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Vardya: We started in a facility in Libertyville, Illinois, which is a suburb of Chicago. Our facilities have moved a couple of different times. Currently we're in a 52,000 square-foot facility in West Chicago.
Matties: You've been at this for 27 years; 27 years ago there were almost 3,000 circuit board fabricators in the United States. Today there are somewhere around 280. Do you see any growth in the numbers of circuit shops or have we just surrendered the volume production to overseas?
Vardya: The volume production has gone overseas. I think we will continue to see more shops shut down as time goes on. The reason for that is that the technology demands continuous investment and a lot of companies, given what technologies they're working on, really aren't capable of making those investments. As a result, over time, the number of shops will continue to decline.
Matties: You guys, at 27 years old, understand what that kind of longevity takes and what it requires. When you look at your investments, what sort of allocations do you make, or how do you prioritize your investments?
Vardya: There are a couple of things. Not only do we have to worry about capital equipment investments, but we also need to worry about human capital investments, so we're continuously investing in both. It's basically based on customer requirements, so we are continuously working with our customers, trying to understand where the gaps in the market are versus the gaps in our ability, and what is going on at our facility in order to prioritize capital investments.
Matties: What technology are you looking at? You probably already have the direct imaging systems in place and that sort of thing.
Vardya: We do have automated auto exposure systems, where you have camera alignment and things like that, but we don't have direct imaging, so that is something that we are currently looking at. We are also looking at some better drilling technology. Those are two key areas that we're working on today.
Matties: When you look at better drilling technology, are you looking at laser technology or mechanical?
Vardya: We're looking at both laser and some better mechanical capabilities, too. We are seeing controlled depth requirements that require mechanical drilling, but require significantly tighter controls than what we're capable of today, so we are continuing to look at that also.
Matties: It looks like you are doing well and you're still here, and your sales sound solid. What do you see in the coming year or two?
Vardya: We see continued growth. We see growth in the RF/microwave space, for sure. We also see growing requirements in the medical sector, and that might be more for our flex and rigid-flex types of applications, but we're seeing that. Then the last area that we're seeing a fair amount of growth in right now is LED-related. LEDs are taking off and we see more and more requirements for that technology.
Matties: Do you have your eye on wearable electronics at all?
Vardya: We have not spent a lot of time on that, but I believe that's one of the next frontiers that we're going to start looking at. One of the things to be careful about wearables is that in the long-term, wearables are going to be very high-volume, so, again, that marketplace is going to start to be Asia-dominated. For us, our claim to fame is specializing in things that are going to stay in North America and that are niche marketplaces. Those are the places where we, as a company our size, are going to be successful.
Matties: Anaya, thank you so much for spending time with us today.
Vardya: You're welcome. Thanks a lot, Barry.