Hunter Technology on Design Operations and Business Strategies


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Immediately following IPC APEX EXPO 2015, I paid a visit to Hunter Technology’s facility in Milpitas, California, where I had the opportunity to interview Ian Grover, vice president of design engineering, and Chris Alessio, vice president of sales and programs. We discussed Hunter’s design operations as well as the company’s overall business strategy.

kelly_dack_interviewing.jpgKelly Dack: Ian, thank you for having me. Through serendipity, I’ve been teaching a Certified Interconnect Designer class for IPC, and two of your designers happened to be in the class. So I spent the last few days with Zev Gross and Jeff Davidson, who went through the two-day process, and all the weeks of study, and passed with flying colors. We welcome them to the world of CID and congratulate them and Hunter for sponsoring them.

Ian Grover: Thank you very much and thanks for stopping by. I’ve heard good things about your course and your class. They came back with smiles on their faces, and I've already photocopied their certificates and placed them on the wall already!

Dack: Ian, can you tell us about your design department? How are you set up, and how do you satisfy your customer needs?

Grover: Hunter has eight designers on staff. We use Cadence Allegro as well as PADS and Mentor Graphics design tools when needed. All of our designers are senior designers and at the end of the day, we want to basically insert ourselves into a value-add model for other companies. In some cases, the customer may have a design team already, and we take their overflow work and just support them that way. Or we engage with a customer that has a product or an idea and a schematic and therefore needs design services and outsourcing. So we serve both those models and we do it very successfully with about 30 customers currently.

Dack: What is your customer base? Do you service the world or mostly the U.S.?

Grover: I wouldn't say the world. I would say we're very much a national organization, since I have designers not only in California but also on the East Coast. In the San Francisco Bay Area, where, as Chris Alessio always says, there are 9,000 companies in a 30-mile radius, it's pretty easy to pick and choose customers. But on the East Coast we have a design team that gives us a wider reach, such as the networking and telecom companies from Boston, etc. It's a good place to have designers in technical areas, and maybe college and university areas across the country where there's a hotbed for technology.

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Dack: What would you cite as the main reason that your customers outsource design to Hunter?

Grover: Two things: Number one, experience. We do well over 150 different types of designs a year, so from a library standpoint, from a knowledge perspective, with regard to industry and technology, we've seen it all. Customers can come into a meeting and we can say, "Yes, been there, done that." We've already done that with XYZ Company, or we've already used that technology and therefore we have a pool of canned designs and canned technology to pull from.

And number two, we have an EMS engine backing up the customer. That's the most powerful aspect. We can come in and close the deal by saying, “Not only can we design your design very robustly and design it for manufacturing, we’ll have it endorsed and looked at by all the different facets of our company: front-end engineering, design for manufacturability engineers, quality, and test engineering.” So, when the board is designed it's not just a prototype; it's a ready for volume manufacturing product. That way, the customer can quickly say, "I've built my protos, let's go to manufacturing immediately," minimizing the amount of iteration and design change.

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