What is Titan doing?
That question has been on my mind for years, perhaps a bit more so now that the company has indicated plans to bundle its EMS and part of its bare board manufacturing units into a single, public company.
As those who have followed the company through the years know, Titan is the antithesis of focused. The parent company, Titan Global Holdings, has cobbled together a host of seemingly distressed assets into an incoherent industrial albatross.
A few years ago, a group of venture capitalists (then called Ventures National Inc.) bought the ex Tyco PWB plant in Fremont, CA, and set up shop. In 2002, they purchased EMC, an Amesbury, MA-based PWB plant known for its rigid-flex capabilities, for $500,000. Neither shop was a financial world-beater, but from the outside it appeared Titan was buying low and hoping for an industry comeback.
Then the weirdness started. Titan went through what seemed to be a new president a month as it grappled with the nuances of the disintegrating PWB market. It also started snatching up businesses in outside industries. In a totally unrelated move in 2005, Titan purchased Oblio Telecom, a distributor of phone cards. It also invested in companies in the energy market (for example, the Appalachian Oil Co.).
Last fall, it branched into the EMS market, buying Nexus Nano, the former EMS divison of component distributor Jaco Electronics. (For its part, Nexus, which was reportedly having cash flow problems, had just undergone some financial maneuvers with MassTech EMS, yet another distressed EMS company.)
To keep everything straight, the combo of Titan PCB East, Titan PCB West and Nexus group was renamed Titan Electronics and Homeland Security Division.
In its latest move, Titan said it would form a new unit consisting of Titan PCB East (the former EMC), and Titan Nexus Inc. (aka Neo EMS aka Nexus Nano). The units would be renamed Neo Electronics and spunout as a separate public company.
What’s more, Titan PCB West (the Fremont bare board shop) would be renamed Titan Electronics Inc., and spun out as well (for some bizarre reason, the CEO apparently believes that factory makes assemblies, not bare boards. Oh well.).
I’m not going to pretend I understand all this, although my guess would be the management feels it must keep increasing the topline, even at the expense of profits, lest they be lynched by angry shareholders.
But it says here, it can only benefit those customers Titan’s various electronics companies have left if the management sees fit to aggressively, and at long last, find a buyer who knows which end of a circuit board is up.