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34 SMT007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2023 Feature Q&A Oregon-based Axiom Electronics specializes in complex assembly services for aviation, mil/ aero, and similar complex high-reliability sec- tors. Rob Rowland, director of engineering at Axiom, shares a bullish outlook for 2024 tem- pered by a few key concerns. For 2024, how would you describe your economic outlook for the industry and your company's business outlook? What are you optimistic about? What are you worried about? Overall, things are looking better for the elec- tronics industry and, in general, companies are optimistic that 2024 will be a good year. e outlook for our company heading into 2024 is good. Like many companies, our business was flat during the pandemic, so we are pleased to see things heading in a positive direction. Material availability continues to be our main worry. It is better now than it was during the pandemic, but the mil/aero supply chain has not fully recovered. Inflation and interest rates are also a concern. What's your perspective on buying capital equipment with cash vs. financing? Managing cash is always important. With rising interest rates, financing isn't as attrac- tive as it once was. It also depends on the cost of the equipment. For example, if it's less than $10,000 we would lean toward paying cash. If it's more than $10,000, we would lean toward financing. Is inventory management and/or supply chain tying up capital you would otherwise use for capital investments? Yes, inventory does tie up capital and this was an issue even before the pandemic. Some pro- grams have component lead times of nine to 12 months, and even longer in some cases. While we are waiting for these long lead time parts, a key question is, "Do I buy the shorter lead time parts now while they are available or do I wait six months and hope they are still avail- able when I really need them?" Of course, buy- ing sooner ties up capital. is issue will always be a concern for some mil/aero programs with long lead times. Mil/Aero Gaining Altitude and Velocity at Axiom Rob Rowland

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