Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of SMT Magazine
Viasystems Buys DDi Corporation
Viasystems is on the move, again. After a decade-long hiatus when the company went from financial roll-up artist in the 1990s to corporate villain, as their intense consolidation strategy came unglued with the dotcom bust in 2001 and the global shift of manufacturing to China, the company seems to be getting back on track. In the past year, they’ve bought Merix and now DDi Corporation, building what would seem to be a challenger to TTM’s dominance in military PCBs serving the U.S. market.
Is Viasystems reinitiating their plans baked back in the ‘90s to become the dominant industry player? If so, we should see a major Asian acquisition soon. From the press announcement, Viasystems stated, “The transaction allows Viasystems, already a leading market player in the automotive segment, to increase its market share in the technically-demanding military and aerospace market and the growing industrial and instrumentation market while broadening its customer base.” You can read more about the acquisition here.
New IPC President
John Mitchell has been hired to head up IPC, replacing Denny McGuirk who left the IPC last fall to run SEMI. After a six-month search, the IPC Board has settled on an outsider, skipping over several IPC veterans. Although I would have liked for IPC to pick one of our own to lead the organization, I’m sure the board had solid reasoning for the direction it took.
In any case, Mitchell comes to the IPC with some good credentials with stints at GE Aerospace, Alpine Electronics, and Bose Corporation. I’m sure he’ll do a good job for us. I don’t think he’ll have the decade of challenges that Denny had to work through, but it should be interesting nonetheless. I look forward to working with him. Read more about Mitchell’s appointment here.
Naka on China
Whenever I get an e-mail from Dr. Hayao Nakahara (Naka), he’s either telling me that what I’ve written is “bullshit nonsense” or he’s sharing insights from his latest adventure in China. In late March, he dropped me a note with some comments about his travels in China (which was a relief). As usual, he digs into the details as he visits PCB factories. His insights are priceless. We titled his latest piece To Understand China, You Have to Visit China. Here’s a quote from the report: “The direct labor cost of PCB manufacturing used to be 4%. Today, it’s about 8% of the ‘selling’ price, but 11% of the ‘manufacturing cost.’ China’s government makes it mandatory to increase pay by at least 13% each year. At this rate, the wages will double in four to five years if my math is correct.”
For anyone interested in what’s going on in China, take a few minutes to read Naka’s e-mail. Naka is an industry gem and I hope he never retires. Who’s going to fill his shoes?