An Interview with Gardien Group’s Jason Fraser


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Dan: Jason, tell me about the company’s global reach. I believe as the world gets smaller, this is where we are going.

Jason: Gardien’s global footprint is the company’s single biggest point of differentiation. The industry has fundamentally transformed over the last ten to fifteen years, both in terms of geographic concentration and market consolidation, and as a result, it’s not unusual for many of our customers to run cross-border operations.

This uniquely positions Gardien to support international fabricators with their QA needs. We recently created a new position within the Group, VP for Global Quality, and have committed considerable resources to ensure that we deliver a globally consistent level of service. I think the value a client will see from this is the ability to enjoy the benefits of low-cost country production without jeopardizing quality, reputation or customer retention.

Dan: Tell me about your customers. Who are they, and are they mostly big companies?

Jason: No, not at all. We operate on a global basis, but with a local presence, so we cover a whole range of customers, from small, family owned PCB shops to large international fabricators—and everything in-between. Our customers cover the entirety of the industry, supplying product to military, aerospace and medical industries, as well as consumer electronics such as iPad and iPhone. Obviously, in support of this, we carry the necessary certifications for working within those industries.

Here are some numbers I think you’ll find interesting: In a typical month we make an average of 680 fixtures, test more than 4,300 new jobs, handle more than 17,000 orders, and perform more than 4.5 million tests.

Dan:  And what services do you offer? Of what are those 4.5 million tests are comprised?

Jason: We provide a whole host of tests, including electrical, flying probe/fixtureless, universal grid, dedicated, 4-wire Kelvin (low resistance), high-voltage, hipot, and embedded resistance and capacitance. And we support those tests with a variety of services, including fault identification and repair, fixturing, CAM services, AOI, manual and automated visual inspection, equipment sales and customer care, and consulting.

Dan: So Gardien could be described as an international electrical testing company to the PCB industry?

Jason: Yes, ET testing is certainly one of the many services we offer, but it’s not the true value we deliver to our customers.

Dan: Okay, so what is the value of Gardien’s service?

Jason: Partnering with Gardien allows clients to free up resources that they currently commit to QA and repurpose them to value-add areas of PCB fabrication.

Dan:  What does that mean, exactly?

Jason: Gardien works with its clients to understand their drivers and needs and from this we can generate a fully customized QA solution that not only enhances their quality reputation, it actually provides relief for resources they would like more control of, such as financial, labor, knowledge and time. They know they are getting the finest product QA available in the market today, overseen by what we believe are some of the best-trained experts in the industry.

Dan: Jason, can you give me some examples of the different types of companies that you work with?

Jason: Of course. First of all let’s talk about one of our U.S. clients who runs a small family PCB shop. He needed to increase capacity but didn’t have the capital to invest in both fabrication and ET equipment. We were able to support the increased QA requirements, which allowed him to commit the capital to fabrication CAPEX.

Gardien offers management of the entire QA process, allowing clients to remove it from CAPEX & payroll. They also benefit from economies of scale due to the size of our global footprint.

We also have a large international client who runs a cross-border facility in China. Prior to our involvement, they often utilized their production staff to meet increased demand in QA/FQA. We provided our Integrated Services solution that addressed output volatility in QA through a combination of better-suited equipment, optimised staffing levels, and more effective process control. This allowed our client’s employees to focus on what they do best, the manufacture of PCBs, and for us to independently validate the excellence of their product.

Dan: Full disclosure here: I’ve known you and Gardien for a few years now, but I have to say that every time I talk with you I am pleasantly surprised. Can you tell me what you are working on for the future?

Jason: Well thanks, Dan. Here’s what I think the future holds for the industry and for Gardien. The PCB industry is growing. IPC reports that we are quickly approaching $60 billion and are headed for $100 billion by the end of this decade. Obviously, this bodes well for companies like ours and to the fact that the technology is becoming more sophisticated with board parameters getting tighter all the time. We are reaching a point where your average board fabricator will need a company like Gardien to provide the services that we offer in order to keep ahead of both these growth and technology curves. It’s our plan, our mission actually, to be ready to help them not only keep up with those demands but to stay ahead of them as well.

Dan: Jason, thank you for taking the time out to speak with me today.

Jason: Dan, it’s always a pleasure.

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