During IPC APEX EXPO, I met with CML USA General Manager Ivan Wong, who was a first-time attendee at the San Diego event. CML is a worldwide PCB sourcing solutions provider with offices around the globe, but the company just recently entered the U.S. market. I spoke with Ivan about CML’s mission and the U.S. office’s plans.
Feinberg: Ivan, CML has a very interesting story to tell. Tell me a little bit about CML, the company history and where you're located.
Wong: CML Europe was founded in Germany, in 2001, as a family business with a small staff. Over the years and under the management of the second generation, CML continued double digit growth, acquired a multi-lingual and multi-cultural team of 250+ people and a global presence. Apart from CML USA, which is situated in Houston, we are also present in 12 other cities such as Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and our newest location, Bangalore, India.
Feinberg: Separate corporations, but a division of CML?
Wong: Yes, CML is a generic term for independent partners, but we are under one sales division.
Feinberg: So tell me a little more about what you do.
Wong: Unlike other companies, we do more than just match our customers with the right suppliers. We provide solutions to our customers and we can proudly say that CML is the leader for PCB sourcing solutions. We support customers throughout all stages of the product life cycle, including design, consulting, engineering, manufacturing, and logistics, for all markets. To put it simply, we take care of our customers’ supply chain. One of our unique selling points is our automotive expertise. The quality standard and qualification processes for automotive are much higher than the usual consumer or in some cases industrial industries. For CML, automotive dominates around 80% of our market segment so we have a well-established team of PCB experts and suppliers to handle automotive projects as well as consumer, industrial, telecommunication, etc.
Feinberg: Automotive is one of the most rapidly growing segments of electronics. I'm hearing numbers that, while automotive may be 20% of electronics, which is big, that it's going to be approaching 50% of electronic manufacturing in the not-too-distant future.
Let's say that I've got a new product, a new device that's going to be used in the automotive industry, or just in electronics in general, and I have a design, and I want to find somebody to manufacture it. I get personally, from LinkedIn, inquiries from hundreds of printed circuit manufacturers in Shenzhen. I don't know which one is good and which one is not good. It's hard to determine based on what they tell me. What you’re saying is that I could go to CML and order my PCBs from you and you will take care of everything else?
Wong: Yes, that’s correct. Because we do the auditing and we pre-filter all the data criteria or data integrity. Not only is CML ISO-qualified, but we also select our suppliers strictly. All our suppliers are ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and IATF 16949 qualified, which is crucial for automotive. We do the auditing of the factory based on the VDA 6.3 standard, again based on automotive standards and then eventually the end-customer can also do the auditing of the factories. Also, we will get the best supplier to produce the end-product.
Feinberg: I want to get this end-product out there before some competitor beats me to it. But it’s not always possible for me to manage the project due to lack of resources, location and costs. How can you guarantee the quality of my PCBs and the management of my project?
Wong: Inside our organization we have IPC-certified trainers and specialists, resident engineers, supplier and customer Quality Assurance teams for quality control, supply chain management, and audits. This is so that we are always on hand to provide quality technical support on site. Apart from our experts being a key role for ensuring quality and a smooth process throughout your project, we have a great relationship with our suppliers and we continue to focus and strengthen our sustainable relationship.
Feinberg: You are now entering the U.S. market, which you are new to. Why now?
Wong: Like I said before, CML is well-established in Europe. We believe that this is based on the solutions we provide that are well accepted. Market trends and our own statistics indicate that the USA is the next big market for us because what we offer in Europe, especially to the automotive industry, is needed in the U.S. With a rise in automotive and electronic manufacturing, it makes sense for us to be available in the U.S., where we can bring in our expertise and experience to serve our customers better and with quicker results. At CML, our customers’ satisfaction is our main KPI and we always strive to exceed their expectations. We always highlight that not only do we want to geographically be where our customers are but also connect in terms of culture. When the customer faces a challenge, then we are here to provide the most suitable solution to solve it immediately. You know, we are a company who enjoys connecting people, continents and companies—the U.S. is such a great country with similar values, we are looking forward to discovering more and contributing to this.
Feinberg: We're seeing a lot of optimism in the U.S. in the economy right now—more than I've seen in several years. You're coming here for the first time, so you're seeing for the first time that we're talking about the U.S. as an emerging market.
Wong: Sure, this experience has been a real eye opener for us and we can see many potential opportunities here.
Feinberg: Very interesting. Well, we really appreciate you coming by today and telling us about CML. I'm sure that there is some interest and that you can probably find a good market here. and we wish you luck with your new venture.
Wong: Thank you very much.