Board Pricing Challenges and Opportunities

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The cost of everything is on the way up, and fabricators are feeling the squeeze. They may hesitate to raise their prices because they don’t want to scare off business, but what options do they have? 

We asked James Hofer, general manager of Accurate Circuit Engineering, to weigh in with his thoughts on this conundrum. 

Andy Shaughnessy: James, with the cost of materials, shipping, and electricity rising, have you had to increase your prices?  

James Hofer: We did raise prices at the beginning of the year. However, despite current costs changing on a daily basis, we have not revisited our pricing. It is my intent to hold pricing through at least end of the third quarter to see if things stabilize. 

Shaughnessy: What are your customers’ attitudes about price increases? Are they more accepting now because they’ve maybe just paid $7 a gallon for gas?  

Hofer: There has never been a time that customers are pleased about cost increases and resisting increases is part of the job for buyers. As we have held pricing through mid-year, I cannot really comment on that. However, I am more understanding of increases and I believe that our customers should be as well. But wow, the increases I see are much more frequent and larger than what I would consider fair. 

Shaughnessy: What steps can fabricators take to keep from raising their prices?  

Hofer: Unfortunately, there is not much a fabricator can do except buy larger quantities in an attempt to utilize volume discounts and attempt to hedge against future increases. Another option we are discussing is a temporary “surcharge” that can be removed if the market stabilizes. 

Shaughnessy: You work with a lot of newer, cutting-edge technologies. Do you think that this helps your company absorb costs?

Hofer: Absolutely. ACE is a quick-turn shop, and that is an extremely sought-after premium right now. Our margin is most definitely reduced due to the current situation, but it also most certainly helps reduce the impact of the material cost increases. 

Shaughnessy: Do you have any final comments on these challenges? 

Hofer: These times are certainly very challenging. Is the phrase, “Please, Lord, make it stop,” considered a comment? 

Shaughnessy: That’s a great stopping point, James. Thanks for speaking with me. 

Hofer: Thank you, Andy. 

This conversation originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of PCB007 Magazine.


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