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16 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2020 Johnson: At the risk of oversimplifying, one of the major drivers for this change in every com- pany is finding a customer that cares enough to push their supplier. Williams: Yes. Matties: You have to be willing first because if you go back to the blue-line printing example that I mentioned earlier, we were forced to go find another supplier, and the customer has to be willing to change suppliers, too. If we continue to reward inefficient suppliers, then we're perpetuating the problem and become a part of the problem. Williams: And that's hard to believe because customers are getting more sophisticated. They know that a supplier with an inefficient process is somehow passing that cost along to them, and they have to be willing to go some- place else; in most cases, they do eventually. Matties: Where do you go to find a PCB fabri- cator that's truly more efficient? Williams: You have to set foot in a facility, not just choose your suppliers based on a quote. You have to see what they're doing, but a lot of customers don't. I keep going back to my prior life, but one of the things that set us apart from other contract manufacturers was we did sup- plier development. We looked for long-term re- lationships. We went through a whole bunch of predic- tive tools to make sure that we were select- ing the right company, and relying on ISO was okay for a first filter, but that didn't tell us any- thing about their technology or if they did it for the wallpaper. Were they going to scale with us? You have to be in their facility, not origi- nally, but ongoing to make sure that they are still performing at a high level because without walking through, you don't know. Matties: Maybe part of this is that North Amer- ica, in particular, is a business climate made up of low to small prototype volume, and, ul- timately, price doesn't matter all that much on doing, it's the same thing with a new name, so they're more energized. Matties: None of it is new. Build the best products for the lowest costs possible. That's business. Williams: Not too long ago, I ran into a good friend of mine who runs one of the aerospace plants for a major manufacturer, and we were talking about this exact same thing. He said, "We have a couple of facilities that are doing this work, and if I ran this terribly complicated board through this one shop, and they got a 50% yield, they would be slapping each other on the back, saying, 'We did such a good job.' But if I ran that same board through another one of my facilities, and we had a 99% yield, they would say, 'What happened to the other 1%?'" It's all about mindset. Johnson: You also mentioned reaching out to a supplier and telling them you want to help get their costs down so that you pay less, but they preserve their margins. Does it come down to manufacturers having some customers push them like that? Williams: There's some air to that for customers who don't often take that approach. They want the lowest unit price, period, and they don't care how you get there. We embraced the fact that we're both going to be happier if the sup- plier becomes more efficient. We didn't change suppliers for a nickel better price from some- body else. Customers—OEMs and ODMs— driving that mentality down to their suppliers are one of the reasons companies are able to change their mindset; they can see that it's not just them. It's relatable. We embraced the fact that we're both going to be happier if the supplier becomes more efficient.

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