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During the recent SMTA Atlanta show, I sat down for an interview with Barbara Bracken, sales manager for Texas for the ICAPE Group. Barbara explained why ICAPE is much more than a PCB broker; the company now owns its own assembly facility in the U.S. and can assembly boards in the U.S. or China.
Andy Shaughnessy: Nice to meet you, Barbara. Can you give us some background on ICAPE and what you do?
Barbara Bracken: ICAPE’s headquarters are in France and the majority of the factories we partner with are in China, but we do have partnerships with factories in other countries as well. We partner with factories that manufacture circuit boards and custom technical parts. We have a large office in China with over 200 direct employees that support all the sales teams around the world. We’ve also somewhat recently acquired a quick-turn prototype assembly house in Indianapolis.
Shaughnessy: So, you’re not an old-school board broker. You build your own boards too.
Bracken: I hate to use the tern “broker” because it can have a negative connotation to it, and we’re a different model than just a typical broker. Our relationships with our factories are as partners. As our partner, our China team works closely with and in the factories making sure our projects are going as planned. That makes us different than the typical broker who sends out the job to a factory where they’re probably just another someone buying from them. We work closely with our factories and have long-term relationships that affords us a better price, place in production and line of communication. We’re involved every step. We’re not a direct factory or a true broker. We’re like a trading company, but a step above.
Shaughnessy: Tell us about the new shop you acquired in Indiana.
Bracken: We recently acquired DIVSYS, a company that used to go by the name Diversified Systems International, and they are a quick-turn, prototype house for assembly. They also have a division that can do ITAR boards, and they’re a great addition to the family. It gives our customers the opportunity to keep some projects here in the US using their domestic suppliers and for ITAR specific projects as well as some technology customers prefer to keep domestic. Adding DIVSYS now gives us domestic and overseas capabilities.
Shaughnessy: ITAR is increasingly important. That makes a lot of sense.
Bracken: Yes, it’s extremely important.
Shaughnessy: Is there a sweet spot as far as technology for the company? What’s your typical job, or is there even such a thing?
Bracken: I don’t think there is a typical job for us as each one varies a lot. We do both boards and custom parts so basically anything that would go on a board or a board may go into we can cover from start to finish. Each one has unique qualities and challenges. Same thing for our sweet spot. It’s hard to say or ever try to pinpoint one area because we do offer so much.
Shaughnessy: And so now you do fabrication and assembly?
Bracken: We do. We have about 25 circuit board factories and several contract manufacturers in China we work with as well as the new addition of DIVSYS.
Shaughnessy: That’s good. I remember meeting one of the ICAPE representatives at this same show a few years ago, and some of the American fabricators were joking about putting a hit out on him (laughs).
Shaughnessy: Is there anything else you want to mention?
Bracken: I think that the proof is in the pudding. We’re a good company with support in China to handle everything. We also have strong relationships with all of our suppliers and factories. We continue to build partnerships, and hopefully, the future keeps getting better.
Shaughnessy: Thanks, Barbara.
Bracken: Thank you, Andy. I appreciate it.