Many paths for building relationships
By Terry Costlow, IPC online editor
Jul 04, 2012
As K & F Electronics turns 40, IPC is playing an increasingly important role in its future.
Business relationships often start out slowly, building over time as parties learn more and become comfortable with their partners. That was definitely the case for Richard Kincaid, who's gained more and more benefits from IPC membership over his career
at a successful family business, K&F Electronics.
As K&F celebrates its 40th anniversary, Kincaid is handing the reins to his son, beginning the third generation of management. While Richard Kincaid is moving away from day-to-day management, he's remaining active in IPC activities. That's a marked change from when he started.
"If you don't use what's available from the IPC, it won't work for you. I learned that because, unfortunately, I didn't use it in my beginning years in this industry," Kincaid said.
Kincaid started attending IPC meetings more than 30 years ago. In those early years, he met a few people, making it more comfortable. His circle gradually expanded as he attended more regularly. As he networked, conversations eventually evolved from chit chat to business arrangements.
"I met people I thought were my competition, but they weren't competitors because we were in different niches. We established links with other shops and now we do work for them."
At trade shows, he'd sometimes walk the floor with people he met. Occasionally, ambling on a show floor brought big benefits. More than once, Kincaid found that his friends were buying new equipment, which meant they were getting rid of other equipment.
"When they were buying something, I'd say I could use the one they wanted to sell. They had some of the money to buy a new one, and I had a new piece of equipment so I could expand without spending a lot of money," Kincaid said.
Continuously upgrading equipment is one of the things that's helped the company survive for four decades. K&F was founded in 1972 by Earl Kincaid. Earl, Richard's father, had worked at Remington Rand and at Methode under Bill McGinley, who was an important figure in the IPC's early days.
Richard became a partner in the mid-1980s. He was able to build the company significantly, taking revenues from a few hundred thousand to around $3.2 million today. That growth stands in contrast to the demise of nine circuit board shops in the nearby region. When nearby companies fold, it creates big problems for their competitors.
"Every year one of them would go out. When we heard someone was in trouble, we tightened our belt because we knew they'd be low-balling prices to get business," Kincaid said. "We picked up some of their bookings. We now sell to 35–40 accounts in California, where we never had any business before."
Over the past couple years, Kincaid has gotten involved in standards committees, focusing on the nascent printed electronics industry. That participation has changed his view of standards.
"In the past, I thought it was no big deal to put together a standard," Kincaid said. "Joining a committee really opened my eyes. We did a lot of work that was very intense. I didn't do a lot, mostly listening and saying ‘aye' for votes. But I learned a lot, and there are some areas where I found I can provide a lot of input."
Now that he's seen how the committees work, he encourages others to participate. He plans to attend more meetings as he transfers control of the company to his son.
"People are afraid to join because they don't know much about a topic. But even if they provide one piece of input during the discussions that go on over the course of a few meetings, it can be very valuable," Kincaid said.
While the sense of satisfaction from giving back to the industry is a key factor in his participation, he also noted that attending IPC functions is an aid to business success. One of the big challenges for any business is to find the key people who can make a business decision. Those managers often attend IPC functions.
"When you go to dinners and golf outings, you often talk to the right people," Kincaid said.
Take the next opportunity to meet colleagues, friends and business acquaintances at the IPC Executive Summit at IPC Midwest. Learn more at www.IPCMidwestshow.org.