PCB007 Magazine

PCB-Feb2018

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FEBRUARY 2018 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 21 customer to be at the table; and once wherever it will be placed, then a great deal more con- versation takes place. Two things are key on a contract manufac- turing level. They actually measure their sales people on the number of NDAs they bring in to get signed—that's number one. And then number two is plant tours. Plant tours to con- tract manufacturers are far more important. They're important to board shops, but they're far more important to contract manufactur- ers—because on the board side, you're liter- ally building one part of a product, whereas the contract manufacturer is going to build the entire product. So, it is a much closer re- lationship. Several of my friends own quick- turn CM shops and I know they do a great job. They do things faster. They're much more streamlined but there are things like under - stood parts—part substitutions that are un- derstood—because of speed. It's like they'll settle , they'll build the first pieces, but they don't always stay there. After the prototype is done, they might go to a part that's harder to get, that has a longer lead time but is a bet - ter part for it; but they wanted to see that the fir st builds work. But I find there's less of this breakdown in communications, if that's the shorter answer. Goldman: What we're all hearing here is that regardless of who your customer is—and cus- tomer can be defined rather broadly, internal, external down the stream a bit—but the big thing is communication. Would that be true? Beaulieu: Absolutely. And also, in what Nolan was talking about, I understand the need for that type of enclosed no-touch business. I've talked to one of the presidents of our country's largest no-touch and he told me that a lot of his business comes, believe it or not, on Christ- mas Eve, and on Christmas Day. Because that's what a lot of designers do. Not at the higher level, but at the NPI and hobbyist level; they really do not want to communicate, you know? I worked with one company—that we all know as a traditional company—that's got a call cen- ter and also has no-touch. I was running its sales force. I asked why my sales guys couldn't have the list of the no-touch customers. And the boss said, "Are you kidding? Those people would go berserk if somebody called them up. They don't want to be called up." It was very interesting. I managed designers for years and I know the sales guy that I am. One of my friends ad- vised me to tone it down when talking to de- signers because they're just a much more me- thodical group who doesn't want some back- slapping sales guy talking to them. Johnson: I think you're right Dan. We have plenty of customers who just don't even want to be contacted, and then we have other cus- tomers who are perfectly willing to start hav- ing that conversation. For me, what I'm dis- covering is that if they're thinking production, they're more likely to want to talk to us and keep the information flowing. There's a rea- son that Sunstone also keeps a 24/7/365 cus- tomer support line going. We have our custom- ers who are placing orders on holidays. You know, introvert type designers hiding out from their family on Thanksgiving; while the turkey is being cooked, they are making their design order. We see this all the time, which is a key part of how this business operates. But it's in- teresting, what I was hearing from this whole communications bit, the further downstream you are, closer to production, the more likely communication is to happen. We're in a unique spot. We're at the very front of that whole manufacturing chain where there are a lot of things being sorted out. We do learn a lot of things, but the next step down doesn't necessarily mean that every- body's ready to hear from upstream. I think that's the point I'm trying to make there. The There's a reason that Sunstone also keeps a 24/7/365 customer support line going.

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