IPC President and CEO Dr. John Mitchell: COVID-19 Global Industry Update



Audio Summary:

On March 20, Dr. John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, spoke with I-Connect007 publisher Barry Matties in an exclusive phone interview with updates on COVID-19 related current events in the manufacturing industry.

In this information-packed 14-minute audio interview, Dr. Mitchell shares key takeaways from Friday’s IPC Executive Forum conference call. The call, with over 100 industry executives in attendance, had just recently concluded when we spoke with Dr. Mitchell. He shared that the call provided both a briefing and an information-sharing opportunity for those attending.

Dr. Mitchell also outlined the resources in place at IPC for guidance from governmental agencies ranging from global to U.S. state and local information. Mitchell and Matties discuss what lessons are being learned so far from the COVID-related disruptions, what concerns IPC the most at this time, and what the recovery is likely to look like.

I-Connect007 continues to deliver original reporting and coverage of the electronics design, electronics manufacturing, and contract manufacturing industries, including up-to-date information from the companies, associations, and supply chains globally. Find the latest news and information at www.iconnect007.com and on our new topic bulletin board, “Industry Leaders Speak Out: Responses to COVID-19 Outbreak” found here.

Read the transcribed audio interview:

Barry Matties: Today we’re talking to John Mitchell, President and CEO of IPC. John, with the COVID-19 outbreak, the IPC obviously is taking an active role. Why don’t you give our listeners an update as to what’s going on please?

John Mitchell: Yes, so as you know, IPC’s membership encompasses the entire world of electronics manufacturing everywhere. Every region is slightly different and yet there are common threads throughout. So part of what we’re doing is trying to make sure people have and are going to the proper sources to make sure that they have the latest information. What happens in California may be drastically different than what’s going on in Germany or maybe drastically different than what’s going a little bit North of them in Oregon, or could be one city is different than another. And so we’re trying to make sure that they are referencing the right sources there.
So today, actually, just a couple of hours ago, we held an industry call. We called it our Executive Forum on COVID-19 in which we shared an update of what’s going on in those governments. So we walked through Asia, Europe, the U.S. A lot of the callers since we did it on this time zone were US-based. And then we did a brief economic update as well about some of the economic implications of what’s going on with the virus. Our chief economist, Shawn DuBravac did that. He will actually be doing another webinar on that on Monday in a more in-depth. We cut it down about five minutes just so people could see what other people are doing.
We’ve been serving the members and bringing that data to say, “Okay, what are you hearing from your suppliers? What’s the supply chain delay? Is that changing now?” And we were even serving them in doing some polling on this in this forum we just had a couple of hours ago as well. These are basically CEOs, presidents of the various organizations around and we had over a hundred on the call today, which was great. And we’ll be doing that call weekly on Wednesdays going forward.
We had the governor of California in the governor of New York last night and this morning basically say stay indoors, right? Time to be shut in, time to get through this except for only nonessential industries, should be going there. So we yesterday we sent letters to every governor across all 50 states saying, “Hey, there needs to be some clarity about what is essential and what’s not,” because the state can kind of determine that, the federal government does not or has not yet. We also sent it to those same governing bodies as well as the heads of counties as well as the associations for mayors as well to say, “Hey look, the electronics industry is critical to solving this. The things that we’re building are in some ways...” Sometimes they don’t even realize that they’re tied to it. So they’re helping with these devices, infrastructure, defense, whatever it may be, communications pieces.

Mitchell: And so we’re encouraging them to say, “You guys are part of that exception.” And so we’ve been communicating that as well. So those are just a few things that we’ve been doing on behalf of the membership to help solve that.

Matties: What sort of questions, John were coming out of the meeting today from the executives?

Mitchell: This is a peer-to-peer kind of discussion. So a lot of them are saying... So we had some companies that were based in China and so they’re kind of on the back end of this, right? Right now we’re having no domestically reported new cases of COVID-19 in China. And that’s great news and things are starting to get back to a normal-ish over there. And so the experience of China where people were sharing that, they said, “Oh well, you had these three levels. What was level one, what was level two, what was level three?” And the one example was, “Hey, level one was education, level two was okay, we did temperature sensing and things like that. Level three we went all the way to masks, temperature sensing and social distancing.”
So that was one of the questions that was going on. There were questions about shipping. We had one person share an example. They said, “Hey, I was trying to drop ship something from Europe to the West Coast of the U.S.,” and they were getting quoted 10x the price. And so it’s creating an awareness. But those are the kinds of questions and some of it was reporting, “How are you handling, if a patient becomes ill, what do you do? How have you handled that?” And these are people that haven’t experienced it yet, so it’s a great chance for them to take this information back to their companies and say, “Okay, here’s what this company did. Or here’s what that company did. How do we want to form our policies around that?”

Matties: Great. Now you said this is going to be an ongoing weekly call.

Mitchell: Yes. Well, basically planning to be weekly, at least through April. We’ll see if we need to lengthen it beyond that.

Matties: All right, great. And this is open to all members or what’s the protocol there?

Mitchell: We’ve been inviting the executives of member companies. It’s not a free for all. It’s really an invitation thing for the executives because we’re trying to keep it to decision-makers so that we don’t have everybody and their brother. It would be very difficult to suddenly we had 200,000 people get on the phone. It’s much more manageable when it’s a couple of hundred. And even that, it’s a little bit of a challenge.

Matties: Now you mentioned that there was an economic summary there. What was that summary? What’s the telling there?

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