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118 The PCB Magazine • March 2014 Against a backdrop of depressed U.S. eco- nomic conditions across all industry sectors and a pullback in funding needed to grow our businesses since at least 2009, coupled with the offshoring of many circuit manufacturing op- portunities, these are truly challenging times to operate a U.S.-based printed circuit board man- ufacturing or electronics contract manufactur- ing operation. Over the past decade, the military/aerospace sector has transitioned from a period of acceler- ated DX-rated contract manufacturing in sup- port of our country's multiple war efforts to a post-war period. We are currently in the midst of the attendant phased pull-out of troops, and have warily watched our inconsistent and at times recalcitrant Congress paralyzed by inac- tion. Those of us doing business in this sector have also navigated government funding shut- downs and tried to optimize our operations in advance of the looming indiscriminate se- questration defense budget cuts. Alas, we have now been presented with a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill that largely negates those cuts near term, and in fact provides funding great- er than the Pentagon's sequestered budget re- quest. Like me, your initial response may bring to mind the ubiquitous text response, "WTH?" But I would like to explore the current military circuit board business environment in a slightly more mature fashion and pose a key question for us all to consider. As business executives, how do we operate, navigate and manage a military/aerospace-ori- ented circuit board shop or CEM operation in such an unstable and unpredictable environ- ment? The lifeblood of any circuit board or CEM, or any business for that matter, is a predictable and profitable sales backlog. Key to capturing and maintaining mil/aero customer and pro- gram opportunities, and thus providing a stable backlog that provides an opportunity to plan and to grow, is fully understanding the mil/aero market and the status of customers and their programs at a very intimate level. Equally im- portant is to understand the DoD funding asso- ciated with each of the programs you support. John Vaughan circuit solutions llc. Foreign Military Sales: Back to the Future for Sales Opportunities c o l u m n mil/aero markets

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