Ventec International Group Expands North American Focus

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Ventec International Group is looking to expand their U.S. operations, and they’ve begun this process by bringing Chris Alessio on board as VP of sales and operations of Ventec USA. I met with Chris and Ventec USA President Jack Pattie at IPC APEX EXPO 2016 to discuss their approach and possible opportunities for the North American laminate market.

Barry Matties: First, please tell me a little about Ventec and what exactly you do.

Jack Pattie: Ventec is a premier manufacturer of copper-clad laminates and prepregs located primarily in Suzhou, China, where we do our manufacturing. We own our own distribution channel throughout Europe, South East Asia, and the UK and I manage the North American market.

Matties: How long have you been in business?

Pattie: Ventec USA has been in business going on our sixth year in the U.S., however Ventec has had a presence in the U.S. market since the year 2000. I owned a company called Global Laminates which helped introduce Ventec into North America.

Matties: Good, and you're growing. We’re sitting here with Chris, who you have just recently hired.

Pattie: We are, yes. We're growing our footprint. We're growing our product range. With the current growth rate of Ventec USA we really had to look at growing our infrastructure, but in order to complement that we've decided to bring on Chris Alessio as our VP of sales and operations. Chris joined us about a month ago and had a chance to visit our facility in China last month, which was great. He met all of the people from the CEO, down. I think Chris, you'll agree, it's a very welcoming company from that aspect.

Chris Alessio: Absolutely. Very family oriented. It was a nice visit, and it was good to meet everybody.

Matties: What else can you tell me about your experience at the Ventec Suzhou factory?

Alessio: I’ve visited many organizations in Asia from PCB fabricators to EMS companies, but this was the first time through a laminator. It was really a nice experience. I will say I don't have a lot to compare it to, but it really was an impressive operation—the equipment set, the people themselves, the quality-minded organization, and the sheer amount of engineering resources. For a company of our size, approaching $200 million in worldwide sales, we have more than 80 engineers that focus a good portion of their activity on new product development.

We'll get to that a little bit later—the stuff that's on the horizon that we're really excited about—but it was a great experience, great company, great people, and I'm really happy to be a part of it. I’m excited because we have tremendous opportunity to capture additional market share in the U.S.  It's going to be full steam forward, focusing on growing this North American market.

Matties: What's your role? What's your typical day going to look like?

Alessio: I'm second in command to Jack, who's president here in the U.S. We're creating an organization right now. I'm about 30 days into the role, but it's looking more like we're going to divide up the U.S. into Western and Eastern regions. I'll run the West and Jack will run the East. That's what it's looking like, so my days will be focusing on sales growth, both organically and with new customers.

That's really what I've done for the past 25 years is put teams together—focus on getting our current customers happier,growing market share with those current customers, and then of course always hunting and looking for the next opportunity. In addition to that, the role will include operations responsibilities. We have logistics hubs in Fullerton and Fremont, California. That's where we're bringing in material from China—we're stocking, cutting, tooling, repackaging and then servicing the local marketplaces in the Western region throughout California, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona, Colorado, etc.

Matties: Jack, what sort of relief does this bring to you? Let's talk a little bit about that.

Pattie: It's huge. I can't over-estimate it. I spent a lot of my time last year in an airplane seat, 130 nights away. That was difficult. I wasn't in one place very long, so I was bouncing around. Honestly, I think it stagnated our growth a bit. What we really wanted to do was take a look at our growing marketplace and create a robust organization that will meet our current and growing needs. To have somebody as a second in command to help alleviate some of the daily burden, but also quite honestly someone with Chris's experience to really bounce some ideas off to make sure it's not just coming from my direction.

So far, we're only a month in, but I think we're very complementary with regard to our skill sets. Chris is learning our product line, but really helping us build the sales team and improve some of our operational capabilities. I'm very excited about it. So is my wife, by the way (laughs).

Matties: What goals have you set? Do you break it down by calendar year, or the next year?

Alessio: We're actually in the midst of creating a two-year plan right now. Again, I am only 30 days in, so really just trying to understand the true capabilities and the differentiators that we have as a laminator in our product lines. That's starting to come together. Over the next few weeks, Jack and I will be putting together that two-year plan, and it will be definitive in terms of goals and targets, things that we really want to achieve here in the United States, and we have great opportunities. We really do. Our polyimide products are fabulous. That's not me as a sales guy saying that. That is me polling our current customers and trying to get a feel for what they like and what they don't like. Polyimide comes up time and time again as a superior product.

Matties: What don't they like?

Pattie: Quite honestly, our lack of OEM approval, which has nothing to do with the quality of the product. Time and time again they'll go through the testing, and it's been tested through the ringer by the big guys and the product becomes the laminate of choice, but when you get into the mil/aero space you need OEM approval. You've met some of our OEM team. We just added Pesh Patel, who’s been in the industry for a long time. He's going to be our U.S.-based mil/aero OEM global account manager. He's really focused on implementing OEM approvals because we pass all of the tests in the PCB facility and then it will stop. We haven't realized the full sales potential, but we are addressing that pretty aggressively, not only in the U.S., but worldwide. The OEM team is growing. That's been a weakness of ours, but we have addressed it.


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