Firm Proves U.S. Companies Can Compete Making Circuit Boards

By Deborah Adamson Los Angeles Daily News | THE JOURNAL RECORD, July 23, 1997 | Go to article overview

Firm Proves U.S. Companies Can Compete Making Circuit Boards


Deborah Adamson Los Angeles Daily News, THE JOURNAL RECORD


LOS ANGELES -- The day after her husband's funeral, Sherma Jensen pulled herself together and went to work.

She had a lot to do: Five months earlier, she, her late husband and two other family members walked away from stable, good-paying jobs to start a new company in Moorpark, Calif. With their future at stake, Jensen had to go back to work.

"We asked ourselves, `Can we do it?'" she said. "We did it." Today, six years later, American Board Assembly is enjoying $2.2 million in sales and an average growth rate of 33 percent a year, Jensen said. From two employees, it has grown to 100 workers at two facilities in Moorpark. The company assembles printed circuit boards for the electronics industry. They are used in consumer electronics and other high-tech equipment. ABA's growth reflects a trend in its industry, contract manufacturing, which is enjoying robust growth, according to the American Electronics Association in Santa Clara. Six out of 10 original equipment manufacturers use contract manufacturers today, according to a survey by Purchasing magazine. Five years ago, 37 percent of these firms did not outsource. These electronics manufacturers are subcontracting out work -- such as the building of printed circuit boards -- to companies like ABA to cut costs. They can save 24 percent off manufacturing costs, the survey said. "There are a lot of manufacturers that are just overloaded," said John Hatch, spokesman for the American Electronics Association. "We're in a boom, in terms of the total electronics industry." But this rosy picture was not what friends painted for Jensen when she and her late husband, Dick, thought about starting their business in 1991. "Everybody was saying, `This is the worst time to start a business,'" she said. "Business is down." But the couple, their daughter, Shawna, and her then-fiancee, Gene, did it anyway. They rented space in a 1,500-square-foot facility for manufacturing. …

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