PCB007 Magazine

PCB007-Feb2019

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68 PCB007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2019 great cash flow because we had credit cards coming in with the orders. We didn't have to spend the labor to quote every order down to the nth degree. With some orders, we may have lost money; meanwhile, we had a pretty good margin on some, but overall, we did well from a margin standpoint. Fast forward to about four or five years ago as all the competition came online and started making that the go-to way. You mentioned Ad- vanced Circuits, Sierra Circuits, many compa- nies in China, and the Midwest got on board with that. We saw a shift back towards, as you said, with relationship management. We've added a couple of account representatives to be that person for the majority of the custom- ers that want to interact that way. We're looking to add another one or two, hopefully, this coming year. And we're going back the other direction. We're still keeping our presence with the website by continuing to offer more so that the customers that do want to continue ordering that way have it available, and we make that a good experience for them. However, we are adding quite a bit more inter- nal resources to help the people that want that personal touch and relationship, so they want to partner with Sunstone and interact with us, before the order, during the order, and after the order. Matties: It's an interesting shift because I know a lot of people were really excited about the internet. When you're looking at selling your services, generally speaking—not on the web so much but with the relationship—what's the greatest challenge in selling services? Stevenson: At this point, with the tremendous amount of competition out there, even the over- seas suppliers have pretty decent quality, and with some of the changes to the customs, etc., they're able to respond quickly as far as the shipping goes. Trying to differentiate the val - ues that Sunstone brings to a potential custom- er is a challenge in a short-burst digital world. How do you show the value-add that Sunstone brings when you have 28 words in a Google ad, or you have 300 by 600 pixels to do it in a dis - play ad? How do you differentiate yourself from the myriad of people out there quickly and ef- fectively, and how do you sustain that? Matties: Being unique in the marketplace is a great challenge where we all say, "It's quality, price, delivery." All of the attributes became platitudes. When you add the digital speed, as you mentioned, and the capability of China to produce low-volume, high-mix, your challeng- es continue to grow. What's your strategy for overcoming all of that? Stevenson: Sunstone is making a concerted ef- fort not only to add that personal touch and develop those relationships with our current customers, but we want to expand those rela- tionships within the companies that we already have relationships with. How do we attract the other engineers that are sitting around a partic- ular customer that we already have? We're tar- geting a couple of industries that are really hot and growing, trying to get out in front of those people that are at the beginning of their de- sign process or the entrepreneurial candidates. How did they get their product to market? How can Sunstone be involved from the beginning? To supply them a good quality product, give them the content that they need to help them succeed. How do we truly partner with them to get it from concept to reality? Johnson: Are you still targeting those who are looking for smaller volumes? Stevenson: We have seen a little bit of a shift of ordering; obviously, fewer prototype spins because of some of the technology that's out

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