EMS Executive Interview: Craig Rupp, President and COO Inovar
EMSNOW: Inovar just celebrated its 20th anniversary. How would you say the company has evolved in the past two decades?
CRAIG RUPP: Inovar is purpose driven. Over the last several years our capabilities have continuously improved. We’ve seen significant changes in the types of customers we serve and the complexity of the assemblies we build. It’s not an exaggeration to say we build the most complex circuit card assemblies in the world. We’ve added new service offerings including our design engineering service. The one thing that hasn’t changed is Inovar’s purpose. We exist as an organization to improve the lives of our customers, their customers and our growing Inovar family. We continually invest in our organization, but our biggest investments are in the people that make up the Inovar family.
EMSNOW: When you say Tier 1 Capabilities with Regional customer service, what does that mean?
We have created factories, procured equipment, developed processes and implemented training programs that are equivalent to any tier 1 EMS company. We have also created the geographical footprint that customers want. Our customers need a partner with factories they can travel to in one day. Our facilities in Logan, Utah and Tecate, Mexico are just a few hours away from our customers. We make it easy and convenient for our customers to be in our factories when they want to be.
EMSNOW: You say your location in Logan and connection to Utah State’s engineering department adds to your strategic advantage for customers. I noticed most of your executive team graduated from Utah State. How does that help your customers exactly?
Utah State is a research university and they invest heavily in their engineering school. We have many engineering interns that work in our facility. We hire many graduates from Utah State. The University’s has a close relationship with Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL). SDL serves many of the same customers that we do. There are synergistic opportunities there. USU focuses on developing technologies that can be commercialized. Inovar will be a partner in the development of the required manufacturing technologies. Our new facility will be located on USU’s Innovation Campus. We announced our groundbreaking in June of last year and our transition to the new facility will begin in May of this year. We will be moving from 68K to 120k sf. That’s a lot of additional capacity for us.
EMSNOW: How do you work with distribution? Are they an important part of your ecosystem, or are you working directly with component suppliers?
Distribution is a very important part of our model. We have relationships with all the major distribution companies. 35-40% of our annual spend is through distribution. The biggest advantages for us are all their custom programs; like MRP share, consignment, in-plant stores. These programs become even more vital to us during a constrained market, like the one we’re in now. If we didn’t have those programs in place, we would be in a lot of trouble.
EMSNOW: What about Industry 4.0?
I believe Inovar is ahead of the curve in this area; we’ve been working on an automated factory for eight or nine years now. We have a web based supplier and customer portal. Our data gathering systems are already in place. Data reporting is largely automated. We believe strongly in measurement. What you measure gets better. This has helped us be more competitive in a very cost sensitive market place. Inovar’s internal intranet gives our customers real time access to process data and test yield data.
EMSNOW: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about Inovar?
Inovar has developed a strong design engineering service. We have hired all disciplines of design engineers. We do the traditional design of products and product development. We also provide continuation or value engineering. Many of our customers rely on Inovar to recommend and manage design changes to improve yields, address obsolescence or improve manufacturability or testability. Our DES team also designs and builds many of the test systems that are used to test our customer’s product. I’d also like to mention our green initiatives. Protecting the environment is important to Inovar. We have a robust recycling program. We’re investing in energy efficient equipment and processes as we transition into our new facility.