The Key to Longevity in the EMS Industry is Consistency

In sports they call it the “three-peat”.

It is a term when a team wins three consecutive championships. The New York Yankees, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers are some of the elite teams that have accomplished this feat. Currently were watching to see if Team Canada can pull off their third consecutive gold medal at the world hockey championships.

Recently, Creation Technologies won the ‘Highest Overall Customer Rating’ in Circuits Assembly’s Service Excellence Awards for the third year in a row!

This award is based solely on feedback directly from OEM customers to electronics industry analyst, Circuits Assembly, and is an incredible achievement.

Creation ranks first overall amongst all EMS providers in the $500M+ category across all 5 categories of:

  • Responsiveness
  • Value for Price
  • Dependability
  • Quality
  • Technology

And while we are far from being compared to a sports dynasty, it demonstrates that we are achieving what we strive every day to deliver: consistent service to our customers.

Consistency is one of the key reasons why we have been successful for over 25 years. Our customers know our value offering and recognize that we put their needs first.

Being dependable is an art that comes with experience. These are some of the ways that we have been able to maintain consistency with our partners.

 

Our People

I get to be part of the best team in the world.

I am certain that a lot of CEOs say this, but I truly mean it. Creation is the most customer-focused company I have ever been a part of.

We have over 3,000 talented people, who have expertise, drive and heart. Every day in every business unit, they work together to solve problems, overcome challenges, and get things done.

This is a trait that cannot be taught. We choose people who have that innate desire to serve our customers and embrace our company’s core values.

 

Our Responsiveness

The hallmark of our customer service model is our ability to react.

The needs of our customers have always dictated how our business operates. With our various experts and multiple years of experience, we are able to take a customer’s problem and quickly find an efficient and effective solution.

One of the main differentiators we have over our competition is our customer-focused team (CFT) model. For every customer, we have a dedicated team that ensures projects are completed on time and at the highest quality. When customers have questions, we make it a priority to find them answers in a timely manner.

 

Our Quality

At the end of the day, you won’t last very long with your customers or this industry for that matter if you don’t consistently build quality products.

To optimize performance and eliminate product failures, we leverage our engineering expertise, invest in best-in-class machines, and design a cost-effective test stand solution.

Delivering quality products is also achieved through being proactive. Our team identifies software or hardware issues early on in the process, so that products work properly in the field.

Winning our third Service Excellence Award in a row is proof of our Continuous Improvement efforts, and the amazing collaboration between so many people – our Creation team, our customers’ teams, and our suppliers’ teams – to deliver “service excellence” to our customers that clearly differentiates Creation in the EMS industry.

So cheers to another great year as we attempt to complete a “four peat”.

It’s Not Every Day that the President Sleeps Next Door

Creation Technologies' San Jose Business Unit appeared in Presidential Visit to Bay Area news coverage
Creation Technologies’ San Jose Business Unit appeared in Presidential Visit to Bay Area news coverage

It’s not every day that you see yourself in news footage covering the comings and goings of the US President. But that’s exactly what happened when our company, Creation Technologies, appeared in a FOX KTVU news broadcast when the President visited the Bay Area this week.

I can’t tell you how much fun it was for our global team to see the Creation–San Jose business unit on the broadcast, and then hear San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo share that he and the President spoke briefly about the opportunities in technology, especially for young people.

With innovation on the tips of everyone’s tongues, this is an extremely exciting time for technology companies like ours, both in the Valley and across the globe.

 

Congratulations to Paul Ryan, New Speaker of the House

paul_ryan_creation_technologies2

Made in the USA

There is a certain element of pride whenever you can say you build and sell your products and services domestically. But just as big a thrill is knowing that your elected officials support what you do.

Less than two months ago, Congressman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) took time out of his busy schedule to visit Creation’s Oak Creek, Wisconsin business unit and show his support for our company and the U.S. manufacturing sector as a whole. This week in Washington, he was officially elected as the 54th Speaker of the House of Representatives.

For companies like Creation in the electronics manufacturing sector, the announcement is exciting.
According to the IPC Association, the world’s leading association for electronics manufacturing companies, there are an estimated 800,000 employees in over 2,200 U.S. member facilities. Having leaders with proven support of domestic manufacturing and knowledge of our sector can stimulate economic growth in our American manufacturing communities.

paul_ryan_creation_technologies1
From left to right: James Stevenson, Eric Bohnsack, Rep. Paul Ryan, John Mitchell (IPC), Ron Euer

During his visit to Oak Creek, Rep. Ryan spoke about the global impact of innovation within America’s electronics industry.

“Creation Technologies is on the cutting edge of our economy. They’re promoting innovation and creating the jobs of the 21st century. We’ve got to streamline the regulatory process so more manufacturers in southeast Wisconsin can expand opportunity from the bottom up,” said Congressman Paul Ryan.

Rep. Ryan’s visit was in conjunction with IPC’s “Meet the Policymakers” program, which resulted in government leaders visiting three of Creation’s U.S. locations in the past year. In addition to Congressman Ryan’s appearance, IPC has helped coordinate visits from U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (Minnesota) to Creation–St Peter and U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson (Texas) to Creation–Dallas.

With Ryan’s new position, many are optimistic that domestic manufacturing will continue to get stronger, enrich communities, and keep America on the cutting-edge of technological advancement.

For more from IPC about Paul Ryan’s new role, read their latest press release:

IPC Congratulates Congressman Paul Ryan on Election to Speaker of the House of Representatives Statement from John Mitchell, IPC President and CEO

Healthcare’s Slice of IoT: Wirelessly Connected Medical Devices

Connected Medical Devices and IoT
Connected Medical Devices and IoT

The billion-device, billion-dollar Internet of Things (IoT) holds the potential to dramatically transform healthcare.

Wirelessly connected medical devices increase patient mobility while giving healthcare professionals real-time access to patient data, throughout the hospital, and at the point of care.

Devices that were previously tied to a computer can now communicate wirelessly with one another using Bluetooth, ZigBee or over a hospital’s existing Wi-Fi network.

Today, for instance, an EMG machine used to detect neuromuscular abnormalities can wirelessly transmit critical-care data to other local devices or maintenance data back to the OEM.

This stream of information provides an optimal experience for users, while enabling medical device companies to improve product functionality.

Connected Medical Devices: Risk and Reward

Connected medical devices hold tremendous promise for medical device manufacturers. According to the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), network-enabled medical devices represent a potential revenue opportunity of $6.6 billion.

Medical OEMs, however, face particular technical challenges when it comes to the IoT and connected medical devices.

  1. While integrating sensors into a toaster can produce a handy consumer device, safely and securely integrating wireless connectivity into a new or existing medical device can be life-saving.
  2. Wireless connectivity also adds a new level of complexity to medical device design and development.The FDA recommends that medical OEMs take the following into consideration:
    • Selection of wireless technology
    • Quality of service
    • Coexistence
    • Security
    • Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)
  3. Design validation must also include risk analysis of the RF wireless communications and control functions.
  4. Determining the best wireless scheme also depends upon a device’s unique environment, as well as the required level of privacy support and cybersecurity.

It’s important to note that not all devices need to connect to the Internet; they may simply need to connect to a few other local devices. Different schemes also have varying password and encryption methods.

Improving the patient experience with wireless medical diagnostics
Improving the patient experience with wireless medical diagnostics

Connectivity Know-How

Through stringent device testing, design validation, and the verification methods necessary to meet regulatory requirements, EMS providers with wireless communications expertise can help medical OEMs overcome the unique challenges of wireless-connectivity integration.

With Creation’s long history of providing innovative design, manufacturing and test solutions for complex Communications products, over the last few years it’s been a rewarding experience for us to leverage this knowledge to help our Medical customers produce new devices quickly and reliably.

Safely and securely reducing time-to-market while reducing risk never felt healthier.

If you’d like more information about how we can help you with product development or manufacturing improvements for connected medical devices and M2M, please visit our website or let me know!

Risk and Mindshare (And Other Key Factors in OEM-EMS Relationships)

Take the time up front to ensure that there’s cultural and business alignment. Key to finding a good fit here are the concepts of mindshare and risk mitigation.

Because of factors like ever-increasing supply chain complexity and rapid technological advancement, I think it’s quite clear that today’s OEMs who are outsourcing their electronics manufacturing and product development need a partner with:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Appropriate technical expertise
  • Relevant industry experience
  • Strong quality and business systems
  • Teams in the right locations to support the business requirements

But over the course of my 30 years in the electronics industry, I’ve come to realize that there are other key factors in OEM-EMS relationships…if they’re going to have staying power.

Here are 3 of them.

3 Key Factors in OEM-EMS Relationships

  1. Both companies need a long-term partnership mindset. This is the only way to get past common hurdles in this industry that stem from a fundamental lack of trust and understanding. It’s also the only way to form partnerships that teach us and help us improve.
  2. As the service provider, the EMS company must always be seeking out strategies that will make their customers more competitive. At Creation, we are constantly looking to see what more we can do, other than “normal” EMS.
  3. Taking the time up front to ensure that there’s cultural and business alignment. Key to finding a good fit here are the concepts of mindshare and risk mitigation.
How do you identify the right balance between mindshare and risk in a business relationship?
How do you identify the right balance between mindshare and risk in a business relationship?

Why Risk and Mindshare?

In any important relationship, business or personal, would you rather be an afterthought or a focal point?

Personally, I’d rather know that my partner thinks and cares about me and my future.

I’d like to know that I’m a priority, and that my risk of getting hurt from carelessness or lack of consideration is at a minimum.

And it happens that our company, Creation Technologies, is in the business of ensuring our customers’ success by providing mindshare as a critical piece of the partnerships we build.

Watch the video below to learn more about how Creation’s take on risk and mindshare was highlighted to a broad business audience.

 

What are key factors for you in successful relationships, EMS, business, or otherwise? Feel free to share in the comments.

I love to talk about strategies to build relationships and help our customers succeed. Please contact me any time if you’d like to chat!

I Took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Creation's President and CEO in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Creation’s Executive Team raising funds and awareness for ALS IceBucketChallenge.

Last week, I accepted an Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and for which there is no current cure or treatment. About 2 in 100,000 people have ALS, which can strike anyone.

If you haven’t heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which went viral earlier this summer, accepting a challenge means that you commit to donating to the cause or having a bucket of ice water dumped on your head!

Like many people, I chose to do both.

And I didn’t take part alone.

It’s More Fun with Your Friends

The entire leadership team in Creation’s Toronto business unit decided to issue a personal challenge to me, as well as challenging some of our other Creation business units and teams.

https://www.youtu.be/87aBr0cuLJY?rel=0

 

It was only fitting that all of the members of our executive team in Vancouver that day accepted Toronto’s challenge along with me!

Many people from our Vancouver and Headquarters teams came out to watch. After all, seeing someone dump freezing water on their head is a lot of fun.

In exchange for the entertainment, we challenged everyone watching (in person and online) to get involved.

And so for every Creation person that takes the challenge, Creation Technologies will match your donation of $10.

And for every customer, supplier, friend, neighbour, and family-member you can convince to take the challenge along with you, Creation Technologies will match their donation of $10, too!

Did I mention that we’re also challenging our friends over at Birch Hill, our private equity partner? I can’t wait to see that video! Here’s ours:

https://www.youtu.be/sJg_bVdjtvM?rel=0

Making a Difference

I joined Creation this past April, and one of the things that stood out to me immediately was how people are truly friendly, helpful, and connected to each other and to our suppliers and customers. Our Making a Difference program, formalized in 2009, carries that spirit into the communities in which we live and work.

Our teams in all Creation business units are proud to be able to give back, and feel very fortunate to meet the amazing people and learn about the amazing programs that do so much to make the world a better place.

I’ve heard so many wonderful stories about how we’ve planted trees, painted gyms, made sandwiches, washed boats, built houses, dug latrines (yes, really), and shaved eyebrows.

And now in true Creation fashion, teams across our business units have come together for each other and for ALS, dumping frigid water on their heads in Ice Bucket Challenges.

You can see more of our videos, here on Creation’s YouTube Channel.

 

The goal of all non-profit organizations is to find impactful ways to raise awareness about critical issues.

I’d say that the ALS Association has done a tremendous job of that through the Ice Bucket Challenges.

I’d also say that I’m really lucky to have a team like mine.

Please take this opportunity to learn more about the fight to treat and cure ALS through research and advocacy at www.alsa.org.

 

IPC Government & Electronics Industry Leadership Conference in D.C.

Creation CEO Bhawnesh Mathur discusses the electronics industry with Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota with Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota
IPC’s IMPACT 2014: Creation Technologies CEO Bhawnesh Mathur discusses the electronics industry with Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota

I believe strongly that the electronics industry and EMS providers such as Creation Technologies have key roles to play in the ongoing development of technology leadership.

I also believe that as today’s business leaders, we have a responsibility to do what we can to create economic opportunity and growth in our communities.

One way we can foster this growth is through activism in the industry associations that bring together and give a voice to our varied perspectives and expertise. As such, I currently sit on the IPC Board of Directors and serve as Chairman of the IPC Government Relations Steering Committee.

IPC Government Relations Committee & IMPACT 2014

The mandate of the IPC Government Relations program is to support the industry by “promoting policies that foster economic growth, job creation and enhance international competitiveness”, addressing key issues like tax, trade and environmental technology policy.

To that end, on June 10 and 11, I had the pleasure of spending time with 16 other executives from IPC member-companies while participating in IMPACT 2014: IPC on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

The purpose of the conference was to share with senior American policymakers our collective perspective on current challenges and opportunities, and IPC was very successful in arranging a series of meetings to discuss specific initiatives that we believe will benefit our customers and strengthen the electronics industry.

These initiatives sparked thought-provoking discussion with all of the U.S. Government leaders with whom we met. It was an added pleasure to have the chance to meet with Members of Congress representing communities in which Creation has business units, specifically Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas, Congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky, Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota, and Congressman Brad Schneider of Illinois.

Bhawnesh joins IPC Government Relations Committee colleagues and IPC President and CEO John Mitchell in a light-hearted moment with Senator Mark Warner
Bhawnesh joins IPC Government Relations Committee colleagues and IPC President and CEO John Mitchell in a light-hearted moment with Senator Mark Warner
Congressman Brad Schneider of Illinois and Creation Technologies CEO Bhawnesh Mathur
Congressman Brad Schneider of Illinois and Creation Technologies CEO Bhawnesh Mathur

Some of the summit’s leading issues were:

Manufacturing and the economy: Support for domestic innovation and manufacturing through the creation and full funding of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), and passage of S. 1468/H.R. 2996, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (RAMI). The NNMI is a public-private partnership that draws on the resources of the federal government, local governments, universities, research institutes and industry to accelerate R&D of manufacturing technologies with commercial applications. IPC is working with its members and the government to influence the selection of the next round of R&D programs in areas such as flexible hybrid electronics and electronic packaging and reliability.

Environmental regulation: A bipartisan effort to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and promote recycling of manufacturing byproducts.

National Security: A modernized export control regime with clear and appropriate controls on printed boards designed for defense electronics.

You can find more information in a blog post on IPC’s website: Electronics Industry Leaders Meet with U.S. Policy Makers on Capitol Hill

National Network for Manufacturing Innovation

The proposal for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation is a compelling one.

Today we’re seeing manufacturing and technology innovation like never before. Entrepreneurship is one of Creation’s Core Values, and so it’s exciting to see our governments invest actively in leadership and development at both federal and local levels.

In Canada, we saw the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP) established in 2013 through the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). Through short-term financial support to select incubators and accelerators, CAIP aims to “harness innovation” of small- and medium-sized business, providing the venture capital, expertise and infrastructure to fast-track new products and services to market.

In the U.S., the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation program has a similar goal, with the proposed legislation aiming to build a nationwide manufacturing innovation network with unparalleled reach and impact. Formation of this network is key in enabling Americans and American companies to excel in the development and commercialization of new technologies. Because Creation is a full-service electronics manufacturer with a specialization in turnkey product design services, this is something especially close to our hearts.

IPC Executives, Bhawnesh and electronics industry colleagues on IPC Government Relations Committee meeting with Senator John Cornyn
IPC Executives, Bhawnesh and electronics industry colleagues on IPC Government Relations Committee meeting with Senator John Cornyn

Working Together to Build the Future

At Creation, we see firsthand how electronics and electronics manufacturing continue to play pivotal roles in job creation, economic growth and technological advancement.

It’s heartening to see all stakeholders – from investors to entrepreneurs to business leaders to government to academia – invested in the manufacturing and technology ecosystems, and working together for transformation.

Forums like IPC’s IMPACT are essential to this kind of holistic collaboration, and it’s a privilege for me to take part. This year, as always, I learned a great deal from my fellow committee members and the elected officials with whom we had very good discussion, and I’m appreciative of everyone’s candor and insight. Thank you also to the IPC team for making the conference possible and for bringing government and industry leaders together to create alignment on key issues.

I look forward to IPC’s IMPACT 2015 and the opportunities it will bring to build relationships, awareness, and a bright future for the electronics industry.

Hurricane Sandy & Modern Supply Chain Planning

Supply Chain Planning

Watching the disastrous events associated with Hurricane Sandy (aka ‘Frankenstorm’) reminded me that our supply chains are fragile entities that can easily be thrown into turmoil.

Sandy will undoubtedly cause numerous disruptions in all manner of supply chains. The obvious impacts are the loss of electricity and shutdown of transportation routes – airports, ports, roads, and rail services, all closed.

Simply put, the movement of goods on the East Coast will grind to a halt on Monday. Depending on the amount of damage incurred, it could be several days or perhaps weeks until goods begin flowing with a degree of normalcy.

This brings into focus the need to have contingency plans in place.

Preparedness & ‘Design for Flexibility’ in the Supply Chain

Risk Management and Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) are cornerstones of an effective supply chain strategy. Given the global footprint of a modern supply chain, disaster-planning becomes a crucial piece of the puzzle.

Events on the other side of the world can have an immediate impact and ripple effect on your supply chain.

In the electronics industry, we experienced two disastrous impacts in 2011 with the Japan earthquake, followed shortly after by the flooding in Thailand.

As we look to improve our BCPs, Country of Origin and Shipping Point are data elements that are growing in importance. They are key factors in supplier selection, and yet another reason for considering a Right-Shore sourcing strategy. It’s essential to minimize the overall risk of supply chain disruption while maintaining the ability to react quickly if disaster does occur.

Another key to minimizing risk in the modern supply chain is relationship-building. It’s absolutely imperative to partner with companies that you trust and respect, especially when disaster strikes. Over the course of my career I’ve heard of countless examples where a lack of visibility, open communication and commitment has crippled a supply chain…and in many of those instances, there wasn’t even a disaster involved.

No Time Like the Present

We recently had a surprise exercise during a leadership team meeting where we reacted to a mock disaster. Fortunately, we have a Business Continuity Plan in place which allowed us to calmly work through our established procedures.

However, it also served as a reminder that it needs to be kept up-to-date as pieces and people are always changing.

I was definitely thinking about our BCP as I watched the waters rush into the streets and subways of New York. My hope is for a speedy recovery for the people and areas that encountered Hurricane Sandy.

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