Today’s Q&A Wednesday is with Brad Heath, President of VirTex Assembly Services.
Q: Give us the elevator pitch for you company?
VirTex specializes in electronic manufacturing services that help our customers minimize cost, inventory levels and lead time, while increasing their supply chain flexibility. By combining our facilities in Texas and Mexico with our other global partners, we can reduce the lead times, logistics costs and communication headaches normally associated with global sourcing.
Q: How did the company get started? Who had the idea? Was there an “A Ha!” moment?
The company was started in 1999 as an electronics manufacturing outsourcing service. As such, we managed programs for our customers by buying and reselling excess capacity at our supplier partners. Over the following year, we acquired one of our suppliers and began in house manufacturing. When the economy slowed down, we had the realization that lead times and inventory levels had become more critical for our customers and that Asia was not the best and only answer for low cost labor. Over the next 18 months, we increased outsourced high labor content to our Asia partners, while opening a facility in Juarez, Mexico. The Mexico facility allows us to manage a North American supply chain with labor rates approaching Asia. This has resulted I lead time reductions of 30-50% for projects using this model. It has also allowed us to leverage existing local maquila facilities that have been hit by the down turn to utilize their capacity and offer new services to our customers.
I’ve always thought it was interesting, but understood we had something special when we were awarded Progressive Manufacturer of the Year for small to mid size businesses by Managing Automation magazine at this year’s Progressive Manufacturing Summit. To be awarded this honor among companies like, Ingersoll Rand, Cisco, and General Dynamics made me realize we were really doing something out of the ordinary.
Q: How has customer adoption been so far?
Customer adoption has been unbelievable. New projects awarded and built under this model have allowed us to not only survive the recession, but to exceed last year’s revenue numbers to date. We have a number of exciting opportunities with both start ups and established companies that I expect to create significant growth into the next few years. We have seen a big increase in customers wanting
Q: What sort of startups could you really enable?
We can enable most all electronic or electro-mechanical product startups who require early manufacturing involvement to ensure that their product can be produced at their targeted cost. The earlier we are involved in the process, the more help we can be. It is easier to design with a cost target in mind than to drive costs down to hit a cost target that has been overdesigned in terms of unnecessary functionality. We can also help to define cost reduction targets and roadmaps based on production ramps. This will allow startups to have realistic cost expectations when they meet with investment partners. We believe understanding your manufacturing strategy is as important as understanding your target market and product requirements.
Q: What can we expect to see in the future from your company?
VirTex is continuing to add products and services to automate what-if cost reduction scenarios. We are tailoring our business intelligence and manufacturing execution tools to the needs of a growing entrepreneurial marketplace. We see startups and the ability to effectively meet their needs as the next level of collaboration and are working on tools to enhance this. As more and more entrepreneurs embrace social networking, we will need increasingly efficient ways to communicate between teams in global locations. We are looking at ways to automate this collaboration using existing platforms. We are also working closer with more startups and developing more ways to reduce their startup costs and time to market.