Value-added services are driving growth at Peerless Electronics, a distributor of electro-mechanical and interconnect products based in Bethpage, N.Y. Business is picking up in all customer segments, explains Dave Rome, chief marketing officer. The company’s investment in custom assembly work and other services such as bar coding and packaging are keys to capitalizing on today’s slower economic growth, he says.
Looking at connectors in particular, Rome points to Peerless’ connector assembly work, which many customers are taking advantage of due to downsizing at their own companies and the desire to focus on more complex manufacturing processes. The trend is a natural extension of the distributor’s increasing role as a service and solution provider, Rome adds.
“[Our value-added business] is growing tremendously,” he explains. “There are a lot of customers out there who are doing things they shouldn’t have to do. When we take over some of their assembly work, they can focus on the more complicated processes.”
Peerless Electronics took another step in the service direction recently with two new quality standard certifications. The company’s value-added staff is now certified to the MIL-STD-2000A for soldering electrical and electronic assemblies. Members of the staff also are CIS Certified IPC Specialists, meeting the J-STD-001 soldering certification.
IPC J-STD-001 has become particularly important, Rome says, as the leading authority for electronics assembly manufacturing. The standard describes materials, methods, and verification criteria for producing high-quality soldered interconnections. It emphasizes process control and sets industry consensus requirements for a broad range of electronic products.
Rome says the certifications illustrate Peerless’ ongoing effort to enhance and expand its service offering. In addition to assembly and soldering work, the distributor offers bar coding, packaging, and splicing services. It also builds circuit breaker panels and provides custom printing on a wide range of products.
“It’s all become much more complex,” Rome explains, noting that when he joined Peerless in 1978 it had two employees doing basic assembly work. Today, the distributor has nearly 20 employees and a host of high-tech machinery dedicated to value-added work.
Product Innovation, Online Strategies Rule
In addition to services, two other key trends rule the connector market: the desire for lighter, faster interconnect products and the demand for more online resources. Looking at product innovations, Rome points to the fiber optic market in particular, noting TE Connectivity’s ongoing updates to the VITA-66 product line.
TE expanded its VITA 66.1 series recently, for instance, introducing the new ruggedized optical backplane interconnect system designed for high-bandwidth applications such as high-definition video and images, as well as for computing applications that require optical infrastructure. TE says the new system is ideal for a wide range of industries and applications, including embedded computing, ruggedized military applications, commercial aerospace, and the geophysical industry.
Rome says the VITA 66 line is in strong demand, especially among defense and aerospace customers, which he says are faring better than most media reports indicate these days.
“People say it’s dead,” Rome says of the defense market. “It’s not dead. It’s not showing the growth potential of some other industries, but it’s not as dormant as some people say.”
Looking at online resources, Rome points to engineers’ desire for round-the-clock access to tools and services as a key driver. Orders come in 24 hours a day online, so distributors need to be prepared to give them access not only to online shopping programs, but also to product information and engineering resources such as schematic drawings and other specifications, he says. As a result, Peerless aims to become a one-stop shop for customers’ electromechanical and interconnect needs.
“That means building more of a user friendly site,” Rome explains, noting the company’s 2013 website revamp that included an updated online store and new site dedicated to the company’s value-added service business. “It’s an ongoing effort to keep that up. Every day it seems you’ve got something new to learn.”