Prime Technological Services is a leading contract manufacturer of high-mix, high-complexity printed circuit boards and electronic assemblies. But the company’s focus on customer needs and industry innovations are the drivers behind its success.
“We focus on OEM customers in 12 to 15 vertical markets,” CEO Greg Chesnutt says. Those markets include energy, telecommunications, defense and aerospace, and industrial and automation control. Other categories are cable and broadcasting, medical, lighting and lighting controls, environmental controls, hospitality, transportation, energy and energy management systems, and nuclear safety.
Diverse Customer Base
Prime works with three types of customers: Fortune 500 companies, established mid-market firms and new, rapidly growing companies. Chesnutt adds that the diverse client base is “by design” so that Prime remains competitive in several market segments.
Chesnutt says Prime takes significant interest in working with smaller companies that are introducing solutions. “We engage them in the early stages of development and try to support them early on,” he notes. In fact, Prime takes the additional step of identifying emerging small companies for potential partnership opportunities. The company relies on large electronic distributors and contract designers it works with to help identify emerging companies. “Contract designers are a great source for leads,” Chesnutt says. “Given our track record, electronic distributors often think of us as a great partner to recommend. We therefore monitor this activity and engage with those that are the right fit.”
The Suwanee, Ga.-based mid-sized company operates a single manufacturing facility, but has grown significantly since it was founded in 1989. In 2007, Prime was acquired by Jordan Capital, a private equity firm, which provided additional financial resources, new insights and key best practices. Chesnutt says these included principles of lean production to help strengthen the company’s position as a leader in high-mix, high-complexity and quick-turn manufacturing.
Prime in late 2014 expanded its current location by 27 percent. The expansion was necessary to accommodate the company’s approximately 150 customers. “We’ve morphed into a full-service provider,” Chesnutt says.
The majority of Prime’s customers are located in the Southeast, the Ohio Valley and parts of the Atlantic coast. Expansion plans involve establishing a foothold in the midwest, southwest and northeast regions of the country, though there is no specific timetable for growing the company, Chesnutt says.
Prime’s success is a result of identifying client needs. The company specializes in high-mix, high-complexity work for customers demanding flexibility, speed-to-market and competitive total costs. “We continually seek new ways to drive down costs while maintaining the highest levels of flexibility and responsiveness,” Chesnutt says.
However, he emphasizes that simply saving customers money is not sufficient. “It’s not necessarily cost-driven,” he says. “They’re not coming to us to take a flat amount out of the total product cost. Rather, customers turn to us to efficiently reduce product costs through reliable, quick-turn products consistent in quality.”
Partnering With Clients
Customers count on Prime to provide a well-built product that is completed on time, he says. “You have to be very, very familiar with your client,” he says. “They have complex products. Time is not on your side; speed to market and quality are top priorities. They’re trying to meet sales and marketing plans [and] it has to be right every time.”
Prime works in partnership with its clients rather than simply manufacturing and delivering products. The company believes its purpose is to help customers reach their strategic goals by accelerating and sustaining technological leadership, Chesnutt explains. “We have to identify the technology trends and develop competencies with those technologies in order to remain competitive,” Chesnutt says. “It’s all about where the markets are going.”
“We know that our purpose extends far beyond manufacturing and shipping products on our customer’s behalf,” the company says. “Our customers view us as an extension of the value chain that serves their ultimate customer or end-user. The truest measure of our success is the enduring success of our customers. It is a part of our culture and how we measure our progress as a business.”
Prime understands that in today’s highly competitive market, customer resources are precious. Customers cannot afford to waste time, money or other assets as a result of inefficiencies. As a result, the company is committed to lean thinking and operating principles, Chesnutt says. “Our manufacturing assets have to be current,” he notes.
As the company explains: “Lean is a mindset centered on the empowerment of people to pursue the elimination of waste from every business process with the ultimate goal of providing world-class quality, delivery and service to our customers at the lowest possible cost.”