This Is Our Time!

Yes, this is our time. I am talking to all those domestic PCB fab houses who feel they have gotten the short end of the stick for the past thirty years. Who feel that their customers have sold them out to the cheap labor companies…and taken their technology with them. Who have been harmed by a less than stellar support from the IPC. Who feel they have been abandoned by their suppliers who are more interested in selling to Asia than to them. Who feel short changed because even American proprietary business has been shipped to Asia by less than genuine PCBA customers. Who sensed that they were about to be washed down the drain while no one cared. And who have felt lost and alone for decades. 

Fear not my friends, your time has come.

The American electronics industry has finally realized the worth of buying PCBs domestically. I think “slapped in the face” would be a better way to put it.

Once they realized that they could not count on Asia for all of their needs, our customers have come to realize that there is value in buying from the shop across the street, or across the country as long as it is within our borders.

Now finally our domestic market has come to realize and appreciate the value of buying domestically on all fronts.

The last almost three years have shown everyone in America the true value of buying that thirty dollar DVD player and what that cheaply priced bargain actually cost us in the long run.

The Pandemic did nothing if not show us the true danger of taking apart our own domestic infrastructure which made us the country that prides itself on its independence dependent on other economies and other countries who are at best our frenemies.

We learned the hard way that we could not even make life saving medical devices without relying on other countries. We realized that all of this global supply chain management we had grown to love and take advantage of was truly just that, a chain that could be snapped by the vulnerability of its weakest link.

Yes, we had suffered the reality of just how vulnerable we are and now we are in the process of relearning the importance of being self-sufficient.

But now comes the good part. Now comes the learning moment we have all been waiting for.

First of all, it looks like our government is coming to the rescue of the electronics industry, pledging to invest billions – yes, that is a “B” at the beginning of that word – into the electronics industry. And yes, right now to the PCB shops in our country. As we speak our government is working with IPC to figure out the best way to substantially boost the PCB industry in our country. Can you just imagine what that can mean for all of us? Imagine the automation we could install in each PCB facility if we have the funding?

Our customers are looking for us to build their boards. They are trying to buy domestically as much as possible. They now feel that it is a distinct advantage for them to have a PCB shop or two or three in this country at this time. They not only want their NPI (New Product Introduction) to be handled domestically, but they are also finding ways to help us to build their production as well. Stay tuned, this can only get better.

Our vendors and suppliers are trying to find ways to help our shops become more efficient. They are realizing that they have to support the domestic shops if they are going to survive. Yes, they can make more money in Asia (short money at least), but the war in Ukraine has taught them a serious lesson on how vulnerable they are without the benefit of U.S. structure and support.

Our own IPC besides working side by side with the federal government to make sure incoming funds are used as intended to beef up all of our domestic PCB fab houses, have also turned their attention to attracting young people to our industry by providing education and training programs and reaching out to universities and trade schools in a concerted attempt to help our companies recruit people who are not as old as me to the industry.

Overall, here is a feeling of optimism, a feeling of hope that the best is yet to come. Yes, the American PCB industry appears to be on the rise to not only surviving but thriving as well. There is truly an honest feeling in the air that the best is yet to come, and that yes, this is our time!  It’s only common sense.