Archive for August, 2016

TAA has $75K waiting for you

You’ve got to take a risk

The great Hockey star Wayne Gretzky once famously said, “I never scored on a shot I didn’t take” and of course nothing has ever been truer. The greatest hitters in baseball fail over 60% of the time. Golfers who do not go for it, do not take a stab at that impossible shot are never champions and yes in business people who are not willing to try new things will never succeed.

If you own a company and are not willing to get out of your comfort zone you will fail. If you are always willing to stand still you will fail and yes if you always do the same thing over and over again and expect different results then, come on we all know this one, say it with me…you are a perfect example of insanity.
So many times when I work with a company and I suggest they try something new they will either cower in fear or quickly point out that they tried something similar once and it didn’t work so that is that and they will never try it again.
I am amazed and yes frustrated when people bang the table and tell me that they will and I quote, “lose their shirt” if they try to match their competitors’ prices when often they have no good or real idea of what their own costs are to begin with.
I am out and out amused when I try to get a company to offer some kind of financial discount to get a  new company to try their product and they refuse to do it because they are afraid that thousands and thousands of people are going to take advantage of that particular incentive. Look, I have sent out enough sales offers to know that they can relax and rest assured this is not going to happen. Hell, I am pretty sure that someone could offer boards for free and the response would still be the normal ten percent tops that these sales offers bring in.
Here is an absolutely true real life substantiated example of people being afraid to try anything new. There is a government program called TAA or Trade Adjustment Assistance to let you know what it is about read this directly from their web site
Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAA), a federal program, provides financial assistance to manufacturers affected by import competition. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, this cost sharing federal assistance program pays for half the cost of consultants or industry-specific experts for projects that improve a manufacturer’s competitiveness.
This program is completely authentic. I have worked under this program numerous times with numerous companies all over the country. This organization will give any manufacturing company that has been affected by import competition (and which U.S. PCB company has not?!!) up to $75,000 in matching funds to any company that applies. The funds can be used for a number of things from producing a new and improved web site, to help with your sales and marketing effort, to improving technology and yes even helping your company get your AS9100 or 31032 or any other qualification that will help your company be more competitive. And yes this money is free, absolutely free. So if you buy and pay for $150,000 of services to improve your company, TAA will pay for half of it. Like I said earlier I know because I have been directly involved in TAA contracts many times over the years.
And here is something pretty cool, this organization is ready and willing to help with this money. They have even been out trying to find companies to take advantage of this program! Honestly.
Sound too good to be true? Well I beg your pardon, because it is true. Don’t believe me? Then just click over to and find out for yourself.
I’m harping on this because this is one program that works. Whenever someone cries foul about offshore competition…whenever anyone complains that the government is doing nothing to help their company out, I always bring up TAA and suggest they go to the web site find the contact information for their local office and give them call. One of my clients did exactly this and was fully approved in one single day.
But, back to people who won’t take risks, I have obviously told hundreds of companies about this TAA opportunity and only about ten percent even want to bother to look into it. The other ninety percent delight in telling me the fifty reasons why it will not work for them and man, they are so anxious to blurt these reasons out that they don’t even let me finish explain the program before they start listing them.
My friend Bob Tarzwell and I used to have a running joke that with many company owners you could put a check for ten thousand dollars in front of them and rather than picking it up and saying thanks they’d come up with fifty reason why they should not pick that check up. So one day after I had tried to talk and owner, an owner of a company that was in very deep water by the way, about TAA funds and how his company was practically the poster child for this program he promptly told be the fifty reason why it would not work. He refused to even consider it.
That night I called Bob and told him that our running joke wasn’t about a ten thousand dollar check any more…it was about a seventy five thousand dollar check…and I had just seen it happen.
So once again I urge you, get out of your comfort zone, and try something new because if you try enough new things something will work. And as far as TAA is concerned get right overt to their website and get them to work helping you. It’s only common sense.

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Book Recommendation – Creativity and Problem Solving

A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu:

Creativity and Problem Solving

From the Brian Tracy Success Library

By: Brian Tracy

Copyright 2014Amacom

Price $9.95

Pages: 112 with Index

We are all geniuses according to Brian Tracy, with the proper training we can all come up with new and exciting ideas to improve our companies and our lives. In his new small but very powerful and thought provoking book Tracy shows how we can put our minds to work thinking and coming up with new ideas.

In one chapter he writes about the seven sources of innovation and how these sources promote creative thinking: Here are a few examples to whet your appetite:

The Unexpected Event: When something happens a problem or an opportunity that makes us think that much harder, focusing on this new issue to overcome the challenge or take advantage of the opportunity. He demonstrates this by showing us how Peter Omidyar wanting to sell his large Pez candy dispenser collection realized that there was not good auction site he could go to son he created E-Bay.

Process Need: When you need to improve process or technology to overcome an industry challenge, like when Tom Monaghan wanted to know why pizzas could not be delivered in less than thirty minutes and found a unique process change to make it happen.

Demographic Changes: Think of all the news products that are being developed as the baby boomers enter retirement age. This is a perfect example of demographic changes.

Tracy encourages us via 21 short but pertinent chapters to use our minds to solve our problems.

What I like about this book is that you cannot but spend four or five minutes reading it and your mind starts to whir with new insights and ideas. The book is just crammed full of what I would call mind triggers designed to make you think and create. He spends time talking about “Mindstorming Method” how they should be run, how many people should participate and how long is long enough for these to be effective.

There are other chapters on

  • The roots of creativity

  • Developing the qualities of genius

  • Mind developing exercises

And many more. This a great bargain when you think of converting a mere ten bucks into priceless ideas.

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When You Care Enough About Your Customer To Give The Very Best

Walk with the customer. Care about him. Make sure that you know what she needs and give it to her. Make sure that he knows that you care about what will make his life easier and provide it.

Look the hard sell is dead, if it ever was alive in the first place. Now we have to work to gain the customer’s trust. We have to work at making the customer comfortable with us personally, not just our products, but the way we deliver our products, the way we conform our products to the customer’s specific needs.

You have to give the customer what he wants not what you want to give him. Let me ask you, does it make sense to sell pork chops in a synagogue? Does it make sense to sell guns in a mental institution? Does it make sense to sell airplane tickets to a person who is agoraphobic? No of course not, what nonsense to even think of these things. Then why let me ask you, would you want to sell high technology HDI Microvia boards to a garage door opener manufacturer? Or sell single sided boards to a super computer company? That doesn’t make a no sense either does it? But we still do it all the time. Why is that?

I think it’s because we want to see some activity, we are sometimes so desperate for business that we’ll try anything. We just want to do something and so we substitute activity for accomplishment. We feel mistakenly that if we do something, anything, then something will happen. But it won’t, in our hearts we know that it won’t that we are really just wasting time, time that could have been spent more productively selling something that will work, something that we can sell and that the right customers will want.

Ah, that’s the big secret isn’t it? Yes let’s figure out what we do best, what we can do better than anyone else; and then find the customers who want to buy that thing. It is far better to do your homework and target the right companies that could be customers than to just go out there and with your head down fire in any direction that might hit a target.

No, the first thing you have to do is figure out what the target is and then and only then can you hit it.

If you are not having any luck selling to the market you’re selling to then change markets, find the right market for you and sell to that one.

If you’re ads and letters and solicitations are not getting you anywhere, change them. Don’t blame the customers and say that they are stupid and just don’t get it. Change your message so that it will appeal to the right customers.

Look in many cases customers are not logical. In many instances they do no care that you have the best product, the best delivery or the best quality, or the best value. Often what they really care about is what people around them are thinking. In many cases they are surrounded by pressures that have nothing to do with your product and how you present it.

He could be absorbed with office politics. His boss could like one of your competitors and your guy is not willing to go up against him. There could be some internal issues that have nothing to do with you. It could be as simple as location where they simply do not want to buy anything from the east coast or the west coast or wherever you are located. It could be a hundred little things and your job as a sales person is to find out what the obstacles are and figure out if you can overcome them. And you know, sometimes you can’t and that’s all there is to it. But if you can then figure out what that customer needs to change his mind and provide it.

It always bothers me that we try so hard at times to complicate this process. It should not be difficult to figure out. The customer knows what he needs and knows what he wants from you. If you cannot provide her that, then any kinds of sales pitch you try to use will not work.

One of the things I recommend to my clients is that they train their sales people to learn how to listen. The old cliché that you learn more by listening than by talking is solidly true. No matter how great a product you think you have it is worthless to the customer if it does not solve his problem, meet his challenges or make him better by buying it.

Once again this all boils down to just one thing and that is caring about your customer. Caring so much that you put her needs ahead of your need to tell about and sell your product. That’s what’s important. When you walk in to your customer’s office be prepared, ask the right questions and then offer a suitable solution. If you do that, you will make the sale and you will be successful in the long run. The better you listen, the more you will understand what your customer needs and the better your chances are of giving it to him. It’s only common sense

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So Long To The World’s Greatest PCB Design Salesman

Mike Wilson passes away

My great friend and business associate Mike Wilson passed away this week after a short illness. And now the world will be a little less interesting without Mike around. For the twenty five plus years I knew Mike, he was always up to something. Even in the past few years, two or three weeks seldom went by without my phone ringing and there was Mike on the end of the line saying something like, “There’s a guy we have to talk to?” or “What do you think about doing this?” Or something like that. Mike was always working on a plan, or coming up with a plan or setting up a plan and there is nothing he loved more than when a plan came together.

He and I worked together on numerous ventures sometimes we were successful and sometimes not but regardless it was always great fun working with him.

I have to say that I owe him a lot for the many great people he introduced me to over the years. I think there are hundreds of very interesting people or I daresay characters that I would have missed without Mike being my friend

He was also my “Carl Sagan” my patient explainer when it came to anything PCB design related. You see truth be known I’m a right brained English major and a complete fraud when it comes to technology. All I care about is if a company does something better than anyone else and if they have something that I can market and sell otherwise, I can’t be bothered. So when someone would call me up with some kind of new and unusual design tool they wanted me to help sell something that they claimed would be the “next great thing” I would always ask Mike to talk to them so that later he could translate, read simplify, or “Carl Sagan” for me in a language that even a non-tech English major could understand.

Years ago when a fell out with a boss I had and to get me out from his sight he ostracized me to go on the road and run that company’s design service bureaus Mike was my guide, he showed me the ropes right down to how to talk to designers. He would tell me to “Quit talking so fast those guys, these are designers and you talk like you do to your sales guys they’ll think you’re some kind of back slapping sales ass (& (_) flim-flam man and they’ll tune you out. Take it easy with them speak slowly and like you mean it and they’ll learn to respect you. I did and it worked…thanks Mike.

Mike was indeed the world’s greatest PCB design sales person. Man, he knew everyone out there in the design world and everyone knew him. Being a board sales guy all my life I was always amazed when Mike took me on design sales calls. I was used to selling boards where I would sit for hours waiting for the board buyer to finally come out and sit with me in the lobby. If I was really lucky I would get to go in one of those little rooms off the lobby with the buyer. With Mike selling design services it was a whole other world. I remember my first design sales call with him to Compaq in Texas where instead of having our meeting in the lobby we were met in the lobby by Mike’s contact and then quickly escorted up to the fifth floor of the building to a large conference room filled with Compaq design engineers, there must have been twenty or so of them all anxiously waiting for Mike to show up so they could start talking and debating the virtues of Cadence Vs. Mentor Vs. Pads Vs. Scicards for hours until Mike finally convinced them that he knew a guy who knew a guy who could do software conversions of Cadence design software to any other software and would soon had them eating out of his hand.

This guy always had “an idea” in fact many ideas… so many that when we worked together I had to limit him to two ideas a month instead of the ten or twenty he’d always be coming up with so that the rest of the organization could keep up with him.

Mike is the guy who coined the term “Total Concept” which is still used today to mean the design, fabrication and assembly of PCBs all by one company and as he loved to say “Our customers love it and our competitors hate it.”

And talk about being persistent. When he muckled on to an idea he would keep at it and get it done no matter what it took. He was also the first person I know to come up with the idea embedding PCB designers into OEMs’ sites. And the first guy to come up with having designs controlled in one of our design centers while our designers both direct and subs were embedded in various OEM sites.

But most of all Mike was fine man, a good man a man you could count on no matter what situation you were in. Mike was someone I always looked forward to talking to when I was stuck in a rut and needed to find a creative, nay very creative way out.

I miss will miss those early morning calls with Mike on the other end not even bothering to say “Hi” but rather jumping right in with his latest and greatest scheme with an excited , “Hey have I got a plan for you!”

My heart goes out to Mike’s family his wife Sharon, and children Marcy, Stacy and Michael as well as to all those like me who knew and worked with Mike over the years. Our electronics community particularly the design community is going to miss this kind and gentle soul, the great guy, this idea factory of a man….the world’s greatest PCB design salesman. So long Mike.

Its only common sense.

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Book Recommendation – Disruptive Marketing: What Growth Hackers, Data Punks, and Other Hybrid Thinkers Can teach us about Navigating the New Normal?

A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu:

Disruptive Marketing: What Growth Hackers, Data Punks, and Other Hybrid Thinkers Can teach us about Navigating the New Normal?

Geoffrey Colon

Copyright December 2016 Amacom

Price $24.95

Pages: 234 with Index

This is one Gem of a book

There is no doubt that this is one of the most impressive books you are going to read and dare I say re-read this year. In just a little over a couple of hundred pages Colon changes your perspective ion marketing as you’ve know it. He is predicting the future that is either here today or right one our doorstep ready to come in tomorrow.

From telling us that mobile will be the platform of tomorrow, okay I get that to saying the in the future branding will be “rooted in what customers are talking about and making. Customer responses and feelings toward the brand will dictate the product development or enhancement.”

He goes on to say that the customer is not only always right but in the future, “Every move you make needs to be from the point of view of the customer, even if it might not benefit that company’s bottom line…customers want to go deep into your world. Not simply be told about it.”

In short what he is saying is that everything yes even your products or services all products will rely on the customer experience. How the customers feel using your products and services. The success of your company will be based on not selling to your customers but how you connect with them.

Think about this statement, “Every time someone uses your product, its marketing. Your product represents you. The customer of today wants to feel your product. He does not want to hear about it in an ad; she does not want to see it on TV, they want to experience the product. They want to know the story of the product. They to connect with your company not just have the traditional impersonal buyer-seller relationship they want to actually be involved in your product…not just the product as it is right now but the product of the future the one they will have a say in. Your products will be a result of the strong ongoing collaborative partnership you have with your customers and that is what this book is about.

If you are planning on still being I business in five years or even one year, or even next month, you need to buy and read this book.

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Tales From The PCB Front: A True Story

The young sales person had been waiting patiently for the buyer to come out for almost an hour. He was a bit nervous and also excited because he was finally here. It had taken him literally months to get here. He had worked very hard with prospecting and research and cold calling and leaving messages but he had persevered and in the end it had paid off he finally got an appointment with Mr. Big the buyers for one of the largest defense contractors in the country. And now he was ready. He had his presentation memorized, he knew that his pitch was perfect and there was no way he was going to fail, no sir, not after having come this far.

And now finally Mr. Big came out and motioned him to follow him into one of those little rooms off of the lobby.

Mr. Big: Okay kid you’re finally here, I’ve got to hand it to you you’re one persistent little SOB so tell me what you’ve got.

Eager sales person (ESP): Well sir let me tell you about me company.

Mr. Big: Hold on now son, before you do that let me ask you some questions to make sure we can even do business with you at all. After all we are the largest defense contractor in the country. We are the defenders of not only this country but also the free world so we can’t have just anyone build our printed wiring boards. Okay let me ask you kid. Are you ITAR Registered?

ESP: Yes sir we are.

Mr. Big: And of course you have ISO?

ESP: Yes of course sir.

Mr. Big: And you have your 55110?

ESP: Yes we do

Mr. Big: And you need your AS9100 you have that don’t you?

ESP: Yes sir we do.

Mr. Big: And 31032 do you have that? He asked eyeing the kid suspiciously.

ESP: Yes we that.

Mr. Big: And NADCAP you have your NADCAP don’t you?

ESP: Yes sir we do.

Mr. Big: And your company has instituted Lean Manufacturing?

ESP: Yes sir.

Mr. Big: and JIT?

ESP: Yes we have all of that. The young sales person was looking excited things were looking good for him now.

Mr. Big: How about a Laser Drill and an LDI do you have that equipment as well? Can you do HDI Microvia work?

ESP: (Looking a bit confused) well, yes we have invested almost four million dollars in the past year to make sure we could do HDI Microvia but I didn’t think your company bought HDI Microvia boards?

Mr. Big: No we don’t but we require all of our vendors to be top of the line in case we decide to go in that direction

ESP: Oh do you think you’re be doing that soon?

Mr. Big: I doubt it. But anyway let me ask you do you have our company’s new qualification so that you could qualify as one of our suppliers?

ESP: (Crestfallen) No sir, we have not done any business for you yet so we didn’t start on that qualification yet.

Mr. Big ( with a bright glow of satisfaction in his eyes) Aha, well son you’re going to have to go back to your company and make sure that you qualify to our new spec before we can even talk again. I shouldn’t have even met with you today.

ESP: (Trying be upbeat and not show his disappointment. So let me ask you sir once we have that qualification will we be able to do business with you?

Mr. Big: Whoa hold on there son I can’t commit to anything right now there are steps we have to go through you know. This is a process. After you meet all the spec requirements you have to fill out our survey form and then we you have to build five sample sets of boards, free of course, and then we do a site visit and the you have to submit some sample quotes and if you do all these things in a satisfactory manner we’ll consider putting you on the AVL and sending you some live RFQ’s. Finally if you can turn those quotes around in a timely fashion and if your price is the very lowest of all of our qualified bidders, then you might get an order. But there are promises son. As I told you we are the largest and I might add most important defense contractor in the country. Our products are used to defend the free world we have to be very careful who our vendors are right?

ESP: I see sir, I’ll go back to my company and well do the best we possibly can to be your supplier. Thank you for your time.

Mr. Big: Okay, but don’t come back until you are fully prepared and qualified to me one of our vendors after all…

ESP: I know sir (he says wearily) you are the largest and most important defense contractor in the country and you are saving the free world.

Mr. Big (as his cell phone rings) that’s right son you got it. See you later. I have to take this.

The young sales person leaves dragging his briefcase behind him as Mr. Big answers his cell phone.

Mr. Big: This is Big here what can I do for you?

Mr. Big’s company’s lead PCB designer (PCBD): Can you get me twenty of those 82113 cards as fast as possible Mr. Big?

Mr. Big: Probably but those are really hard to build when do you need them?

PCBD: We need twenty of them in five days.

Mr. Big: are you crazy it takes at least five weeks to get those boards. I can’t help you with that.

PCBD: Well we need them or we’re going to be late on the first system, what am I supposed to do.

Mr. Big: Well dummy why don’t you do what we always do when this happens go to one of those ‘no touch’ sites that advertise in the back of the magazines?

PCBD: I would but I thought all our vendors had to be fully qualified now, especially to our own new spec? Hell we’re not even sure where those boards are actually built.

Mr. Big: Oh forget about that if you need the boards get them from one of those web sites that’ll be good enough. Good enough for government work.

And they both laugh.

End of story

Great story right? The problem is it’s not just a story this happens every single day on our industry, every single day. Now for this one time only…this is not only common sense.

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Catching up with Sunrise Electronics’ Ashok and Jigar Patel

Located in the heart of Chicagoland’s PCB center in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, Sunrise Electronics builds some of the most sophisticated PCB products in the industry—and they build them fast. From 2-mil lines and spaces to sub 3-mil holes, to boards with special materials and metal-backed boards, this father and son, Ashok and Jigar, and their team can do it. In fact, there is little they cannot do. As Ashok told me, “When we have to ‘no bid’ a job I’ll keep the data and try to build the board until I get it right, and then I’ll call the customer back and tell him that we want to now bid. This has gotten us a lot of business since the customer has limited choices anyway, so he gives us a shot.”

I had been hearing about this company for many years, so when Ashok asked me to come and see them for myself, I jumped at the chance. It was one of the most amazing plant tours that I’ve been on in a long time. I wanted to know more, so we sat down and had a chat.


Dan: Ashok, please tell me a little bit about the history of the company.


Ashok: We founded the company in 1997 with the intention of doing exactly what we are doing now, which was to build boards quickly for people. I knew there was a great demand for prototype boards, especially high-tech boards. The company I was working with at the time wanted mostly production from larger companies and did not want to do business with smaller companies. I saw many benefits that someone could get if they were willing to work with those smaller companies, especially when they wanted technology that I knew not a lot of people could do. So we started this company and it has been successful from day one.

Dan: Tell me about what you can do in terms of the technology.

Ashok: We obviously can build your run-of-the-mill, 2−8 layer boards with 5-mil trace/space, but we are able to build product down to 1.5-mil trace/space as well and are continuously pushing the limits of design. A lot of times customers will come to us with a design that may have been shot down by another vendor due to certain design constraints; we view our relationship as a working partnership, and we work together to build a product that others may not be able to. We are willing to invest the time and money so that we can experiment and learn what is preventing us from being able to build it rather than decline the opportunity.

Jigar: We have really enhanced our capabilities on metal-core products as well. Aside from building the typical single-sided aluminum we also build 2-layer aluminum/copper core boards in many ways, one of which is to build it with the metal substrate in between the two copper layers and isolating vias from the metal to prevent shorting.

Dan: Can you give me some insight into your capabilities?

Jigar_Patel.jpgJigar:   Our specialty is and always will be quick-turn fabrication. Generally, our standard lead time is three days, so work is always flowing through the shop quickly and efficiently, allowing us to accommodate incoming quick-turn work regularly. We have later cutoff times than others in the industry. If someone comes to us at 11:00 a.m. and asks us to fab a 2-layer board and it needs to ship that evening, we will be able to do that. We typically have 2−3 orders like this on a daily basis, which are “same-day turn.” Can we do a 4−layer in a same day turn? Yes, but obviously that requires an early start and is contingent upon data.

Dan: You do rigid, flex and rigid-flex, metal-backed and special materials, right?

Ashok: Yes, we can build flex/rigid-flex.

Dan: I know you guys are doing a lot of cutting edge work. Tell me where you think technology is going today and in the future.

Ashok: Products these days are getting smaller and smaller, which is proven by the designs we are quoting and building. I see a greater need for more dense boards where 4/4 trace/space is the norm and 1/1or 2/2 is right around the corner. Nano technology comes to mind as well in the coming years.

Dan: Where do you rate Sunrise in terms of technology?

Jigar: I believe we sit at the top right next to the big guys. We have all the pieces in place, not only with regard to equipment, but also with our personnel.

Dan: Now let’s talk about quality. What are your qualifications and registrations?

Ashok: We have ISO and ITAR certs. We are not certified to Mil-Spec but can build to these certifications and on certain time-sensitive projects we have received waivers to build these products. We are a perfect fit for those who are looking at doing engineering and development builds. We work very closely with our customers and proof of concept and pushing the limits and capabilities of build in order to develop new processes and technologies. Since our lead-times are so short, it allows clients to develop proof of concept sooner and get product to market quicker.

Dan: What makes Sunrise stand out?

Jigar: The fact that we work very closely on product development and deliver 12−48 hour turns on a daily basis helps us help our clients execute more quickly than the rest. We value each of our clients and treat them as our partners. Nothing is more fulfilling than helping them grow their business, which is why a majority of our work comes from referrals. We truly believe in picking up the phone and calling, versus emails, as that adds the personal touch and service goes beyond just building a product. We always like to go that extra mile.

Dan: I know you work with a lot of new product development engineers. Can you talk about that and about the R&D work that you guys do?

Ashok: We have in the past had RFQs that we had to ‘no bid’ because our comfort level with the build was not quite there. However, instead of no bidding and forgetting about it we actually take the files and internally begin building the board to develop to the processes needed to build that type of product in the future. This is done at our own expense, but we learn from it and see value in the expenditure.

Dan: I love that. So you actually do this on your own dime?

Ashok: Yes, absolutely. Look, these people need these boards, they need this technology so we try to provide it to them if we can.

Dan: I know from our tour that you have invested in some new equipment lately. Can you tell us about that?

Jigar: We have made quite a few expenditures in the past year, adding the new Lenz driller/router, which allows us to drill and rout with 0.0005” accuracy. We purchased a via-fill and planarization machine, the Camtek gryphon soldermask/silk printer, and a brand new flying probe tester. We upgraded our AOI systems as well and in the near future we plan to add a pulse plating line. Our expenditures are not only limited to equipment; we have also spent money on personnel—it is very important to have the right people. You are only as good as the people you work with and there is great value in having the correct staff.  We also expanded our facility by acquiring another 10,000 sq. ft. building to expand our drilling and lamination department. Between our main and second building, we operate under a total of 28,000 sq. ft.

Dan: Let’s talk about your customers. What types of companies as customers are you best suited to work for?

Ashok: We have a wide variety of customers we work with and quite a few brokers as well, from small mom and pop shops and students to fortune 500 companies. We have built boards for Amazon, Facebook, Google, Tesla, Intel, Ford and many more.

Dan: What are your plans for the future? Where do you want to go from here?

Ashok: We obviously want to grow just like anyone does, but not at the expense of our existing customer base. We don’t want to be that company that grows at the expense of losing clients due to neglect.

Dan: Where do you want to be in five years?

Ashok: We would like to increase our sales another 20–30% but also want to continually stay ahead of the technology curve.

Dan: What market do you compete in?

Jigar:  We compete in the quick-turn prototype market, but our standard lead times and price points are less than the competition.

Dan: What are the challenges for competing in that market?

Jigar: We address the challenges for this market by expanding and adding the equipment and personnel. More shops are vying for quick-turn now but they still cannot do it in the fashion that we do. We just received a 2-layer order right now at 11:30 a.m. and we plan on shipping it tonight, in less than 10 hours.

Dan: What do you consider good service?

Jigar: Service is everything, and it is the backbone of Sunrise. One of the main reasons that we are growing is due to our service. We make ourselves accessible always, which the client appreciates. I have clients that are on the West Coast, two hours behind us and have plenty of options locally to get product from, but they come to us because we are always there to service their needs. We are old school in that sense but it is more than an order for us; it is about making sure our clients succeed.

Dan: What do you think your customers are looking for when it comes to service?

Ashok: Plain and simple they want that accessibility to the right person no matter the time and day, especially when it comes to quick turn. We are always there to respond to any needs whether it is good or bad. Let’s be honest, it is manufacturing and not everything always runs flawlessly, but we won’t hide from our mistakes either. Also, even if it isn’t our mistake, we view our relationship as a partnership and will work with the client on resolving the issue even if it means sharing the expense.

Dan: How do you get the word out?

Ashok:  Honestly we have no marketing mechanism—our website is outdated and we don’t really have a dedicated sales team. A lot of our business has been word of mouth—we let our work do the marketing for us. Marketing is something that we are going to be focusing on in the next twelve months.

Dan: In order to stay at the top of the technology ladder you have to invest in the future. What are your plans for investments in the near future?

Ashok: We would like to get a laser drill/router and add pulse rectifier plating. Both pieces of equipment complement each other; we can drill smaller vias than 6 mil and the pulse rectifier helps us plate these holes. Also the laser router will help greatly with routing of the flex boards. These investments will prepare us for the higher end market in building more dense boards. One of our goals is to get to nano technology and get more comfortable with sub 3/3 lines and spaces.

Dan: Finally, what are your thoughts of our industry?

Ashok:  From when I first started to now the industry has shrunk considerably and a lot of work has been shifted overseas, but technology is continually evolving and the need for R&D will always exist. Our future, as our past has been, is based on providing our customers with high technology, quick-turn products. We’ll do that by investing in the right people and equipment to keep us ahead of the technology and service curve.

Dan: I appreciate you taking all of this time to talk with me.

Ashok: My pleasure, Dan.

Jigar: Same here, Dan.

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Dan Beaulieu is a 30-year PCB industry veteran, and sales and marketing expert and writer who has contributed to numerous industry publications, on topics ranging from sales and marketing, to board shop performance.

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