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44 PCB007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2021 on, such as when a chiller dies and it shouldn't have, but it does, and you have to replace it. One of the big expenses we've had over the last few years is NIST-800, CMMC, and IPC- 1791—just security, cybersecurity, and all that goes with it. For us, that meant spending a lot of money on consultants, which is not really capital, but then basically redoing our entire IT and physical plant security systems, which was a major capital upgrade. I could argue, did we really need it all to run the business? No. But to be in the markets we're in, we certainly did. So, we spent a lot of money on what was an unforeseen expense. If you'd talked to me five years ago and said, "You're going to spend a few hundred thousand dollars on IT and secu- rity stuff," I would have said, "Really? For our company? I don't think so." But we have. And because we've done that, we are now IPC-1791 certified. I think we were the fourth fabricator in the country to get that certification. We're in good shape for the CMMC, if and when that finally rolls out, to be at least level three. We're hoping for level four. But that was all unex- pected. When you're looking at capital in a com- pany our size with limited resources, you have to plan it out and be flexible enough to move around priori- ties when things occur. If I were in an assembly business, which is quite different, that's dealing with an entire line. I'm guess- ing that you've got the same issue of needing to replace a line at some point with newer or better. But you're also prob- ably looking at what mix of business am I quoting, and do I have enough capacity or capa- bility for that particular mix? You're probably focusing more on the sales end of what you need vs. the operations of what you need. We all need more test measurement, verification, and validation equipment. Everyone needs that, no matter what industry you're in. If I were a larger fabricator, I'd be doing what I'm doing, but on steroids. It's a lot more money, and a lot more complex. Matties: You've mentioned a couple of things. One, it's a replacement strategy and you have end-of-life equipment that you must replace. When you look at replacement, you're usu- ally either looking at adding the latest technol- ogy or adding capacity. But on the IT side, it's what you had to do to stay in the marketplace, so it really was a strategic expenditure that you made there. Bigelow: Correct. Matties: But you indicated that it was a sur- prise. Why was it a surprise? Bigelow: e surprise was that, once you start to work on one aspect, it mushrooms into everything. As soon as we started working on making our systems "secure" to communicate in and out of the company, as well as interact with our customers and suppliers, it started a Peter Bigelow

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