Integrated Manufacturing Solutions: an EMS, ODM, CM, and OEM!

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Matties: From the beginning, you have an intimate knowledge of their strategies and their product development.

Thompson: Exactly. They’ve flown in numerous times. We understand where they’re going and what’s driving this product to the market.

Matties: What’s your background, Robbin?

Thompson: Well, I’ve been doing this about 20-something years.

Matties: Your title here is business development. When you say you’ve been doing this, do you mean business development?

I’ve been working in the electronics field for quite a while. I started off working for Power One on the semiconductor side of it. I went and worked with Taiyo Yuden and then started working in various CMs, building up, learning every aspect of the business and working from department to department because I wanted to understand and I just didn't want to be working, say, in accounting. I wanted to know, “Okay this goes into operations. This goes on the production floor.” I wanted to understand everything.

Matties: That really gives you a great depth of knowledge to draw from.

Thompson: Yeah, a broad aspect of everything about the business. From there I just started my own business. I actually had my own CM for a while. We had a customer that we were contracting with, a medical device company, which we now build a lot here. From there, when they closed that division, Chris, the owner here at IMS, came to me and said, “I really could use your help. Why don't you come on board and let's build this up together?” It’s been really great working with him because he’s allowed me to have the freedom to go visit my customers, to go to the various trade shows and really kind of build up IMS, because we both have the same ideas of where we want to take this, and that’s very helpful.

Matties: You were talking about the number of employees and how it kind of exploded. Tell us a little bit about that.

Thompson: When I first got here almost two years ago, we had 15, and we had two lines not really working full capacity. Within three months, we had to order a couple more lines. We ordered some really nice pick and place machines. We went from two lines to five lines within the past year, and we went from 15 employees to 75 within a three-month period.


Matties: Wow, you’re good for the economy and good for the world, right?

Thompson: San Diego loves us.

Matties: Yeah, that’s a great success story. That’s rapid growth. How do you get that much growth and manage it effectively?

Thompson: People, our employees, are key. We have some really great core people here that have worked in this industry in the CM side for a number of years and are well known in the industry in this area. They heard about our growth and they approached us. We felt that they’d be a great asset to our team. We went through our ISO audits. We’re now going through our ISO 13485 and then going back into the ISO 2015. We brought in a really great team of quality managers here just to make sure that all of our documentation is transparent and up to date and up to speed so we don't fall behind on that and create a better business environment. What’s great about IMS is that employees want to come here and they want to work here.


Matties: It’s nice when you have that environment.

Thompson: It is. It’s a comfortable feeling and a family feeling. This Saturday, we’re having our company summer picnic down at Mission Bay. We do that every year, and we try to do a barbecue for them every few months. It’s really great that the employees are so passionate about coming to work.

Matties: When customers come in, what sort of challenges or demands do they put on you guys?

Thompson: Oh, the same thing every time.

Matties: Price?

Thompson: Price, but more so, “How fast can I get it?” Everything, especially with a lot of the product development is, “I really want to get this to market.” Especially now is the time of year they want to push it to the Christmas market. Lead time is a big key for us here. When they ask for quotes from our PMs, our customers want quotes within three days. We work day and night to try to build and help them.

Matties: Pricing is an issue though, too?

Thompson: It is, and I’m really good with working with the customers on that. Of course, like everybody, we do have our markups. But if it’s going to affect the customer from moving their product further along, and I see what this product can be and what they’re looking at, I will work with them on the pricing just to make sure that we get moving forward with them. For example, if I'm going to build 100 boards for them, but in six months they’re going to want 1,000 or 2,000.

Matties: When you say “build the boards,” are you actually producing their boards or do you contract and manage that process for them as well?

Thompson: We contract out, yes.


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