Catching up with FineLine Global

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Dan: And now, one of the reasons you and I are talking is that you are beginning an initiative in North America. What is your plan?

Eli: We will establish a network of sales agents and representatives and offer our services in North America. We are confident that, with our supply base, technical expertise and business processes, we can offer added value to customers in North America. We want to be a leading provider of PCBs in North America, as we are in Europe. We feel strongly that North America can only profit from an additional competitor that brings a strong supply base with strong service capabilities. The printed circuit board market is a mature market. We don't think there is anyone that needs a PCB and can't source it without FineLine. But we do offer a good service and value added.

Dan: And I assume that you can provide your customers with just about all technologies and services, is that correct?

Eli: Yes of course, that’s what we pride ourselves on. There are a couple of things we do not cover now and one of those is of course ITAR and Mil-Spec, but our goal will be to collaborate with some U.S. shops and bring them on as vendors so that we can complete our North American PCB solutions offering. But overall, I estimate that the market that FineLine will address in North America is similar to the rest of the world.  The overall North American market demand might be very different than the demand in China, but the portion of the market that we address as FineLine (or similar companies) is the same.

Dan: What do you think is the single most important factor that has made FineLine Global so successful?

Eli: I think that most important is our company culture which is based on openness and trust. We encourage our teams to be bold and welcome challenges and be creative. We give our subsidiaries extensive freedom to practice business in the way it is done locally. This allows us to have less bureaucracy, be more flexible, have a shorter decision process, and adapt quicker to market demand. We always look for vendors who share a similar culture and managing a relationship built on trust extends our flexibility as well. Beyond that, FineLine has:

  • True local service for customers
  • Excellent technology expertise, based on manufacturing veterans
  • Excellent IT infrastructure that can support global operations with ease of sharing information

We see our association (ownership) with Fastprint as another unique advantage. People mistakenly think that being owned by a manufacturer, we are mainly representing and selling them. This is not the case. Fastprint is not competing on the entire range of our demand and even where they are, FineLine has full flexibility to source from whichever vendor suits the needs. However this relationship with a leading manufacturer opens many doors to us in terms of industry relationships, trust and respect, and insight to the PCB industry in China and its future trends.

Dan: What types of companies as customers are you best suited to work for?

Eli: All companies that need a partner to manage a supply chain in PCB and do not want to incur the cost of internal resources that will be required to do so. This includes all aspects of the supplier relationship and they are extensive, considering the nature of PCBs. They are built to spec and an essential part of any electronics design. Failure may have a cost much higher than the cost of the PCB itself. Customers that have a PCB demand that varies (in terms of technology, batch size, lead time) will need to engage multiple suppliers and doing it internally will be much more difficult. These will see more value in the services FineLine provides.

Dan: Back to your entry into the North American market. Are there any challenges you anticipate?

Eli: The main challenge in starting up, in any new market, is building the first level trust, getting a chance to prove ourselves. I believe that once we start, we can demonstrate our capability and commitment. The best proof is that we maintain business relationships with our customers for many years. In 2016, over 60% of our organic growth (revenue $) came from our long-term customers. 

Dan: Where do you want to be in five years?

Eli: We would like to continue to grow as we have since our inception. The PCB market is mature and growing at a slow rate (3%-5%, depending on who is forecasting). Competition will intensify. Being excellent in everything we do is the only way to continue and prosper. A five-year forecast is a prophecy in our dynamic world. FineLine is focused on perfecting its service, being attentive to its customers and adapting to the changes.

Dan: What do you consider good service?

Eli: Good service to me is when we meet or exceed our customers' expectations. A better service is one that opens new opportunities for the customers and enables them to improve their performance and succeed in their own. Different customers are looking for different things, depending on their internal resources, their strategy, and their experience with similar services. Our challenge is to understand the customer's fundamental needs and try and present it with the best PCB sourcing strategy we can.

Dan: Well, Eli, as we wrap this up do you have any last comments?

Eli: Just that we look forward to entering the North American market and going to work with those customers, helping them with all their PCB needs.

Dan: Well said. Thanks for spending the time with me today.

Eli: My pleasure Dan. I enjoyed it.


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