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54 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2023 Metals and wire harnesses are part of our assemblies, so do you have anything in those areas? ose are very expensive." In the past, some of our larger customers told us they con- sidered going offshore to find more competi- tive pricing and needed some help with devel- oping relationships. Before long, when a customer sees that you've done a good job with a particular com- modity, they get excited about other opportu- nities. "is has really worked out better than we expected," they say. "Now, what about help- ing us with other custom projects?" With our feet on the ground in Asia, it's likely we can find a supplier, put them through our rigorous approval process, test them out, have some prototypes and samples made, and develop a source for a customer who has that need. I'm imagining that this turns into a complete kit for the EMS box build supplier. It could be. On the printed circuit board assem- bly side, of course, there are a lot of compo- nents involved. We're not buying components; if it's not custom, and you can get it from a dis- tributor, then it's not something we focus on. Obviously, this works well as a supplement for ASC's customers. What feedback are you getting from customers? What is the need for this? Let me share an example of a large industrial customer in the safety business with a product widely used in the market. ey had an excel- lent reputation, and it was something every- body wanted. But just because you have the best market share, don't think you can fall asleep at the wheel; there are many competitors nipping at your heels. Over time, when their orders dwindled, the company slashed its budgets. Smaller, nimbler competitors were beating them on price and the company was losing market share. e sales department said, "Our prices are too high. We're being beat, and we don't know how." Well, it was easy to see how it happened: Other companies did a better job with procure- ment. With this large company, it had a spe- cific rule in purchasing not to run out of mate- rial, but when you have that kind of attitude, purchasers are just re-buyers; they're trying to keep up with the demand. at's when the company must ask itself, "How do we repair this?" We believe they must develop a supply base that can provide more competitive products. If the purchasing department doesn't have the skills to go offshore, this becomes a problem that can't be solved in just a few months. If a company isn't being as competitive as it can, competitors will move in and business slows down. It's easier for an outsider to see what's happening, and I oen find companies resist the help. "We're buying it from this person for a reason," they say. "We've had a relationship there for 10 or 20 years." It keeps them from doing the right thing. In this particular situation with the industrial customer, they admitted, "We don't do this very well, and we're relying on you to manage your inventory so that we don't have to inven- tory it ourselves. You'll need to provide sam- Bob Duke

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