IMPACT Interview: Joe O’Neil, OAA Ventures


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Around lunchtime on Wednesday, the second full day, I was able to sit with Joe O’Neil, OAA Ventures. As a veteran of many IMPACT meetings, his was a good perspective of the event.

Patty Goldman: Hi, Joe. It’s good to see you. I understand you have a consulting firm now. Were you representing a particular company here at IMPACT?

Joe O’Neil: No, we had the entire IPC board of directors here for a board meeting on Monday. We have board members now from Europe, Asia—all over the world. They all came into town and then some of us stayed to support the IMPACT event and go out and kind of spread the word and build a foundation.

In prior years, we’ve been in different parts of the legislative cycle and had a specific set of bills or language where we could come here and have very definitive asks. I think we were successful then because in prior years it was much like what we’re doing in this visit, which is foundational; we are getting our name in front of the freshman senators or congressmen. There are some things that are in play right now. Conflict minerals are in play. Healthcare is very much in play. Tax reform is maybe a little bit further out. But those are things that affect our membership and our voice needs to be in the mix.

Goldman: Might as well get in the beginning, right?

O’Neil: Yes. When there is something important that comes up, we were here supporting them, and now it’s their time to support us when we call; they kind of know who we are. Through the year—I remember Capitol Hill Days 15 years ago or more—we’ve gone from circuit boards that no one could understand to bringing samples and giving them things that they looked at and touched. Now, with that education, I think they are beginning to understand the electronics industry. They understand that our membership ranges from major defense contractors and OEMs, the brand names throughout the world, to the electronic manufacturing services and printed circuit board fabricators to the laminate and chemicals, and all the way through the supply chain.

They have recognition of that and they understand that those 4,000 member companies have a million employees just in the United States, and our training programs train hundreds of thousands of people a year. They see the value of that. For the most part, they are supportive, and hopefully that’s going  to be reflected in legislation that comes up.

Goldman: I suppose it helps that everything you use any more has electronics in it.

O’Neil: Absolutely. Including the listening devices throughout this town (laughs).

Goldman: So how did you find this morning’s sessions? I know there were several meetings.

O’Neil: We had several senate meetings. In past years, we would have maybe one or two senate meetings and a lot over on the congressional side, since we have members in pretty much every district in the United States. The senate meetings were a little harder to get—a little higher level. This morning alone, I think we’ve had four or five senators and then we got to go over and meet with the rules-setting committee over on the congressional side. And that was very interesting to see how every bill that comes up goes through this small 12-person group.

It was very different to hear that bills come out of committee, but that little body can add or subtract anything they want before it goes to the floor. They had some interesting perspective in terms of how Washington is and how this is going to play itself out. It’s a lot of change. It’s still early. The talk of the town is still, you know, “the first hundred days” kind of references. We’ve heard everything from people who are giving the President an A+ to F- and below.

To read the full version of this interview which appeared in the July 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.

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