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At this year’s DesignCon, Nolan Johnson stops to visit with Bruce Mahler, who details the exciting changes happening with Ohmega and Ticer after being acquired by Quantic, and what that means for the market opportunity of OhmegaPly and TCR.
Nolan Johnson: Bruce, let’s talk about your paper here at DesignCon. You spoke on embedded resistive products.
Bruce Mahler: Embedded resistive products have been around a long time. OhmegaPly has been around for 45 years and Ticer TCR has been around for 20 years. These are not new technologies. With the acquisition of Ohmega by Quantic, and the subsequent acquisition of Ticer by Quantic, suddenly you have a thin film resistive company in the combined Ohmega, TCR. We look at the market, the industry, and the areas of application; there are many more applications that are utilizing OhmegaPly and, to some degree TCR, than most people know. But the question is, where is that market opportunity? What’s going on? We’ve come to realize that most of it is education. It’s a matter of informing the design community of what’s available in terms of technical tools.
Our product is a technology, but it’s a tool as an assist to the design engineer to improve his printed circuit board for whatever those reasons are that it needs to improve, whether it’s better electrical performance, better reliability, or better economics or densification. That designer can’t utilize a product if he doesn’t know what’s available and the benefits of that product. The paper is conceived to give an update of where the technology is today. Where is thin film technologies of today? Where are we today in application? Where are we today in manufacturing and supply? One of the issues was always, “You have a great product, but if we really commit to you, are you going to be around tomorrow? You have one manufacturing site in California. When the earthquake hits and you float into the ocean, how are you going to supply us?”
Suddenly we’re a multi facility company. Suddenly we have a production site in Culver City, California, and one in Connecticut. The fact that there’s dual manufacturing of dual products, which in many ways complement each other, and many applications can be dual spec’d and dual sourced, gives a certain level of assurance to the end user, that to design us in, they know that they’re going to have that continuity of support. The commitment of being part of a much bigger organization is also pretty significant.
Are you familiar with BEI Precision, by the way? They’re a big company in Arkansas. They just announced they were acquired by Arcline, by Quantic today. They’re joining the Quantic family, as of a couple hours ago. I think they have 250 employees. That just doubled the size of Quantic, over 500 people and growing. We’ll have more announcements soon.
Johnson: Quantic has been busy.
Mahler: Quantic Electronics was conceived and developed to focus on specialty components, passive, and other components. Everything is based on growth. Organic internal growth, which means you as a company. You, Ohmega. You, Ticer as part of Ohmega. You grow every year. Grow 15–20% a year. Now, what are we going to do? What do you need to go ahead and do that? What do you need in terms of support—financial, technical, market—to go ahead and grow your technology and your business? Growth of sales and profitability go hand in hand.
Complementary to that is, what can we do in Quantic to grow organically by external acquisition? That means to continuously acquire companies that complement the Quantic charter, which is specialty components. We have an Evans Capacitor, but they just bought UTC Capacitor in California a month ago. They have the microwave companies like TRM Microwave, and Corry and PMI, and now this new acquisition which is in the optical encoder and encoder-based motion control systems realm. They acquired Ohmega as a specialty resistive material manufacturer. What can we do to grow? Acquire Ticer, our competitor, because that’s part of the growth portfolio of Quantic. Grow internally or externally but grow. The idea is to make Quantic Electronics the best manufacturing company out there. To grow the best, to be the best—to get the best in terms of people and products. That’s what the Quantic name is all about.
Johnson: I can see how this starts to tie to your paper.
Mahler: Part of that is the support we’re doing now. We tell the designers, “Hey, this is state of the art. This is where we are today. Here’s our technology, this plated OhmegaPly. Here’s the sputtered TCR.” We’re complimentary technologies that each has its niche, with Ticer TCR doing 1,000 ohms per square, Ohmega doing 10 ohms per square. Then we both do other ones that would complement each other, but here’s all the opportunities. Here are the applications that were currently involved with. It gets back to the tool for the designer. We’re working with this resistive blank slate that allows the designer to design resistors for many types of applications, which we’ve always talked about.
If I’m a designer and I say, “I need termination resistors, let me go look at the catalog. Let me find out what’s available. Now I need a filter. Let me see, I need to buy a filter and to see what’s available. Okay, now I need a resistor for a Wilkerson power divider, so I need to dig up what’s available. I have a new application. I need a heater. Let me find a heater. I need to find out where I can get that.”
But guess what? All those applications I just mentioned to you could be done with the same piece of resistive material. It’s all a matter of design. That material is multifunctional. It could be many different things. It all depends on what the designer has a need to do in their design. That is the power in that as things evolve so does the applications for the resistive foil? Don’t forget, we talked about how Ohmega has been around for 45 years, and Ticer for 20 years. What happens? As the years go on, there are new technology developments—new, integrated circuits, new packaging, and electronic needs and requirements.
But during that same time, people come and say, “I have a new design, and what I need is some sort of resistive material. Oh, this stuff again. I used these for high-speed ecologic termination of my IC, but you know what? Now I have a need for going ahead and doing one that’s an embedded microfluidic heater. Oh, wait, I can use it in here, just like I used it as a terminator. Oh, now I have a power divider. I’m getting into a 5G technology, I’m at 77 gigahertz and I have a little divider network. I remember that Ohmega stuff I used in digital electronics 20 years ago, so it’s the same basic material.” Evolving applications using the same type of material. That’s pretty powerful.
Johnson: So how do you educate the industry on all the different ways to use your tool?
Mahler: Well, I think part of it is by giving papers, “Okay, industry. Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s an update. This is what’s available.” Now, the problem is that it’s a limited audience.
Mahler: We are expanding our marketing and sales by adding Lisa Wilhelm as our Director of Sales and Marketing. She’s a seasoned processional who has the experience in the PCB industry. The acquisition of Ticer provided us more people with wonderful talents: Tom Sleasman, who was the director of sales for Ticer, is now the sales and marketing manager of Ohmega Ticer. Having him with his deep knowledge of marketing techniques, along with Lisa, helps us significantly to become more active in both the sales and marketing efforts. That’s first. Second, we are becoming more aggressive in our advertising. We have a LinkedIn page for the Ohmega Ticer products. We’re working on more advertising.
Third, we had more online advertising for shows. We did it for DesignCon, and we’re doing the same for PCB West. In fact, we’re one of the sponsors of PCB West. I never thought we’d ever do that, we’re only a little company, but to us it’s expanding our presence. The other thing is Quantic, which has set up an infrastructure of corporate people who do corporate marketing and branding. They’re looking at setting up program people, hiring people with specific OEMs in mind who will be focused on that particular OEM and make sure they’re aware of the Quantic family of products. There is the exchange of information within the business units of Quantic, where we all work with many of the same companies so we kind of help each other. It’s a matter of organizing it.
So, “Hey, I’m in this program at this OEM, and here are my contacts. They have a need for your kind of products, whether you’re a capacitor product, a resistor product, a microwave component or whatever it may be.” We’re actually, on the business unit level, Ohmega Ticer, increasing advertising and outreach, digitally going out and modeling and updating our website, LinkedIn, and other forms of advertising, including PCB007, and others. Also, we’re making more of a presence at the trade shows. On a corporate Quantic level, it’s having people who specifically are tasked with helping generate interest, getting people to meet the key contacts, organizing those contacts, increasing sales, and making the presence felt that way as well. It’s been pretty effective.
Johnson: It’s nice to have additional help, isn’t it?
Mahler: Oh, yes! Ohmega had a record year last year, right before we were acquired. We’re just growing, and opportunities, applications are growing with us. It’s just been a wonderful experience right now.
Mahler: It’s very exciting, I’ll tell you. From a personal basis, it’s very exciting.
Johnson: It’s been years in the making for this sort of momentum.
Mahler: It’s been a long time coming; we always were a focused, profitable business over the decades, but to take it to the next level, to really have that inflection point where we’re looking at sustained growth, some aggressive moves, with the support from a bigger organization, we have that now and it’s pretty exciting to see it. I think five years from now, when people talk about Quantic, it’s going to be with admiration. It really will be.
Johnson: Great. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
Mahler: I’ve enjoyed it.