Mike’s Main Man

He wasn’t yesterday, and he might not be tomorrow, but for today, Tim Main is my hero.

The Jabil chief today became the first major electronics executive to publicly rebuke Foxconn, the world’s largest EMS company. At its annual shareholders meeting, Main asserted that Foxconn has “some very abusive policies, employment policies. And I think their business will begin to suffer because of the way they treated their employees.”

OK, so it doesn’t rise to the level of Occupy Shenzhen, but for our little tightly wound industry, this ranks as an outburst. And there is perhaps some risk involved in making such statements. Jabil has been taking on a bigger helping of Apple’s pie, with Main today suggesting the visionaries behind the iPad and iPhone now represent more than 10% of the contract assembler’s revenue. Foxconn’s success has been tied in so small part too that of Apple’s and vice versa. For Apple to cut the cord, or even let it fray a bit, would run directly against the many years of staunch support for its China CM.

Then again, perhaps Jabil’s gains are coming at Foxconn’s expense, and Apple is basing its procurement decisions not just on cost and execution but also other, more humane factors.

Or so we can hope.

Way to go, Tim.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (pcea.net). He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow