6 October 2011
MOORESTOWN, N.J.–The country’s manufacturing mojo is coming back. That’s clearly evident in the companies we’ve talked to during the first three months and 7,000 miles of the Drive for Innovation.
There’s no better example than Swemco, a nearly 50-year-old company based here. Richard Szczepkowski is the second generation (a third is already involved) management in this contract manufacturing firm.
You think of contract manufacturing, you think of Taiwan, Shenzhen, or the Phillippines. You don’t think of Moorestown, a half hour outside of Philadelphia, as a place for your manufacturing bet. But, for a lot of electronics design and manufacturing today, you’d be wrong.
Huge volume manufacturing works overseas, where labor and other business costs are relatively small. But in the U.S., where design is quickly moving to applications that change constantly and don’t demand millions of units all the time, manufacturing works. And it’s starting to become sexy.
Rich and his brother Carl have taken the reins from their father, Albert, and carefully grown the business since they were first involved in the 1970s.
In the first of two segments, Rich offers an overview of the company and its competitive landscape:
Rich has very definite views on manufacturing strategy and the role of government in business. But he also understands government can help as well, and Swemco has worked with the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program to help fund the purchase of some lightning-fast new pick-and-place machines capable of more than 10 times the throughput of their older machines.
Does he think the U.S. can be competitive in manufacturing? Absolutely… in certain volumes. In his case, call it “Jersey On-shores.” The key to the ROI on his new pick-and-place machines is it enables Swemco to compete not just in the low-volume manufacturing world but in the mid-tier of the market, hundreds of thousands of units a month. That’s a brave new world: