A Conversation with an Industry Twenty-Something


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At a recent SMTA Expo, I met with Matt Hammesfahr, a salesperson with Amitron. Matt is young, by our industry standards—in his midtwenties. Just a few years out of college, Matt holds a business degree and is already a top salesman with the company. Here’s one of those twenty-somethings we keep saying we want to attract to our industry. How did this happen? I had to get the story.

Patty Goldman: Matt, you are 26 years old, you have a business degree, and you’re in sales with Amitron—your first job out of college—and doing very well. How long you been with Amitron?

Matt Hammesfahr: About three years now.

Goldman: What brought you into this industry?

Hammesfahr: I needed a job out of college. That is always good motivation. There seemed to be a lot of companies in the area and I always wanted to be in sales so I called them, and they called me back.

Goldman: So you reached out and then fell into circuit boards?

Hammesfahr: Yes. It was tough starting out in this industry, because nobody really likes to switch their circuit board manufacturer, which I can understand now that I’m a part of it. There’s a lot of work involved. I stuck with it, and after a good seven months or so I really started to catch on. It took a lot of hard work, though—calling and trying to get in front of customers.

Goldman: Have you learned much about the circuit board business in this time?

Hammesfahr: Oh yes. I had a little bit of knowledge going into it. I knew how a circuit board was made, the printing and etching part. When I was going through the interview and they were pointing out processes, I knew what they were talking about and let them know that. When you go to an interview, you always want to have some sort of knowledge of the company before you get there. It shows them that you care and you’re interested, as well.

Goldman: What have the last couple of years been like? I’m sure you’ve learned a lot, not just about circuit boards, but also about your customers.

Hammesfahr: There are good days and bad days, but I’ve enjoyed it and I plan to stick with it. Every customer is different. They all have different requirements and want different things. When it comes to circuit board manufacturing, some customers will only buy stateside. With other customers, pricing is more of a requirement for them. Especially when you’re dealing with higher volumes and whatnot. It’s all about knowing your customers and how you can help them.

Goldman: Tell me a little bit about Amitron and what you’re finding with the company. Hammesfahr: We’re a great company. Amitron has been in the industry for a little more than 30 years, with a 72,000-square-foot factory in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. Amitron produces single-sided to 30-layer rigid circuit boards at any volume with flexible lead times. We have been growing and recently brought in new personnel for our engineering and quality control departments to help improve our quality and service to our customers. We also have a second factory in India which allows us to be more competitive in pricing. Plus, we have more control over the process and easier communication partnering with them rather than other offshore manufacturers where you never know how these boards are being produced.

Goldman: Is that where your volume work goes, to India?

Hammesfahr: Mostly. ITAR work is always done stateside. We try to keep everything stateside as much as possible—that’s first and foremost. When you’re going against some of these higher runners that are going against China, it gets competitive.

Goldman: The company in India is your sister company then, and they’re doing their own thing, shall we say? You’re not just feeding them, but they’re feeding themselves, more or less?

Hammesfahr: Pretty much. They’re their own separate entity, but our owner owns both facilities. We do have a good line of contact with them. Even with the language barrier, communication is never an issue. We have a direct line of communication with them when it comes to trying to find an order, and figuring out where everything is. It’s really been helpful. I’ve dealt with some China shops in the past and it was a little tougher to get feedback from them. It’s been a nice niche for us.

 

To read the full version of this interview which appeared in the May 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.

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