Originally published in SMTToday magazine.
A quick google search of “pcb assembly” gives 949,000 results. It’s an oversaturated market with most players offering similar services and capabilities. Each contract manufacturer (CM) is vying to stand out in this competitive landscape.
Ironically, most of the messaging from these CM’s looks the same. In order to even show up in pertinent web search results, sales and marketing materials are forced to cover basic solutions and capabilities. We all buy the same components and use the same machines to assemble products. We all promise world-class quality and on-time deliveries at a competitive price. Is it possible to distinguish one from another? And how do we attract and keep clients in this environment?
Since 2002, Saline Lectronics has uniquely positioned itself as an electronics manufacturing partner by providing assembly solutions. We’ve risen above the chaotic noise to distinguish ourselves in this competitive landscape.
The current of energy that flows through Lectronics’ plant is more than just the humming of production machines or voltages powering up printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs). It’s a palpable energy that can be felt upon entering the lobby and carries throughout the entire organization. Employees and customers alike are drawn to it.
Located in the small town of Saline, Michigan, Lectronics doesn’t look like other assembly plants. It is bright, immaculately clean, and laid out with a design aesthetic that establishes it as a 21st century technology company. Natural light is hard to come by in a manufacturing facility, so the interior has a vivid color pallet of blues, greens and yellows.
The interior design provides an enjoyable place for employees to work and clients to visit. After a new customer’s on-site visit, Lectronics typically receives the same feedback – it’s the cleanest and most organized CM in the area. Order and cleanliness are both critical in electronics manufacturing. Constantly juggling shifting requirements, a clean floor isn’t just nice to look at, it’s necessary in order to keep the assembly process moving efficiently.
Five years ago, a thirty-year industry veteran commented that this business was the most stressful he had ever worked in. It’s a fast-paced, high energy work environment that requires complete flexibility and thorough communication. He’d left the industry for a couple of years to dabble in something more relaxing, but eventually returned because he was bored. He missed the buzz (no pun intended).
As an Electronic Contact Manufacturer, we have an interesting work approach because we don’t build our own product. We’re at the whim of the customer, with less control over the final product, the environment can feel reactive rather than proactive. The day can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a matter of a minute – a part doesn’t show up; a PCBA fails in test; an important customer requests an overnight expedite. Priorities are constantly shifting.
A lot of employees, and organizations, buckle under this constant pressure. Lectronics is fortunate because the majority of our people thrive in this environment. There’s a group think of working together doing whatever it takes to get the job done. Solving the problem with the necessary resources. In fact, we’ve been known to pull an all-night to meet a client’s last minute, emergency pull-in.
This collective sense of togetherness and partnership creates a customer-centric environment. Lectronics is hyper focused on keeping their clients happy. From account managers to receiving clerks, everyone at Lectronics knows that the primary goal is to meet customer’s demands. Walk around the organization on any given day and you’re likely to overhear, “let’s pull together to get this done for our customer!”.
Our customers know that they come first. Because the sales team performs diligent reviews at each new opportunity, we only work with clients that are interested in a true partnership. This extreme commitment to the customer wouldn’t be sustainable unless the customer cared. It’s clear that our customers appreciate the special treatment they receive.
In a recent survey, a longtime medical customer commented, “As always, the Saline [Lectronics] team is exemplary and the organization is singularly focused on customer satisfaction.”
Another customer also shared, “We have been very pleased with the Saline [Lectronics] partnership this year. Your rapid response on quotes, strong engineering support, and on-time deliveries and high quality have made Saline [Lectronics] our CM of choice.”
The Mario Effect
It’s impossible to understand Lectronics without describing President and CEO, Mario Sciberras. There is no Lectronics without him – he’s the heartbeat of this company. If you ask any of our clients to describe us, his name always comes up.
He’s intense, passionate, dogged, committed. He can come off as abrupt, and he may not be for everyone – rarely men at his C-level are. He’s loyal and takes care of both his customers and valuable employees. Sciberras’ passion and commitment are reflected in how he runs the organization.
“He knows everything that goes on with our customers here and that’s very unusual for a CEO,” commented Sandra Jacobs, VP of Sales. “He’s entrenched in everything – always out on the floor with our workers taking the time to know the assemblies that we build. He’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done for the customer, so if that means working on the line to pack finished assemblies, he’ll be out there stuffing boxes. He’s even shown up at a customer’s front door to hand-deliver finished product.”
Sciberras is all feel and leans toward an older style of conducting business. In order to establish trust and a strong partnership, Sciberras really wants to know his clients. He’s the type of CEO who drives to the airport to pick-up a new customer. He could send an Uber, but he chooses to go himself. It gives him an opportunity to understand what this new customer might need and how best to position Lectronics to perfectly service that need.
Our customer-centric approach is led by Sciberras. Putting the customer first isn’t some clever marketing ploy, it’s his entire business strategy. And he makes sure that his organization hires employees who embrace this customer-first way of thinking.
People Focused Culture
Lectronics has a diverse group of employees ranging in age from 20 to 71. For a company that’s only been in business for 15 years, the average length of employment is seven years. Millennials and baby boomers are working together to solve manufacturing and assembly challenges. This multi-faceted, agile group of people come with a wide range of experience and education. It’s this unique blend of personalities and capabilities that helps to distinguish the organization.
“We’ve not only grown as a company, we’ve also grown as a family,” commented Robin Fullerton, senior account manager. “In the fifteen years that I’ve been here, I’ve witnessed marriages, babies, grandchildren, and even, death.”
With 36% of their workforce 50 years and older, Lectronics’ has an experienced, knowledgeable talented pool with a rich work history in electronics manufacturing. These employees are an excellent resource for our client base. Through the expertise of our workers, we offer clients specific and tailored assembly solutions based on hands-on practical experience.
“I definitely enjoy the Design for Manufacturability (DfM) reviews with your engineering team and feel that is a strong point of favor in doing business with Saline Lectronics,” commented a product design and development customer. “Looking forward to getting into full production with your team!”
Another 36% of Lectronics’ workforce is 35 years and younger. It’s well established that this millennial generation is incredibly comfortable with emerging technologies, and these employees have been integral in helping Lectronics properly embrace and utilize the applications available within the Internet of Things (IoT). Industry 4.0 is taking manufacturing by storm and most CM’s are scrambling to figure out how to incorporate this strategy into their business model.
Lectronics 4.0 Connected Factory
Lectronics is ahead of the competition, and were one of the first mid-sized EMS providers to integrate a smart factory system. Without millennials Jason Sciberras, VP of Manufacturing and Operations, and Tom Scales, IT Manager, advocating and pushing to adopt these new technologies, we wouldn’t have a connected factory to offer our customers today.
Lectronics 4.0 smart factory system automatically connects all of their intelligent production equipment in order to seamlessly exchange data. The machine to machine (M2M) communication creates a unified production system and integrated manufacturing experience. Lectronics 4.0 offers real-time data to the manufacturing floor that guarantees transparency and enhanced quality to our end customers.
“Problems can’t be solved unless you understand them. There is no subjectivity to numbers and data because they don’t have any human interference. I needed better data and visibility in order to improve our manufacturing processes, which is why I chose to implement, piece by piece, different components of our smart factory system,” commented Jason Sciberras.
On average, our customers have been with us for ten years. They’re acutely aware of the hundreds of other CM’s they could contract for electronic assembly services – those competitors are knocking on their doors too – but they choose to stay. Once they’ve had a taste of Lectronics’ energy, that customer-centric and people focused culture, it’s difficult to go anywhere else.
At the risk of sounding corny, partnering with Lectronics is like joining a family. A committed, extravagant, and aggressive family that works tirelessly to understand and actualize their customers’ goals and end-products. Besides, how many other CM’s can say their CEO physically works on the assembly line? Not many, I bet.