Though 2012 was marked with uncertainty, 2013 looks promising for US manufacturers – among them companies like Mass Design that are located in technology hubs where they draw on a highly educated workforce and serve niche customers nearby.
Mass Design (www.massdesign.com) produces high-reliability circuit boards used in military, medical, aerospace and instrumentation products as well as emerging sectors such as renewable energy.
For insight into the 2013 outlook, PCB Design 007 interviewed Bill Gately, Mass Design’s sales manager. See a reprint of his interview, An American PCB Manufacturer's Tale: http://massdesign.com/sites/default/files/article.pdf
While we expect some consumer electronics manufacturing to return to the US in 2013, for the most part, circuit boards for smart phones, computers and toasters are manufactured in Asia where plants hire thousands of workers to assemble millions of boards.
In contrast, Mass Design has fewer than 100 employees who can take a new product from design through prototype to fabrication and assembly – all under one roof. Its Nashua, New Hampshire location is a stone’s throw from Massachusetts’ Route 128 Technology Highway and Boston and Cambridge. Defense contractors and medical products manufacturers such as Raytheon, Fresenius and GE are within driving distance. Area colleges and universities deliver top engineering, manufacturing and technical talent. Likewise, the East Coast’s high-tech community promotes knowledge sharing and other intangible benefits.
Regarding past election uncertainty, Gately notes, “Since Paul Boduch and Tony Bourassa founded the company in l986, we’ve been through seven Presidential electoral cycles. We’ve heard arguments over which candidate would have been better for defense or healthcare – two technology-driven sectors in which Mass Design leads. Nonetheless, politics matter far less than how well we respond to technology, business and economic shifts in the US and worldwide.”
The emphasis on medical outcomes, cost and home monitoring offers potential with Mass Design participating in developing diagnostic and treatment equipment for Siemens, Baxter, GE, Tyco and others.
Regarding the military, Gately says, “In 2010, the US Cyber Command was created to coordinate our cyberspace resources and defend our information security environment. This emphasis on computer defense is unprecedented.”
Additionally, “Wind energy has shifted from ‘alternate’ to mainstream and we’re working on next-generation wind turbines,” says Gately. Mass Design manufactures multi-layer PCB boards large enough to handle massive amounts of current and power.
“We also serve customers who insist on manufacturing in the US for quicker turnaround, product confidence and environmental and safety standard assurances,” says Gately adding, “More broadly, outsourcing is turning around. Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced plans to manufacture one of its Mac lines in the US during an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams.” For more details please visit: Huffington Post.
December’s Atlantic magazine echoes Gately’s optimism. In The Insourcing Boom, Charles Fishman reports that GE is adding assembly lines at its Appliance Park in Louisville, KY noting, “U.S. labor productivity has continued its long march upward [and] …. You simply can’t save much money chasing wages anymore.”