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14 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2021 Feature Interview by Nolan Johnson I-CONNECT007 Nolan Johnson talks with Todd Brassard, VP/COO at Calumet Electronics. ey start by discussing the definition of operational ex- cellence, followed by its key components. en Todd shares a helpful book and AS stan- dard that have become the foundation for Cal- umet's operational excellence. Nolan Johnson: Todd, how do you become op- erationally excellent? Todd Brassard: Before a company can de- fine how to become operationally excellent, they must define what operational excellence means to them. Johnson: ere's the reaction response which suggests that it's maximizing gross margin, right? Brassard: Undoubtedly. A mentor once told me, "A company must make enough money to pay the bills today and have enough le over to invest in the future." We have learned that operational excellence is a journey much more than an end unto itself. Johnson: How has Calumet's operational excel- lence evolved over time? Brassard: I was a contractor for Calumet for five years before joining the company. I remember the telecoms boom when there was so much work the halls were lined with A-frames. I also remember the telecoms crash which I now know cut the company's business by 60% over a very short 18 months. en offshoring took hold in the U.S. and operational excellence meant just keeping the doors open. Between 2003 and 2013, Calumet's CEO Steve Vairo pulled off the seemingly impossible by keeping the company alive, growing, and investing while the PCB industry in the United States contracted by 80%. At this point, oper- ational excellence was defined by the compa- ny's ability to keep investing in the future while the U.S. industry continued to wither. Over this period, Steve continued to build and re- fine Calumet's equipment set, improving capa-

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