In the quiet of the post-Christmas vacation break Kent Alder officially retired as CEO of TTM.
The news should be bigger than it is. It’s been years since the head of a $1 billion a year US-based PCB manufacturer stepped down. In fact, there probably have been only two: Andy Leitz, who left Hadco following its acquisition in 2000 by Sanmina, and James Mills, who was ousted from Viasystems after the tech recession in 2001.
Alder rose to prominence on the wave of the massive influx of outside investment groups that circled the industry in the late 1990s and early 2000. He was president of Pacific Circuits, a Redmond, WA-based board shop owned by Thayer Capital Partners and Brockway Moran, which then acquired Power Circuits in Santa Ana, CA, and renamed the merged entities TTM, with Alder as the head. On Alder’s watch, TTM grew from $125 million in 1999 to about $1.35 million in 2013. Along the way, TTM acquired Merix and OPC, and extending its offerings from that of a traditional regional quickturn PCB supplier to a full-service multinational production house with nearly 20,000 employees. And he did so because TTM managed to consistently do that one thing that has been so difficult for some many of its competitors: turn consistent profits.
It remains to be seen what kind of leader Tom Edman, Alder’s successor, will be. He has an impeccable resume: Yale, Wharton Business School, and 17 years of executive experience at Applied Materials before being tapped for the TTM job. He showed his chops by beating out at least one longtime internal candidate for the post.
But for now, we acknowledge Alder’s role as the preeminent PCB executive of the past decade, and wish him the best in his retirement.