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Samsung expanding into SCV

Electronics giant opens research and development lab in Valencia

Posted: April 7, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 7, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Audio engineers From left, Glenn Kubota, Colby Buddelmeyer, Allan Devantier, An Nguyern, Johnny Ventura, and Bill Decanio discuss the blue prints of the 3,000 feet of office space in Samsung's facility in Valencia. Signal photo by Dan Watson.

Samsung, one of the world’s leading electronics companies, has selected Santa Clarita to open its new research and development lab, setting its sights on becoming an audio systems powerhouse.

“The basic charter is that Samsung wants to become the No. 1 audio in the world,” said Allan Devantier, director of the U.S. audio lab for Samsung. “We’re building a research team in the United States as part of that goal.”

Samsung, however, didn’t originally have Santa Clarita on its radar, Devantier said.

When Devantier — formerly with Harman International and whom Samsung scouted — was hired by executives in Korea, they initially wanted to set up an audio lab in San Jose.

But Devantier, who is a 20-year resident of Santa Clarita, pointed out that the top audio engineers are located in Los Angeles because of the music recording industry.

The executives from Korea agreed with Devantier’s assessment and gave him the green light to set up shop in Southern California.

Within a few months, Samsung found an 8,500-square-foot building for its audio lab at 27931 Smyth Drive in Valencia.

“The development budget for the lab is measured in the millions,” Devantier said. “Unequivocally, this will be the best loudspeaker and sound system R&D center in the world.”

With the large investment Samsung is making to build its audio R&D test lab, Samsung commercial Realtor Sam Glendon, associate broker with CBRE, introduced Devantier to the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation.

The economic organization met with Samsung early on to see what help it could lend.

“The SCVEDC is helping us to get set up here,” Devantier said.

“It’s great to have another name-brand company establish their home in Santa Clarita,” said Holly Schroeder with the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation.

While the Santa Clarita Valley is home to many companies, many are business-to-business-related firms, she said.

“It’s nice to have companies that are recognizable to the general public,” Schroeder said.

As for staffing the R&D lab, Devantier has already recruited some people. Positions are primarily for engineers and research scientists.

He currently has two employees with PhDs and two with master’s degrees, he said. All positions are high-paying ones.

“Everyone here is making well over six figures,” Devantier said.

The staff numbers seven now, he said, but he anticipates Samsung having about 18 employees by 2016.

Samsung wants to dominate the market. Today’s audio systems need to connect to TV, phones, whole-house wireless audio and home theater sound systems, Devantier said.

“We’re looking to expand and dominate the audio market,” Devantier said. “Our goal is to sound good and be easy to use.”

Samsung’s intention might be measured by the speed at which it has moved to achieve its goal.

Devantier himself was only hired in October 2013. By Jan. 6, 2014, a new building had been secured and a small team had moved in.

The engineers have been working off folding tables while the tenant improvements are being handled. And they don’t expect furniture until May.

Currently, all contact is made by cell phone.

When all is finalized, Samsung plans to stage two press events, one an international event for consumer and electronic media that will invite dozens of writers from around the world to a grand opening, Devantier said.


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