Grand Haven-based GHSP Inc. is a global manufacturer “rooted into the West Michigan area,” according to Chief Technology Officer Marc Smeyers. In the past, GHSP was known for auto technology that combined electronics and mechanical engineering. Now, the company — a division of JSJ Corp. — is working across multiple industries for smart technology applications. At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, GHSP introduced a future concept vehicle, products that use ultraviolet C (UVC) light to disinfect themselves, and a kitchen backsplash that’s an edge-to-edge touchscreen. Smeyers spoke to MiBiz about crossover technology in an increasingly fast-paced environment.
Why is it important for auto suppliers to go to a tech show?
The whole industry is continuing to be transformed. If we think about the changes that happened 100 years ago, from going from a horse and buggy to the automobile, we’re right on the verge and brink of that same change today. We’re going from vehicles that are having internal combustion engines to fully electrified, as well as vehicles that we have to drive and be the driver into being autonomous. As it relates to that transformation, it’s important to be able to connect with the end consumers, as well as making connections with other companies and helping to integrate technologies together. That’s something that GHSP does very well in working with others.
Why is that important?
We’re able to not only have our own technologies, but as demonstrated with working with UV Angel (a technology that disinfects frequently touched surfaces using UV light), it’s taking technologies together and having a seamless integration so that it provides a better experience for the end customer.
It sounds like the UV disinfection technology is something that GHSP is starting to use across the board — in medical, auto and maybe eventually kitchen appliances. Are you looking into more technology that has the potential for use across industries?
Absolutely. I think as it relates to any core technology, whether we at GHSP are developing it or with the partnerships that we are making, we are absolutely looking broader into the different market spaces of how we can apply that. For the UVC technology, we are looking to not only how UV Angel has used that in medical, we’re working with them in appliance as well as the automotive space. But there are even other areas that will generate and benefit our health and wellness overall. We’re looking at that, not only for the UVC technology, but any technology that we are developing internally.
How does what you’re producing now compare to five or 10 years ago?
My background has been primarily automotive for over 20 years. … In the last five years, it’s seen some of the biggest changes, whether it be on the interior of the vehicle or what’s actually powering the vehicle as well. The rate of change today is the fastest I’ve seen in even the last 20 years. Being at these type of shows helps to make those connections that allow us as a company to move even faster because for us to try to do it on our own, we wouldn’t be able to do it fast enough. That’s why partnerships and connections made at these type of shows help.
As the industry is changing so quickly and all this new technology is developed, how can you help people wrap their minds around the potential that it could have in their homes or businesses?
I think being at CES is exactly a way to help bring awareness around the technology and the benefits and value that it brings. We always make sure GHSP provides technology and products that are simple and intuitive to use, but at the same time, we’re thinking about how this technology can be used in a different way. Trade shows such as CES help with that. Whether it be through the media networks, or through the work that we’re doing with a lot of our direct customers — because we’re a B2B business — we can actually show them, through demonstrations that we have on the show floor, how it works and why and what the value is overall.
How quickly do you expect the products shown at CES to be in consumers’ hands?
A lot of that comes back to GHSP working with our customers because they’re the ones who are retailing it out to the end customers. The technology is ready today to be integrated into everything that we’re demonstrating at the show. It really comes back to the product life cycles that our customers have. For appliance, some of these technologies absolutely could be brought to market in the coming year. For automotive, sometimes it takes a couple of years longer. That’s why we’re at the show, to be able to always make sure we’ve got the forefront of the technology to demonstrate and show not only to the end consumers but also our customers as well as the OEMs.
Interview conducted and condensed by Jessica Young.