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44 SMT007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2023 Feature Q&A Ch a r l e s Ca p e r s i s t h e p r e v i o u s V P a n d general manager at Zentech Dallas and is cur- rently working within the global quote group. He has started and managed several award- winning electronics companies during his career, which makes him well versed across multiple disciplines, including circuit board design, manufacturing, and assembly. 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? I cannot speak for the entire industry, but for the smaller EMS companies I'm in contact with, business seems to be very brisk. Our company has been extremely busy for the past several years as the demand for mil/aero has seen an increase due to tensions in the geopo- litical landscape, and ongoing wars in certain regions of the world. We are optimistic about the next five to 10 years due to multiple, major program wins with some of the largest military contractors in the country. e downside is the ability to procure all the materials we need to build products in a timely manner. In some cases, we are still seeing lead times that extend beyond one year. Also, for the past couple of years, talent acquisition and retention has been a challenge. Is inventory management and/or supply chain tying up capital you would otherwise use for capital investment? Yes and no. EMS companies are somewhat accli- mated to floating capital for 30–90 days before the end customer pays their invoices. Prior to the pandemic, this was the normal operating procedure. During the pandemic and later, we saw a shi in the willingness of customers to bear the materials cost burden to ensure unin- terrupted production flow. Nowadays, cus- tomers are more willing to pay for materials in advance in order to stockpile while waiting on items that have extended lead times. What's your perspective on buying capital equipment with cash vs. financing? Cash is always king in my opinion, but not always a smart decision in running a company Overcoming the Growth Bottleneck Charles Capers

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