So Long To The World’s Greatest PCB Design Salesman

Mike Wilson passes away

My great friend and business associate Mike Wilson passed away this week after a short illness. And now the world will be a little less interesting without Mike around. For the twenty five plus years I knew Mike, he was always up to something. Even in the past few years, two or three weeks seldom went by without my phone ringing and there was Mike on the end of the line saying something like, “There’s a guy we have to talk to?” or “What do you think about doing this?” Or something like that. Mike was always working on a plan, or coming up with a plan or setting up a plan and there is nothing he loved more than when a plan came together.

He and I worked together on numerous ventures sometimes we were successful and sometimes not but regardless it was always great fun working with him.

I have to say that I owe him a lot for the many great people he introduced me to over the years. I think there are hundreds of very interesting people or I daresay characters that I would have missed without Mike being my friend

He was also my “Carl Sagan” my patient explainer when it came to anything PCB design related. You see truth be known I’m a right brained English major and a complete fraud when it comes to technology. All I care about is if a company does something better than anyone else and if they have something that I can market and sell otherwise, I can’t be bothered. So when someone would call me up with some kind of new and unusual design tool they wanted me to help sell something that they claimed would be the “next great thing” I would always ask Mike to talk to them so that later he could translate, read simplify, or “Carl Sagan” for me in a language that even a non-tech English major could understand.

Years ago when a fell out with a boss I had and to get me out from his sight he ostracized me to go on the road and run that company’s design service bureaus Mike was my guide, he showed me the ropes right down to how to talk to designers. He would tell me to “Quit talking so fast those guys, these are designers and you talk like you do to your sales guys they’ll think you’re some kind of back slapping sales ass (& (_) flim-flam man and they’ll tune you out. Take it easy with them speak slowly and like you mean it and they’ll learn to respect you. I did and it worked…thanks Mike.

Mike was indeed the world’s greatest PCB design sales person. Man, he knew everyone out there in the design world and everyone knew him. Being a board sales guy all my life I was always amazed when Mike took me on design sales calls. I was used to selling boards where I would sit for hours waiting for the board buyer to finally come out and sit with me in the lobby. If I was really lucky I would get to go in one of those little rooms off the lobby with the buyer. With Mike selling design services it was a whole other world. I remember my first design sales call with him to Compaq in Texas where instead of having our meeting in the lobby we were met in the lobby by Mike’s contact and then quickly escorted up to the fifth floor of the building to a large conference room filled with Compaq design engineers, there must have been twenty or so of them all anxiously waiting for Mike to show up so they could start talking and debating the virtues of Cadence Vs. Mentor Vs. Pads Vs. Scicards for hours until Mike finally convinced them that he knew a guy who knew a guy who could do software conversions of Cadence design software to any other software and would soon had them eating out of his hand.

This guy always had “an idea” in fact many ideas… so many that when we worked together I had to limit him to two ideas a month instead of the ten or twenty he’d always be coming up with so that the rest of the organization could keep up with him.

Mike is the guy who coined the term “Total Concept” which is still used today to mean the design, fabrication and assembly of PCBs all by one company and as he loved to say “Our customers love it and our competitors hate it.”

And talk about being persistent. When he muckled on to an idea he would keep at it and get it done no matter what it took. He was also the first person I know to come up with the idea embedding PCB designers into OEMs’ sites. And the first guy to come up with having designs controlled in one of our design centers while our designers both direct and subs were embedded in various OEM sites.

But most of all Mike was fine man, a good man a man you could count on no matter what situation you were in. Mike was someone I always looked forward to talking to when I was stuck in a rut and needed to find a creative, nay very creative way out.

I miss will miss those early morning calls with Mike on the other end not even bothering to say “Hi” but rather jumping right in with his latest and greatest scheme with an excited , “Hey have I got a plan for you!”

My heart goes out to Mike’s family his wife Sharon, and children Marcy, Stacy and Michael as well as to all those like me who knew and worked with Mike over the years. Our electronics community particularly the design community is going to miss this kind and gentle soul, the great guy, this idea factory of a man….the world’s greatest PCB design salesman. So long Mike.

Its only common sense.

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