NEOTech Interview with Curt Anderson, Vice President – Sales & Marketing
NEOTech combines the strengths of three leading contract manufacturers: NATEL, EPIC, and OnCore. With over 40 years of heritage in electronic manufacturing services, NEOTech focuses on high-complexity in low to medium volume, high mix products in the Aerospace and Defense, High-Tech Industrial, and Medical Device design and manufacturing field. We recently spoke with Vice President – Sales & Marketing Curt Anderson to find out how the company has been faring and what its plans are for growth in the coming years.
Curt, for readers who may be unfamiliar with NEOTech, can you please tell us about the company? What need was there in the industry that caused the company to originally be founded? How has it grown and evolved over the past 40+ years?
NEOTech is the result of a successful combination of three highly respected contract manufacturing companies seven years ago – NATEL, EPIC, and OnCore. Each of these three companies brought unique and cutting-edge skillsets to the NEOTech brand that allowed us to offer a dynamic and complete solution to customer’s needs. NATEL with itsindustry-leading expertise in microelectronics; EPIC as anaward-winning provider of PCBA manufacturing and box buildassemblies; and OnCore with its extensive experience in the electronics manufacturing services sector, focused on full system production, design services, and wire harness assemblies. Brought together under one conglomerate in 2015, NEOTech continues to mature as an industry-leading Tier 2 EMS provider, delivering concept-to-customer product solutions for high-tech OEMs.
This is what our customers are looking for: a one-stop service provider that can interact with their engineers as one of their team; design products that, from the start, are optimized for precision manufacturing and test; proactively manage the supply chain for each product to ensure efficiency and best overall value; and manufacture high-quality, high-reliability products that surpass their customers’ demands. Being successful at all this is a big reason NEOTech continues to grow.
What strengths does NEOTech provide to customers that makes the company stand out from competition?
A typical answer would be to highlight our strength in quality management that helps us stand out, which is true; however; there’s more than that. At NEOTech, our most important assetis our people. We work hard, from the CEO and President all the way to each–and–every factory floor worker to build a culture of quality, accountability, integrity, and teamwork. Every employee has an equal voice to raise their hand and shout out when they see a potential production issue. Any team member can stop the production line without hesitation when they see a problem. Most importantly, everyone is encouraged, and expected, to join the conversation to troubleshoot and identify a solution. Our customers know that quality products come from a team that works together to keep everyone accountable and encourages a sense of ownership of the products they are involved with building.
What industries does NEOTech serve? What technologies/products does NEOTech provide that best helps customers in each industry succeed?
We focus our quality management systems and certifications to three primary industries: Aerospace & Defense, Medical Device, and High-Tech Industrial. While each industry has its own unique requirements, we’ve mastered the ability to manage stringent product requirements from each industry and use that expertise in the other industries. Our experience and knowledge makes us experts at manufacturing the highest quality products for these three market segments. The vital and highest-of-technology products we have built and continue to build for some of this country’s most respected OEMs in all three industries speaks to our commitment to ensure our customers’ success.
Our commitment to excellence building our customers’products is where we shine. A recent example we are proud of is the ultra-complex manufacturing work we performed for Lithium Ion Battery back-up packs used on the International Space Station. We gratefully accepted the challenge to combine every internal resource and our collective knowledge to create a product that must operate at the highest level of reliability in one of the harshest environments: space. And, we delivered! We delivered a product that must work in a high radiation environment for over 20 years without repairs or servicing. This is the same dedication we give to all our customers’ products.
Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, many business suffered in 2021. How did NEOTech fare? Does 2022 look like it will continue being successful? What is your “secret to success”?
There is no doubt that 2020 and 2021 were difficult years due to COVID-19. Our overall revenue was impacted and as with the entire industry, we continue to struggle finding electronic components and other raw materials. However, what we are most sorry for are the difficulties, hardships, and losses so many people went through all over the globe. It doesn’t just make an individual feel small and helpless, but also an entire corporate organization wanting to do more to help. Our strategy was to protect our employees with enhanced health and safety protocols, which kept our factories running so we could continue to push out our customers’ products that keep our economy turning. By doing this we also continued to provide vital healthcare products to the medical industry, products that ensure and enhance our country’s military men and women’s safety worldwide as well as industrial products that do everything from keeping the lights on to heating our homes and businesses.
Business has certainly improved in 2022, and the forecast continues an uphill trend. The secret to our success is simple:the resiliency of our employees. It was hard, but even during the pandemic shut-downs, our workers did whatever it took to keep production moving out the door to our customers. The COVID-19 pandemic may have bruised NEOTech for a while; but the real outcome is that it made us stronger in the end. The entire organization came together to work through the situation and identify solutions to the new challenges the pandemic brought to our lives. We found a way and proved to our customers, and more importantly to ourselves, that together we can get through the toughest obstacles.
In your opinion, what are the most significant ways that the pandemic changed the way we do business today?
For NEOTech, gaining our customers’ trust and confidence is the absolute key to a successful relationship. The pandemic changed the way we do business by prioritizing that trust and confidence can and must be achieved remotely as well as in-person. While face-to-face onsite interaction is best for starting and maintaining a design and manufacturing partnership, the pandemic caused a need to modify the way business is done. Open, honest, and to-the-point communications on a regular basis are vital to build a business relationship virtually through video conferencing. We also implemented virtual tours of our facilities during customer meetings where our manufacturing teams utilized stable video cameras to walk-through our sites and see our technological capabilities and manufacturing capacity. These new methods proved successful and, in some instances, are still being used even now. The rules of engagement changed, helping us become more efficient in our day-to-day activity.
We understand that NEOTech has facilities in Mexico. How is business in Mexico for the company? Do you foresee it growing in the coming years?
Our NEOTech facilities in Mexico have been and continue to be a key factor to our success. The entire organization continues to be impressed and proud of the teams at our multiple Mexico facilities. During the pandemic, they set a new NEOTech standard for working as a team for continuous improvements. While maintaining necessary social distancing and other health/safety protocols, they still participated in multiple Kaizen events to improve processes. Their improvements were not only implemented in Mexico, but at all NEOTech facilities, thus keeping our commitment to our customers for continuous improvements. The excellent teams at our Mexico facilities play a vital role in leading everyone at NEOTech. More and more advanced product manufacturing is being sent there due to their capabilities, and there is every indication their production volume will continue to grow each year. Mexico has given us a significant option for customers looking to nearshore product in North America.
Cybersecurity is an issue that is growing in importance as we become more and more dependent upon digital lifestyles. What is NEOTech doing in this area to best protect its customers?
We’ve always made sure to stay current with new and advanced cybersecurity methods. But as protecting our data and our customers’ data continues to be our highest priority, we’ve stepped it up even more. Within the past nine months, NEOTech brought in multiple IT security specialists that are top in the field. Processes and protocols have been implemented to enhance our IT security. We have a roadmap in place to aggressively implement our IT security to CMMC compliance, which is vital to all our customers, but especially our Aerospace & Defense customers.
What would you like our readers in the electronics manufacturing industry to most know about NEOTech?
To our customers and industry partners, NEOTech is not just a contract manufacturing services provider, we’re a valued partner in achieving success with your products and your customers. Our entire organization is committed to working as an extension of your team, and we value your products like they are our own. Our engineering and design teams include the expertise to ensure your product designs are optimized for quality and reliable manufacturing. Our supply chain teams are experts at proactively managing your product bill of materials through the entire value chain to locate the best source of components and materials while avoiding the pitfalls of counterfeit suppliers. Additionally, our manufacturing teams have decades of high-tech experience at quality production and are empowered to shout out if they see problems as well as be the voice of identifying solutions. The culture of quality and accountability we’ve created and maintain promises a first-class product for your customers.