No Main Point

Check out this exchange from Jabil’s recent quarterly conference call:

Alexander Blanton (Ingalls & Snyder analyst): Okay, second question is you mentioned earlier the possibility that some manufacturers initially might decide to move some things in-house. Do you have any examples of that in your business?

Timothy L. Main (Jabil CEO): I think the one that’s been well-publicized is the Nokia announcement three, four months ago. … Other than that, we don’t have any significant customer accounts that [inaudible] that type of move.

Blanton: Because recently NCR announced that they would in-source some ATM manufacturing and as I can determine, the reason they are doing that is so they can get some tax incentives from the State of Georgia that require a certain number of jobs to be created in the State of Georgia. And it really has nothing to do with the economics actually of in-sourcing. But there was some comment accompanying that in some of the local press that oh, there’s a trend toward in-sourcing. But from what you can tell, is there any such thing?

Main: I don’t think there’s any such thing. I might have mentioned NCR but I’m glad you brought it up. I forgot that that was a public statement that they made, so — you know, these OEMs will have certain drivers, different personalities, and opportunities like NCR has to receive significant tax benefits for an activity that maybe they think can be supported domestically within their own site. [If you take] a couple of data points, a $1 trillion dollar industry and say that’s a trend, I don’t think so.

Blanton: Yes, well, there was a bill in the State of Georgia that if you can create 1800 jobs or more, you can get some tax incentives. Well, the only way they could do that was to in-source this ATM manufacturing because they didn’t have enough people coming from Dayton to meet the 1800 bogey. This is not the way the press presented it but it’s obviously the case, so it had really nothing to do with lowering costs or anything like that.

Main: Right, well, the politics that we are in today are going to really be very negative towards outsourcing and that type of thing. I mean, that’s — let’s just accept that but recognize that the trend to out-source and the cost benefit of out-sourcing are so compelling that these temporary political statements I think will impact the temporary and the broader economic force of what compels OEMs to do what they do will prevail.

Blanton: Well, you are absolutely right. The CEO of NCR bragged that oh, we’re bringing jobs back from overseas when in reality, they are coming from South Carolina.

Egged on by a so-called analyst, Main essentially discounted any trend toward insourcing. But both men completely ignored the recent decision by Alcatel-Lucent to insource an estimated $2 billion worth of assembly. And it misses Ericsson’s announced purchase of certain Elcoteq operations. Moreover, it dismisses the role governments play not just in convincing OEMs to locate operations in their jurisdictions, but EMS companies as well.

In fact, just last year, the state of Florida, along with various local governments, granted almost $35 million in tax incentives to keep Jabil in St. Petersburg. How, exactly, is that any different than what Georgia is doing for NCR?

If Main has a point, it must be hidden under his hat.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( 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

One thought on “No Main Point

  1. Mike,
    Interesting take on that analyst exchange. Perhaps a better analysis for what is going on is what Charlie is calling ‘regionalization’. So companies are starting to re-examine their cross-hemispheric strategies and opt for building products in the same region they sell them.

    Thanks for posting the conversation.
    Jennifer Read
    Charlie Barnhart & Associates LLC

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