. For one thing, countervailing (anti-subsidy) duties, if high enough, could dramatically affect the solar industry in the U.S. and around the world, as could anti-dumping tariffs. There are potentially severe unintended consequences of any policy action in this case – or inaction, for that matter.”

On March 20, 2012, U.S. Department of Commerce announced its preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (anti-subsidy) investigation. Chinese companies received preliminary countervailing duties ranging from a high of 4.73 percent for Trina Solar down to 2.90 percent for Suntech Power, with all other Chinese producers at 3.61 percent.

The report states that “Chinese reaction to the preliminary countervailing duties was relatively mild. Two Chinese trade groups asked the China Ministry of Commerce (MOC) to start an investigation against U.S. into dumping and illegal subsidies. However, the Chinese reaction to the May 17th preliminary anti-dumping determination, in which the Department of Commerce found that Chinese manufacturers dumped solar cells on the U. S. market and assessed tariffs of about 31 percent, was very different.

The report states that the reactions to this case could have significant ramifications for the global solar industry and presents several potential reactions by China.

  • China could remove its subsidies and stop dumping – the precedent for this is that when the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) launched an investigation into export restraints, subsidies, and discrimination against foreign companies for imported goods by China in green technologies in October 2010, the pressure from the petition led China to remove local content requirements for wind technology.
  • Chinese manufacturers could retaliate in a number of ways against the imposed tariff, which is “why only three of the seven companies behind the petition have named themselves publicly (and two of those only after the preliminary countervailing duties were announced).”
  • Chinese manufacturers could ramp up their own production of polysilicon (which they have already begun doing) and turn to Germany and Switzerland to fill the equipment gap – effectively cutting out the U.S. firms that are still competitive in the solar supply chain.
  • Chinese firms could move cell manufacturing to Taiwan, which the authors of the report feel “could be their best solution because it would allow Chinese manufacturers to keep their upstream supply chains intact…Then, they could assemble the modules anywhere in the world ? in Taiwan, in China, in Mexico, or in the end-use country.”

According to Melanie Hart, Policy Analyst for Chinese Energy and Climate Policy at the Center for American Progress, “Retaliation can also spread beyond the actual petitioners to harm the U.S. economy more broadly.” China could block market access for U.S.-based firms in other cleantech industries.

Tom Zarrella, a former chief executive of GT Solar, a New Hampshire supplier of solar manufacturing equipment, said, “It would be a travesty for the solar industry.” The U.S. is still an important supplier of polysilicon, as well as CSPV manufacturing equipment.

In addition, Chinese solar manufacturers could ramp up production in the U.S. similar to how trade cases against Japanese automakers in the 1970s and 1980s pushed Japanese companies into building factories in the U.S. “Chinese solar manufacturer Canadian Solar already said that would be one possible response to countervailing duties and anti-dumping duties in this case too.”

However, this would not be a way for Chinese manufacturers to circumvent tariffs because the trade case applies to Chinese-made cells as well as modules comprised of Chinese-made cells, no matter where those modules are assembled. To avoid the tariffs, Chinese manufacturers would have to locate not just module assembly plants but cell production facilities in the United States as well.

The trade case “will only accelerate the setting up of solar module and solar cell manu-facturing in the United States,” said the president of Grape Solar, a company based in Eugene, Ore., that is a big importer of solar panels from China, Korea and Taiwan, as quoted in the New York Times. Grape Solar has already been in discussions with big Chinese panel makers on ways to move more manufacturing to the United States.”

The report states that around 100,000 Americans are employed in the solar industry in the U.S with about 24,000 manufacturing, including manufacturers of equipment and polysilicon producers. About 50 percent work in installation, construction, and engineering; another 18 percent in sales and distribution. Of the 24,000 people who work in solar manufacturing in the U.S., just about 5,000 manufacture cells or modules that compete with those made in China (and are the subject of the trade case).

Adam Hersh, Economist at the Center for American Progress, argued that if Chinese producers have an unfair advantage, it will undermine the world’s transition to renewable energy as a source of power. “If the producers are being given unfair advantages in China it’s going to undermine innovation in the sector of renewable energy infrastructure and will set back the pace of our transition to using sources of renewable energy. That’s why it’s so important to have a level playing field in this…There are some who argue that we should let in these subsidized, dumped products from China because it makes it cheaper to install and build out renewable energy here in the U.S. But that is a very shortsighted view of the dynamics of the industry. We need to have the innovation competition which will allow us to scale up and produce the most efficient and next generation of solar and other renewable energy sources going forward.”

The main petitioner in the trade case is SolarWorld Industries America, the U. S. division of a German company. SolarWorld operates factories in the United States and Germany and has been the largest U.S. solar panel manufacturer for more than 35 years. SolarWorld is the only vertically integrated company left in the U. S., meaning that it combines all stages of the photovoltaic value chain, from the raw material silicon to turn-key solar power plants. SolarWorld has its U.S. headquarters in Hillsboro, Ore. and a second plant located in Camarillo, Calif.

The other top American company is First Solar that “manufactures thin-film cells and modules (not crystalline silicon photovoltaics) and held the top spot among solar cell and module manufacturers in 2009. It is still the world’s largest producer of thin-film solar modules, accounting for more than 40 percent of world output. First Solar is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, but the “lion’s share” (68 percent in 2010) of its output is produced in Malaysia.”

The main target of the anti-subsidy and anti-dumping trade case is Chinese company, Suntech Power, which was the world’s biggest producer of solar cells and solar modules in 2010. The company was founded in 2001 by Dr. Shi Zhengrong, who had been a research director of Pacific Solar Pty., Ltd., an Australian PV company. Suntech built its first manufacturing plant in the U.S. in Goodyear, Arizona in 2010, making it the first Chinese cleantech company to set up a manufacturing facility in the U.S. The 50 MW module assembly plant enables Suntech to label solar modules assembled there as “made in U.S.A.” As a result, Suntech now qualifies for federal “Buy American” subsidies.

Andrew Beebe, Chief Commercial Officer at Suntech, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal stating, “the fact that 95 percent of U.S. solar-related jobs are outside of cell or module manufacturing, is the reason why “many large and small U.S. solar industry leaders – including AES Solar, Dow Corning, Grape Solar, GroSolar, GT Advanced Technologies, MEMC/SunEdison, REC Silicon, Rosendin Electric, SolarCity, Swinerton and Verengo Solar – have banded together in the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy to oppose tariffs and defend free trade. They not only represent American consumers; they represent thousands of American manufacturing jobs and 95% of all American solar-industry jobs.”

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) states that punitive tariffs against Chinese cell imports could affect solar PV sellers, distributors, and installers and the 76,000 Americans they employ in a number of ways. The imposition of tariffs could cause costs to increase and cause demand for solar products to decline, which would result in an associated reduction in American jobs in areas like installation, construction, engineering, sales, and distribution.

This report makes clear that “China’s solar cell and module manufacturers are highly competitive for many more reasons than having received subsidies on the order of 3-5 percent. Chinese manufacturers will still have the scale, the vertical integration, the discounted materials and equipment, and the low labor costs that allow them to sell cells for significantly less than their American competitors…And they will still have the significant support of the Chinese government’s industrial policy.”

The report then considers actions the U.S. or U.S. manufacturers could take that would help improve their competitiveness in the global solar industry. According to Shyam Mehta, Senior Analyst at GTM Research, Western and Japanese crystalline silicon manufacturers will never beat China at the CSPV game because China has such lower costs. He said that the future lies in either differentiated technology or a new business model. They must either:

  • Commercialize a revolutionary technology at high scale that lowers the PV cost curve. China has had no success developing non-crystalline silicon PV technology. Elsewhere, there is only one notable semi-success, and that is First Solar thin-film technology; or
  • Find a different business model. For example, First Solar and SunPower build and operate solar farms, and have done so successfully in the U.S. The advantage of building and operating solar power plants is that then the company has a dedicated sales channel that insulates its profit margins against China’s low-cost panels.

Others suggest that the U.S. develop an industrial policy and develop U.S. incentives to level the playing field. At present, the scale of Chinese incentives dwarf U.S. efforts. Access to capital is a critical compliment to the United States’ capacity to innovate.” To that end, the SEMI PV Group recommends:

  • Large, long-term, stable, market-side support policies, including a national Renewable Clean Energy Standard (RES), state Renewable Portfolio Standards, buyer incentive programs, and sales and property tax credits;
  • Maintain the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) through 2016;
  • Extend the Section 1603 Treasury Grant Program that has provided a grant in lieu of the advanced energy investment tax credit (ITC);
  • Increase Department of Energy funding for both R&D and manufacturing infrastructure development of the U.S. solar industry;
  • Establish the R&D tax credit on a long-term basis to assure solar manufacturers greater consistency in tax and investment planning;
  • Revive the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit (MTC), and creation of a federal Green Bank to supplement PV and other green energy projects, particularly for manufacturing; and
  • Work with foreign counterparts and the WTO to develop a strong, effective and enforceable rules-based international trading system that promotes free and open trade.

“We need to make sure we are investing in the foundations of innovation here in the United States to give our companies the policy environment they need to remain competitive against a rising China…we have to make sure that we do not cede critical American jobs to the Chinese – in solar manufacturing as in other U.S. industries – just because we were lax on the policy side,” argues Melanie Hart, Policy Analyst for Chinese Energy and Climate Policy at the Center for American Progress.

Speaking at the Conference on the Renaissance of American Manufacturing, Gordon Brinser, President of SolarWorld Industries America, said that the U.S. must respond more quickly when there is evidence that China is violating international or domestic trade laws. Brinser recommended some specific policy improvements:

  1. The administration’s new trade unit should closely monitor import data for early signs of market distortions spurred by foreign governments;
  2. Our trade agencies must look hard at ways to preserve an open, transparent process for trade cases but in fewer steps and less time;
  3. They also must, in conjunction with U.S. Customs, aggressively find ways to anticipate and stop circumvention of trade remedies and theft of intellectual property;
  4. The government should bring legitimate cases for industries that are too small or injured to afford them; and
  5. The government must shed light on foreign companies that raise capital on U.S. exchanges and then withhold audit information from securities regulators.

I believe implementing these recommendations would benefit American manufacturers in all industries. The solar industry has not been the only target of Chinese “dumping.” We must enforce international and domestic trade laws to protect our entire manufacturing industry if we ever want to revive our economy and create more American jobs.

American Inventiveness is Alive and Well in San Diego

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

About 150 inventors, “wannabes”, entrepreneurs, and service providers gathered for the annual San Diego Inventors Forum contest on June 21, 2012, held at the corporate headquarters of Jack in the Box.  The venue was a first for the Inventors Forum, which customarily meets the second Thursday of each month at the law offices of Sheppard Mullin.  Ten contestants were selected out of 15 applicants to present their latest inventions for the audience to pick the top three inventions.  The entrance criteria was made stiffer this year so that an invention had to be either already patented or “patent pending” and have either a working model or be ready for sale to the marketplace.

Tana and Myla Zapf won the first place prize of $1,000 for their “Curly Petz,” a small plush toy that can be worn as a slap-on bracelet. The toys are an extension of their “Slapitz” slap-on bracelet, which won second prize at the contest two years ago. Tana, 13, and Myla, 11, are daughters of inventor Eric Zapf and San Diego City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, who were both in attendance.  For more information on Curly Petz, email Eric Zapf at

Eric Zapf was also among the ten competitors for his invention of Apex Iris Disposal System ? a trash container with a self-opening and closing lid with a circular aperture like an eye’s iris.

Second place went to Raad Khaleel for his Self-Irrigating Container, which collects rainwater and then distributes the collected water to plants for use in drought-prone regions, especially in the Middle East and Africa.  Those interested in the Self-Irrigating Container should send email to

Third place went to Gene McGuinness for his Magic Blade, an all-in-one stainless steel kitchen knife and grater that chops, slices, dices, grates, shaves, and strains.  For more information on the Magic Blade, email McGuinness at

Other inventions presented were:

RollOnRack, invented by Chris Lindsay and Chris Baker ? a new, universal mount, roof-rack system that uses rollers and an automatically expanding load bed to provide simple, safe and secure transportation of oversized cargo (like plywood) that no existing roof-rack can.  The 4X6 cargo rack expands to 4×10, and the rollers on the tailgate simplify and aid in loading large items into the rack.  The roller on the front allows one person to mount the rack on the vehicle.  It is made from lightweight and strong extruded aluminum, and the Universal mounting system attaches to almost any vehicle with factory luggage rails.  Chris Lindsey may be reached at

Capture and Route ?  a Patent Pending device that sends POS Receipts to cell phones and web receipt accounts.  The “Capture and Route” comes in two models with either model simply “added to” the existing system with no changes to the existing POS computer or the existing POS printer.  The first model is a stand-alone device that connects between the output of an existing computer and the input to an existing printer. The second model is a printer interface board that is inserted into the existing printer, replacing the previous printer interface board.

The “Capture and Route” is controlled by a Cell phone or Handheld Device and captures the computer output that would normally be printed on paper and prints this data into the handheld device or cell phone. Once the printer data is in the handheld it can be digitally searched, sorted, categorized, totaled or sent automatically to your home, office, accountant, your website or multiple destinations.   For further information contact Bruce L Hall at

Tinnitus Solution ? a diagnostic test for objectively measuring tinnitus (ringing in the ears) in humans and animals, developed by Michael Kinder, President/CEO of Kinder Scientific Company, LLC.

One Little Drop for Tannin Reduction ? an additive that changes the taste of the wine by removing some of the tannins and therefore reduces the astringency of the wine, reduces the bitterness, and improves the body.  Wine Improvement Inc. has been working with additives to accelerate this process.  Our process is well known in the wine industry and is commonly used to improve the balance of the wine.  This material is added from a dropper bottle as one or two drops stirred into a glass of wine. Although this by-the-glass is a new concept, it uses the same materials that wine makers use. The goal is to get a balanced wine so that the acids and tannins do not dominate the taste; this is called a supple wine.  Also, the drop has additives to reduce bitterness.  Other additives are used to build up the body after removing some of the tannins.  Thus, the Tannin Reduction Product is a complex mixture of materials to make wine more balanced or supple.  Scot Clark, a retired entrepreneur in the semiconductor industry and amateur wine maker, and his daughter, Libby Simon, are the co-founders of Wine Improvement Inc.

JackHawk 9000 ? Titanium bottle-opening sunglasses, invented by a group led by SDSU slums Matt Decelles and Zach Luczynski and Patrick Eckstein, an alum of Cal State San Marcos. The dual-use sunglasses came to be through an informal network called “The Commons Designs Group,” defined as consisting of “a few friends who recently graduated from colleges around California”.  CDG has members from Southern and Northern California.  Although the sunglasses didn’t win the contest, they are already a winner, raising more than their original goal of $16,000 on Kickstarter to enter into production.

Are you ready to turn that idea into a product?  Then, let us help you get it started.  Come and get motivated, hear successful local San Diego inventors speak at the San Diego Inventors Forum and learn how they developed their marketable products.  Come network in a room filled with fellow creative people and get guidance and encouragement to take your first or next steps necessary to turn your ideas into a reality.  At our meetings, you meet our Mentor inventors and professionals in many fields.  You can introduce yourself, ask financing, business, licensing, marketing, legal and engineering questions and present your ideas to private individuals or for focus group review. You get to ask for what you are seeking, and we try to match your needs.

We members of the SDIF steering committee invite all innovators, inventors, engineers, artists and start-up entrepreneurs to attend our monthly meetings, held the second Thursday of the month from 6:30pm to 7pm for networking and 7pm to 8:30pm for the meeting.


Now that the annual contest is over, the 2012-2013 topics schedule begins again.  July’s topic will be “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” – harnessing your creative mind, and August will continue with “IP 101” – when, why and how to search for patents, trademarks and copyrights.   During the course of the year, topics to be covered include marketing, licensing, branding, networking, and funding.  I will be giving my annual presentation in November on “Manufacturing 101” – how to select the right manufacturing processes and sources to make your product.  For further information, the San Diego Inventors Forum can be reached at or by calling forum president Adrian Pelkus at 760-591-9608.


The entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great is still going strong amongst us.  You have an opportunity to make a difference and help make American great again by making products in America.  We welcome you to join us at our next meeting!