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PCB-Aug2016

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26 The PCB Magazine • August 2016 Matties: That's still pretty close. That's a pretty aggressive timeline from Phase 1 to Phase 3. Driver: It is, and we are 14–15 months into this project. The due diligence and the bureaucracy and getting everything organized has been a lot slower than we'd perhaps have liked. We are building a bespoke single-side PCB shop. There is already a lot of competition in the PTH and multilayer market. We feel that Spirit Circuits has had a good model here for the last 15–16 years on 1–8 layer quick-turn. Over eight layers we've got strong competition in the UK anyway so we've concentrated on the lower end, but do it well, do it quick, and with a specialism in thermal management. We have very good ther- mal engineers working for us and we give cus- tomers an educated choice on what materials they choose to use. We don't ally ourselves with any one particular manufacturer of materials, but we do extensive testing and we do design and offer some assembly as well. Matties: Why did you choose that location over this one? Driver: The footprint in Romania is the attrac- tion. Most people want to say it's the labor cost. Currently the labor cost is of course an attrac- tion, but it won't stay that way, as it didn't in Poland or the Czech Republic. It's the actual footprint. The building, the land and the utili- ties are all low-cost. It's a low-cost central East- ern European location. To put it in context, the electricity is one-third of the cost per kilowatt- hour to that of the UK, water is one-third of the cost of the UK, and the local government taxes are one-tenth of the cost. Our total cost of oper- ation is so much less expensive than being here. Why Romania? Also in Romania, location is pretty important. A lot of our business is deal- ing with contract manufacturers in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, and France. Prob- ably 40% of our business now is in Europe and we see more of our customers moving over into the central and Eastern European locations. Ro- mania itself wasn't our first choice. We looked at other countries like Bulgaria and Macedonia, but we've had very good encouragement from the educated workforce that's available in Ro- mania. There is also the opportunity for Euro- pean funding, which we haven't had any yet but that we're hoping to get. We're coming down into the Southwest of Romania, whereas in the Northwest at the mo- ment there is quite good development there. We've got big companies like Flextronics and Kimball that are already very well established up in Timisoara. We're down in Dolj County at a town called Craiova, where there is still some government assistance available and where there's still around 10% unemployment. We have our first 16 employees here. None of them have PCB experience. They are here at Spirit for two to three months for training. There isn't any significant PCB manufacturing in Romania so we are completely starting from zero with our skill base and knowledge base. Matties: That could be a big plus actually. Driver: I'd like to think so. We want to be a little bit disruptive with some of our processes and SPIRIT CIRCUITS: BUILDING A NEW FACTORY IN ROMANIA...WITH AN ALEX STEPINSKI INFLUENCE

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