Sola Lonely

Sanmina-SCI’s model hasn’t been, shall we say, ideal over the years.

The company, which pre-2000 was considered one of the best-run PWB and EMS companies around, got caught up in the M&A fever, buying SCI and Hadco, and since has struggled to stay profitable even in industry upswings. More often than not, Sanmina has had to take restructuring costs as it tries to rationalize its capacity.

So it was interesting when, during its fiscal third-quarter analysts conference call (on which it announced another $16 million to $18 million in restructuring costs), chairman and chief executive Jure Sola described how the company plans to fill its unused printed circuit board capacity.

As PCD&F reported earlier this week, Sanmina’s printed circuit board fabrication plants in Asia are at 85% to 90% capacity, while in North America one plant (San Jose*) is over 90% and another (Owego, NY**) is at 55% to 60%.

Sola’s take is that the company needs to compete on technology, not labor. But a leading PWB analyst and friend told me yesterday the market has become one in which volume alone will decide the winners.

Sanmina’s PCB sales are likely to near $400 million this year, which is up significantly from 2009 but still far behind the industry’s biggest players. If my friend is right, it suggests Sanmina, again, will be left in the cold.

*I think.
**I also think.

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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