Interview with Bestronics’ CEO Nat Mani
Silicon Valley-based Bestronics provides a wide range of manufacturing services, process engineering, test, design support, supply chain, reverse logistics, repair and failure analysis and program management services. Its customers include major original equipment manufacturers in communications, instrumentation, medical, industrial, wireless, energy and more. Its 145, 000 sq. ft campus boasts state-of-the-art cleanrooms, ISO Class 7, ESD flooring throughout the campus, High Temperature and ESS chambers, dedicated test lab, SMT manufacturing with the latest Panasonic lines, X-Ray, selective and wave soldering, through hole and mixed technology placement BGA Rework, cell-based box build and system integration bays. The company’s fully digital factory has lot control, traceability and a sophisticated shop floor management system. EMSNOW connected with Bestronics’ CEO Nat Mani recently to understand how this company has positioned itself for Industry 4.0.
EMSNOW: Bestronics has defined a very good space for itself with its “Built in the Valley” mission. Tell us more about this.
MANI: There’s a perception that Silicon Valley is no longer the nerve center of manufacturing. The facts tell a different story. Silicon Valley is by far the leading technology manufacturing region in the United States as measured by headcount – there are six times as many manufacturing personnel as the next closest manufacturing region, according to the Economic Development Department in City of San Jose. Silicon Valley leads the world in the design of leading-edge technology products and for many of the most advanced technologies. Direct proximity and same time zone access to product development teams is extremely important. Hardware technology development centers all struggle with managing complex configuration changes – particularly during development phase of the product life cycle. Furthermore, products critical to US infrastructure, such as power, energy and agriculture cannot be manufactured effectively offshore.
EMSNOW: I love your tagline “When your vision is too important to be pushed offshore.” What is behind this?
MANI: We live in exciting times. We’re in the evolution of another leap in advanced technology manufacturing. As before, Silicon Valley is leading the way. Over the past two decades this focus had wavered a bit as developers got caught up in the rush to offshore manufacturing without thinking through all the elements necessary for a successful launch. We see a lot of great product ideas in early stages, but there’s still a rush to go offshore in pursuit of high volume manufacturing. Distance and capability constrain development. It’s nearly always a better idea to develop and launch a project locally, work through the issues and then move offshore when manufacturing becomes turnkey and high volume. You learn things at each stage of the volume ramp. A lack of technical support and healthy back and forth between product developers and manufacturing experts during early stages reduces the product’s chance of success when it is pushed offshore too soon.
MANI: Consider the history of technology manufacturing in the valley. Products like disk drives and personal computers are closely associated with Silicon Valley. . After the first few years, it simply wasn’t possible to continue manufacturing those products here, based on the available workforce and the cost. So, contrary to commonly held opinion, these products did not anchor the manufacturing base here. However, for high mix assembly and/or technical complexity, it becomes extremely advantageous to manufacture locally and leverage the technology ecosystem that uniquely exists in the Silicon Valley.
At Bestronics we aggressively leverage this ecosystem on behalf of our customers, bringing in the highly specialized expertise of local partners. Our attention to detail and speed to market accordingly offers a greater chance of success than in other regions in the world.
EMSNOW: Silicon Valley is probably the most competitive region in the industry. What allows Bestronics to succeed there?
MANI: The eco-system for technology manufacturing here is unparalleled. There are technical resources and component suppliers available to address complex projects for end customers that demand perfection. Our core business philosophy on “never ever losing a customer” supports extreme focus on their requirements. Our location gives us access to application engineers from leading technology and equipment engineers along with an ability to address issues real time that is simply not possible in other geographies. We offer a complete range of engineering and manufacturing services including sophisticated clean room assembly and packaging capability that are very relevant to some leading edge companies that focus on the fast growing optical, data center, laser and autonomous driving.
EMSNOW: You have many years of international manufacturing experience. How have your past experiences help shape Bestronics?
MANI: While local manufacturing has its advantages, manufacturing has certainly become a global endeavor. Sophisticated customers realize that there is no one “region” that fits all. My leadership team and I have led and organized manufacturing operations all over the world. We have first-hand understanding of the strengths in each region, which enables us to have very candid, experienced-based conversations with our customer about the value we can (and can’t!) bring to their requirements. Customers appreciate this feedback. We’re able to validate their selection process and of course, describe where Bestronics can add real value.
EMSNOW: The EMS industry has changed dramatically from where it began decades ago, in terms of capabilities, services, geographic reach, and value proposition. What is the future for Bestronics?
MANI: We firmly believe that using a dynamic and practical collaborative approach to solving industry issues is the key towards forming long-trusted partnerships with our customers. Our success is rooted in open communication and very strong technical competence. Our team can relate very well to the challenges faced by our customers. We have faced the same challenges throughout our careers. We focus not only on enabling our customers to launch and manufacture sophisticated products, but to develop practical solutions that address mature product programs. Mature products often have many years left of market demand but need to be optimized from a supply chain design and re-engineered. We offer a “legacy transfer” program that enables OEMs to prolong the profitable life of these products by offloading manufacturing, supply chain and product life cycle management to us, so they can free up their most talented resources to work on newer projects.