Milwaukee Electronics: Screaming-Fast in Pursuit of 'Perfect Products'


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Warner: What other opportunities and challenges do you anticipate in the next year or so?

Stoehr: An opportunity I see is to expand the Screaming Circuits model into standard EMS products. So many customers these days have unpredictable demand because technology is changing so fast. That level of high flexibility that customers want appears to be underserved.

In regards to challenges, I would say attracting good engineering talent is a challenge. This industry is not as attractive as it once was, and fresh talent is hard to come by. It’s out there, it’s just a lot more effort to find it than it used to be.

Warner: How about trends you notice?

Stoehr: Three things come to mind. The first thing is reshoring, especially in Mexico. We’ve really seen a spike in increased interest in using Mexico over Asia. Port closures last year, logistics complexity, and other factors are making Mexico more attractive.

The second trend we’re seeing is how complex the compliance issues have become today. There are increasing regulatory issues that are making international sales more complex and costly. We expect this trend to continue, and there’s a larger burden on companies to provide much more data on compliance, while most companies have trimmed or eliminated their documentation and support departments over the last 10 years.

Finally, in the prototype market, the maker movement is an exciting one for us. Basically, it’s turning daytime engineers into night time entrepreneurs of hardware startups of all kinds. The maker movement, along with the open source hardware movement, has lowered the barriers to entry. Add crowd-funding websites Kickstarter.com and CrowdSupply.com, and we’re seeing a resurgence of the electronics hardware startup industry in this country.

A lot of these companies are moving so fast, they only build a few hundred or few thousand boards before changing designs. Traditional manufacturers don’t want that business, but it fits the Screaming Circuits model perfectly. It’s also refreshing to see more being invented, designed and built in this country—that’s something we should all be excited about.

Warner: Thank you very much, Jered.

Stoehr: Thank you.

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