EMSNOW Executive Interview: Stephen P. DeFalco, CEO Creation Technologies
Stephen DeFalco joined Creation Technologies in September 2019 as Chairman & Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining Creation Technologies, Stephen was a Partner at Lindsay Goldberg Private Equity. Before that, Stephen served as President and CEO of Crane Currency, the primary supplier of currency paper and anti-counterfeiting technology to the U.S. Government and over 70 countries globally. Previously, he held CEO roles at MDS (NYSE), a global life sciences company, Senseonics (NYSE) a diabetes care company where he is still Chairman, and PathoGenetix. Stephen was also President of PerkinElmer Instruments, a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company, and a product development leader at IBM.
Stephen holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, an MS in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. Stephen has served on the Board of Directors of Big Ass Solutions, Crane Currency, Senseonics, MDS, PathoGenetix, and BioProcessors. He also serves on the MIT Sloan School Americas Executive Board and has recently joined the MIT Alumni Association Board or Directors. We caught up with Stephen to learn more about his vision for Creation Technologies.
EMSNOW: Since COVID-19 is top of mind for most of our readers, we should start with an update on Creation Technologies and its facilities. Since you have a lot of medical manufacturing, you must have essential status. Are your facilities open, and what infection control measures are in place?
Great question. As you suggest, the health and safety of our employees and their families is our priority. We have learned a lot over the past several months, as we have over 3,200 employees in 10 manufacturing facilities that operate in nine different jurisdictions in four countries. The first thing you learn is humility, as its clear nobody has a monopoly on good ideas. While we quickly established a steering committee at the corporate level, I have been amazed at how the entire Creation community has rallied and generated innovative ideas to keep our employees safe and healthy. Every idea that surfaced we quickly rolled out globally. That included changes to our shifts, employee entrances/exits/locker rooms, cleaning techniques, and redesigned workspaces to name a few. As you stated, Creation has many customers involved in essential services and critical infrastructure and we needed to ensure a steady supply of product to support their efforts in fighting this global pandemic.
EMSNOW: Your background is in private equity and medical OEM. How has that experience influenced your strategic leadership of Creation Technologies?
My broad background has been in leading global technology companies, more recently with private equity backed investors. It has influenced my strategic leadership at Creation by making me constantly aware that customer service excellence is the cornerstone of any strategy and that begins with an investment in people who are supported with the right technology and processes that allow them to do amazing things. We are privileged at Creation to have shareholders with a long-term investment view and share our vision for the company.
EMSNOW: What do you see as Creation Tech’s unique strengths and opportunities?
Creation Technologies is a global EMS company that focus on serving the high-reliability markets of Aerospace & Defense, Medical, and Tech Industrials. We now have over 3,000 people in the USA, Canada, Mexico, and China. Our strengths are our people and a culture that relentlessly focuses on customer service and operational excellence. Our success is measured by our many longstanding and loyal customers.
EMSNOW: The recent acquisition – during a pandemic, mind you – of Applied Technical Services (ATS) was announced a couple of weeks ago. Tell us about the benefits that combination will offer to Creation Technology customers.
ATS is a like-minded company with a strong commitment to servicing customers with outstanding quality. We have similar cultures and share a passion for adding value to our customers that has won both companies customer service awards. This combination enhances our presence in the Pacific Northwest and broadens our capabilities in Mexico by giving us a second site in Hermosillo.
EMSNOW: How do you see the EMS industry evolving and what are the particular challenges for companies the size of Creation Technologies?
We believe our size is our strength and advantage—we have the scale of a global company and the agility to serve the medium-volume, high-reliability markets. Electronics making products smarter is permeating every part of the economy. Creation Technologies’ vision is to keep our customers ahead of that trend by partnering with them and providing a differentiated amount of service on their most demanding applications.
EMSNOW: Do you see the industry changing in response to the COVID-19 crisis? Will supply chains become more regional and resilient? How is Creation Tech positioned to respond, once we get to the other side of the health issues.
All industries will learn from this experience. Throughout the crisis thus far, we have maintained high levels of on-time delivery in large part because our supply chain and the team that manages it have been very resilient. My personal goal is to ensure Creation Technologies’ employees remain healthy and the company emerges from the pandemic stronger and with greater capabilities to serve our customers.
EMSNOW: What are the strengths of the EMS industry that will help the Americas’ manufacturing sector recover from the economic effects of COVID-19?
This industry has always distinguished itself with innovation. I believe this innovative spirit will be what powers the recovery post-Covid-19. The need to bring smarter devices to the market—faster, better, and at lower cost—is something that will still be here after this crisis is resolved. It’s what we do best.
EMSNOW: What are the weaknesses of the EMS industry in general, and do you see a major reshuffling of the players in the next five years?
The medium-volume, high-reliability segment of the industry is very fragmented. It will be difficult for smaller players to keep up with the technology investments required to stay competitive in an increasingly global world. I don’t expect a major reshuffling, but I do think there will be some consolidation.
EMSNOW: On a lighter note, what have you been doing during the COVID-19 shutdown? Any new hobbies? Favorite Netflix binges?
My ski season got cut short, so I’ve been trying to spin more and cycle as the weather improves. I enjoyed the third season of Westworld and am now binging Picard and Person of Interest. My family has gotten into the habit of playing board games again…old favorites like Monopoly and Risk and some new games like Ticket to Ride and Wingspan.
EMSNOW: Do you have anything else you would like to say to our readers?
I encourage them all to personally stay safe and healthy during this period. We are privileged to participate in this critical industry, which is vital to both fighting this pandemic and eventually powering the rebuilding of the global economy. It’s important we take care of each other.