C&K Components’ new chief executive officer John J. Boucher is not wasting any time in setting new goals for the global manufacturer of electromechanical switches, smart card readers, and high-reliability connectors. His goals in 2016 are centered on expansion. This includes expanding the company’s customer base, revenues and market penetration. C&K also will continue to drive cost productivity improvements across the board to help maintain margins.
With about 50,000 standard products, C&K already has a broad market base. As part of the expansion strategy, Boucher plans to target larger clients and penetrate deeper into its existing customer base across end markets. The company is making investments to penetrate existing customers in a “bigger way. We want to be a preferred supplier for our key clients,” he said.
Boucher’s experience – which includes chief procurement officer at Celestica – puts him in a good position to ensure that C&K becomes a preferred supplier at its key customers. He developed Celestica’s total cost of ownership (TCO) solution that the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) company used to select suppliers. “I know what it takes to become a preferred supplier for a company like Celestica. We were also the biggest customer for the largest distributors so I understand what the distribution channel needs and wants.”
Boucher most recently served as president and CEO of ModusLink. Prior to joining ModusLink, he served as partner, chief commercial officer and chief operations officer at Symbotic LLC, a product and service company that provides robotics and automation solutions for high volume distribution centers. He held a number of executive level positions at Celestica from 2004 to 2010.
Prior 2004, he was as a founding team member of Manufacturers Services Ltd. (MSL) – which was sold to Celestica in 2004 - where he was the executive for global operations and supply chain. “We went from zero revenues to billion dollar revenues in six years so I know what it takes to grow,” Boucher said.
Growth investments being implemented at C&K include hiring additional sales personal through the expansion of manufacturers’ representatives and hiring management within the company to meet certain efforts around client management and supporting different market segments.
“We are putting energy and concentration around our existing manufacturers’ reps, our distributors, and having much more focus on EMS,” said Boucher.
The company is “putting a focus on serving the major markets – the OEMs, the distribution channel - a market maker for us as well as a fulfillment solution - and the EMS market, a consumer of the product and also a market maker within their design organization teams,” he added.
Some of the market expansion will be driven through digital marketing, PR and data analytics, Boucher said. “We are going to leverage technology in a big way.”
Investments in automation also will continue at its global facilities. Boucher recently approved additional capital expenditures to put in place more automation to support the company’s vertical integration strategy. “One of the areas that I give us good scores in today is our level of vertical integration, which includes making our own tooling to facilitate quick start-up manufacturing or customization of a product for a client’s needs, and complementary automation within vertical integration. We will continue to invest in automation in our operations facilities around the world.”
Improving customer relationships with both the engineering and purchasing communities also is a priority. “Our connectivity to our clients through our engineering community is very good. We are going to continue to invest and we need to bring our clients more engineers, faster responsiveness and much more flexibility in customization to meet their needs. I give us good grades today but I want great grades tomorrow,” Boucher said.
By continuing to invest in its major distributors, Boucher also expects to improve delivery to its customers. “If we continue - and we will - with the investment in our major distributors with creative programs that work for both companies then we will get better service from them,” he said.
“We are relying on some of our key partners for a delivery network,” he added. “Where we can have an effect to get products to clients faster is through a lead time reduction program. That program needs to be expanded across many more SKUs. Our relationship with our key distributors and their willingness to develop creative programs like stocking inventory enables us to offer a reduced lead time to our end clients for many more SKUs than we have in the past.”
The company will continue to refine its operating platform to reduce lead times and look at what’s important to its customers, said Boucher. “What’s important to them is their TCO scorecard so it isn’t just price. It’s quality; it’s delivery; it’s availability, and it’s geographical inventory positioning. We will work with our channel partners to make sure we have a solution for our end clients and we will continue to invest in areas to help that.”
Boucher also plans to leverage the company’s existing brand awareness around high quality and dependability into more customers and markets. “I think C&K is known as a reliable high-quality product source, and a very dependable company. I’ve experienced that to be true [as chief procurement officer at Celestica], and I want to leverage that,” Boucher said.
“We are really affecting our customers’ brand,” he said. “My belief is that we have to drive the quality as well as the functionality and the feel of our switches. We get high grades from our clients that the brand impact to them is rather profound.”
“We’re going to accelerate the marketing piece around our brand and around that last touch – the brand impact. We certainly will deliver to those that have a need for an embedded switch, but we are really going to concentrate on clients that want to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and have a need for our product,” he continued.
In addition to a new CEO, C&K also redesigned its website to make it easier for engineers and purchasers to navigate; do parametric searches, and download documents including 3D drawings and datasheets. Customers also can request samples and check stock. The new site is already generating leads through engineering questions on projects rather than engineers only asking for 3D drawings or environmental compliance documents.