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Nolan Johnson talks with new Naprotek CEO Daniel Everitt about Naprotek’s value-add for customers, the market dynamics, factory automation, and more.
Nolan Johnson: Daniel, the last time I spoke with Naprotek, there was someone other than you in the CEO seat. This is news.
Daniel Everitt: Absolutely. The founder, Najat Badriyeh, started the business 25 years ago. Interestingly, she was working in industry at the time, and she saw something even then, where the business she worked for wasn’t supporting the customers in their high mix, low volume, high level of customization from prototype through early NPI. She went out on her own, taking the risk to build a company that would support those kinds of requirements, with an emphasis on custom-engineered electronics products. It’s more than just “putting tops on bottoms,” like you see in traditional EMS. She spent 25 years perfecting that model and providing a service level to key customers across the various high-reliability segments of defense, space, medical, precision semiconductor solutions, and semiconductor capital, as well as complex industrial tech solutions. She deliberately avoided supporting commercial good-enough, simplistic products that would generally transition to an offshore manufacturer. The idea was to stay pure to the model, and support the highly regulated markets. It has been my pleasure to take the reins of the business as Najat has transitioned to our Board of Directors.
Johnson: That includes quite a bit of detailed interaction and service, I would have to think.
Everitt: It stops being a labor and supply chain arbitrage game, and it’s more about the complexity of manufacturing and developing the processes to support those custom solutions for our customers. Arguably, Naprotek is providing a technology and service solution to our customer rather than a traditional manufacturing service.
Johnson: There’s a lot of discussion about becoming both more nimble and more complex in the North American market segment. It seems like you’re already well-positioned there. What’s your assessment of the market?
Everitt: The U.S. supply chain has had a deeply diminished capability in hybrid technologies. If you want to mix microelectronics and SMT to achieve a hybrid manufacturing typology, there are very limited supply chain options in the U.S. for that. Couple that with the U.S. taking a stronger stance on certain technologies that include optics, silicon photonics, artificial intelligence, and RF technologies; many of these technologies are now more closely controlled under current regulation, so it has created this momentum in the high-reliability markets to bring some of that capability back into the U.S. and invest in those capabilities.
Johnson: That seems to me like you’re going a little bit against the prevailing winds in North America.
Everitt: On its face, it may sound that way. I would offer as a hypothesis that many of the U.S. manufacturers have driven manufacturing to Asia—and China, in particular—and have broadly lost the ability to innovate. Look at what the DoD is directly investing into companies like Intel and IBM to build industrial capacity in advanced microelectronics.
That is very real, happening now, with funding. There is a reason for that. Certain technologies, as we integrate these technologies together, become controlled, and, as a result, difficult to export. If your only solution today is to go to China for certain technologies, you may not have a manufacturing solution to bring your product to the marketplace. As the Naprotek team looks at both organic and acquisitive growth, we’re going to look for those capabilities that add strength in those targeted areas—advanced microelectronics, hybrid manufacturing, photonics, and RF technologies—allowing us to take our purpose-built model, add that strength of capability, and offer it to the marketplace.
To read this entire conversation, which appeared in the October 2021 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.