Archive for April, 2014

Del Mar Electronics & Design Show – “Innovation…Through Face-to-Face Interaction

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Don’t miss the Del Mar Electronics and Design Show on April 30th and May 1st at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The show is an annual trade show and convention for people who design, manufacture, and test products. The two-day event is free for industry professionals and will be held at the Del Mar Fair Grounds with plentiful free parking and easy highway access. Show hours are 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Wednesday, April 30th and 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Thursday May 1st. For more information or to register, visit

Over the last 18 years, the show has evolved from a sales rep/distributor show to become a major exhibition of local, regional, and national manufacturing companies and organizations.

Program Manager Douglas Bodenstab stated “Manufacturing in America is experiencing resurgence due to many factors, especially the new and exciting technologies that are abundant here in Southern California, and this event is riding that wave.”

New technologies will be displayed on the show floor with over 500 exhibitors. Dozens of free seminars will be provided on both show days. A few of the topics to be presented are:

How Does 3D Printing Apply to your Business?
3D Printing – Overview of Available Technologies & Commercial Applications
Computer-Aided Engineering for the Electronics  Industry
Telepresence Robots for Factory Support
Lithium Battery Technology Update
Optimizing Crowd Sourcing Funding Success Using Engineering Methodologies

I will be one of the keynote speakers at the show on the topic of American Manufacturing Trends:  “Reshoring,” Nearsourcing & Technical Training at 10:00 AM Wednesday, April 30th, Room D in the Mission Tower building, (across from the show registration).

Cost savings of outsourcing in China are eroding from higher labor rates and shipping costs. Quality problems, counterfeit parts & IP theft cause companies to rethink where to source. I will discuss the latest trends of nearsourcing and reshoring and how to calculate Total Cost of Ownership using Reshoring Initiative’s worksheet, sharing a few case stories of companies reshoring. In addition, I will describe the availability of technical training in the region to address shortage of skilled manufacturing workers.

The other keynote speaker is Daniel O’Leary, Award Winning Author & USC Marshall School of Business Professor, who will present “Social Media and the Supply Chain” at 4:00  PM on April 30th in Room B in the Mission Towers building.

This presentation will investigate capabilities of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Digg. and others, for their current and potential impact on the supply chain. In particular, this talk will examine the use of social media to capture the impact on supply chain events, analyze the use of social media in the supply chain to build relationships among supply chain participants, and investigate the of use of social media to mitigate and manage the impact of supply chain disruptions.

My company, ElectroFab Sales, will be exhibiting at Booths 207 – 209 in the Bing Crosby Hall at the show. We will have sample parts on display for:

Century Rubber Company – molded and die cut rubber parts, conductive rubber keypads, ISO certified
Bolero Plastics – plastic vacuum and pressure forming, precision plastics machining, and fabrication including secondary operations such as routing stamping, painting, EFI/RFI shielding, silk screening and assembly.
Mina Product Development Company – rapid 3D & SLA prototyping, cast urethane and cast silicone, injection molding of small to medium parts in thermoplastic & elastomeric materials, assembly & special packaging
True Position Machining – CNC and manual machining, turn and mill)

Three of the companies we represent will have their own booths in the Exhibit Hall:  A&G Industries, Alva Manufacturing, and A Squared Technologies. Please drop by all of our booths.

San Diego’s Maritime Industry is Becoming Increasingly Important to the Region

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

While we all know that San Diego has a world-class port that is the gateway to the Pacific and the growing markets of Asia and Latin America, most don’t realize that its maritime industry “represents one of the most unique regional economies in the world with more than 1,400 companies producing over $14 billion of direct sales and a workforce of almost 46,000 spread across an array of traditional and technology-oriented sectors.” The knowledge of how important that the maritime industry clusters has become to the regional economy was made clear to me when  I recently came across a report that was released in 2012:  the San Diego Maritime Industry Report, sponsored by the San Diego Workforce Partnership, (SDWP) San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (SDREDC), and The Maritime Alliance (TMA).

The survey portion of the project was conducted over a period of four weeks during May and June 2012. It involved quantitative economic analysis of data from proprietary business resources (such as Info-USA and Dun and Bradstreet), standard data from the BLS and Census Bureau, and first-hand information from San Diego-based ERISS Corporation through numerous in-person and telephone interviews and both a telephone and an online survey of more than 230 companies.

San Diego’s Maritime Industry and related economic activity comprise what is being called the “Blue Economy.” The maritime technology or “Blue Tech” cluster  “includes nearly 200 separate NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes and includes businesses in sectors as obvious as fishing and as surprising as metal forging.”

The 84-page report divides the Blue Economy into three general categories of the functional organization of San Diego’s Maritime Industry:

  • The traditional maritime space, in which industries are exclusively maritime, such as fishing and ship building
  • The traditional maritime space, in which an industry includes maritime and non-maritime activity, such as construction industries capable of working on ports
  • The maritime technology space, or “Blue Tech”

The analysis suggests an estimated 46,000 employees work in San Diego’s Maritime Industry:

  • Total employment (September, 2011) 45,778
  • Traditional maritime exclusive industries 8,176
  • Maritime technology industries “Blue Tech” 18,948
  • Other maritime 18,654  (in traditional industries that include maritime activities but are not exclusively maritime)

Shipbuilding and ship repair provide the most jobs, 6,127, followed by Testing Laboratories, 3,689, R&D in Physical, Engineering, & Life Sciences (exc. Biotechnology), 3,376, and Engineering services, 3,228.

Based on the survey, “the projected total employment growth between 2011 and 2020 is for nearly 6,000 new jobs, or 12 percent of the current total (though fast growth, new technologies, and new opportunities could yield significantly higher numbers.)”

Total revenue was estimated at slightly more than $14 billion (direct spend only) in 2011:

  • Traditional maritime exclusive industries $ 1,403,082,257
  • Maritime technology industries   $ 6,165,840,257
  • Other maritime   $ 6,465,162,848

Source: ERISS; Info-USA; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages; Dun and Bradstreet; Corporation Wiki

The report states, “The region’s focus on the high-technology aspects of the Blue Economy is increasingly well-placed. Technology is becoming ever more enmeshed in even the most traditional maritime activities…The role of technology in San Diego’s maritime economy is also unique because of the close relationship with the U.S. Navy and the need for innovation for the Defense Department and defense industries.”

The Maritime Alliance undertook “yeomen’s efforts to define the totality of the Maritime Technology Cluster – really a sub-set of the larger Blue Economy – similar to how maritime technology clusters around the world seem to identify their industry activity as an innovation industry with close and overlapping relationships to the spheres of traditional maritime activity. Their efforts resulted in 14 sectors for the San Diego Maritime Technology Cluster map with many sub-sectors:”

  • Aquaculture and Fishing
  • Biomedicine
  • Boat and Shipbuilding
  • Cables and Connectors
  • Defense and Security
  • Desalination and Water Treatment
  • Marine Recreation
  • Ocean Energy and Minerals
  • Ocean Science and Observation
  • Ports and Marine Transportation
  • Robotics and Submarines
  • Telecommunications
  • Very Large Floating Platforms
  • Weather and Climate Science

The report made the following general observations about San Diego’s “Blue Tech” industry:

  • Highly differentiated  – 14 sectors in San Diego; 71 sub-sectors
  • Prevalence of multi-use technologies from small, specialized firms
  • Typically high gross margins
  • Largely self-reliant – traditionally modest users of bank debt and outside equity
  • Largely invisible in local markets / limited public & government awareness
  • Little baseline economic data due to non-specific NAICS codes
  • Highly export-oriented – typically 40-60 percent for most companies
  • Markets exist in virtually every country around the world
  • Growth in most sectors strongly outpaces world economic growth

These sectors can largely be used to describe the overall Maritime Industry and doing so “ helps to emphasize the increasing connectedness and overlap between the traditional and technology dimensions of San Diego’s maritime businesses…to leverage shared assets and opportunities, from formal investments all the way to informal instances of collaboration among stakeholders. “

While commercial fishing in the region is much smaller than in its heyday, the industry has the potential to double in size over the next decade. Plans have been made to provide ongoing support for commercial fishing, and recommendations have been incorporated in the Commercial Fisheries Revitalization and Coastal Public Access Plan that took three years to complete. The Port of San Diego staff has begun implementation. Implementation will take several years and cost several million dollars.

For about “one-third of the 22 companies that participated in live interviews, energy, especially offshore oil and gas, directly or indirectly, represented major, if not dominant customers. Most of these firms have few or no local customers. Their customers are either foreign firms or, if U.S. firms, located in either the Gulf of Mexico or foreign waters.” This sector has a high-growth potential market.

San Diego is the world leader in desalination and reverse osmosis technology, which was patented in San Diego in 1964. “More than 3,000 professionals and workers are employed by companies in the region which includes two of the three global market-share leaders in membrane supply.”

“San Diego has a long history in underwater vehicles and maritime robotics, initially driven by the Navy’s needs. The major Navy lab in San Diego (SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific) developed ten manned underwater vehicles and nearly two dozen unmanned vehicles.” Private companies have developed various kinds of UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles), such as the underwater vehicle models of SeaBotix Inc., the world’s leading MiniROV manufacturer.

The report states, “Workforce development has a critical role to play when cluster strategies consider the practical challenges and opportunities within any region…workers at the top of the income and education spectrum are no longer a central facet of what cluster strategies can offer a region…An occupational strategy for the Maritime Industry must be necessarily unique. On the one hand, the industry composition is too diverse to look for industry-driven occupational patterns as a driving rationale. On the other hand, that diversity includes both the kinds of firms that headline The Maritime Alliance’s membership and those that rely critically on workers who are skilled but unlikely to hold a bachelor’s degree.”

Most of the small, high-tech firms interviewed primarily recruited individuals with college or advanced degrees, with very high concentrations of various engineering disciplines. They reported considerable talent availability, particularly due to the recession. “The primary recruiting concern was lack of maritime-specific experience and training. Lack of undersea experience was especially noted by several firms. A few firms expressed concern about a growing shortage of software developers and programmers.”

The company interviews revealed the following common trends and challenges:

  •  Firms saw considerable opportunity, especially in offshore markets, but some of the most attractive deals are seen as too large or too complex for small companies to pursue effectively by themselves.
  • Strong global competition is emerging, especially from firms with considerable foreign government support or from large firms with access to significant private or public capital resources.
  • A large number expressed concerns about California’s regulatory burden, as well as that of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Many were very concerned about threats to the working waterfront and saw residential and tourism interests eating away at industrial and commercial uses of the waterfront.

Many supported strong local advocacy in support of reducing the state burden on maritime activity, easing commercial regulation on surveying and mapping activity and on recreational yachts over 300 tons, as well as harmonizing California ballast water regulations with those promulgated by the International Maritime Organization, until a common suite of U.S. regulations are issued. Shipyards claimed that they face overlapping and sometimes conflicting regulations and oversight from multiple agencies and that San Diego is worse than the rest of California.

Policy Recommendations

While these are too numerous and detailed to consider in depth in this brief article one of the most important was that it was recommended that the SDREDC focus on attracting and promoting high wage, high value-added, capital and R&D intensive firms and operations, with five focus areas for initial priority attention:

  1. Target offshore energy, and potentially offshore minerals extraction, as a priority cluster strategy effort. The range of companies in the San Diego region with deep expertise and technologies focused on operations in hostile ocean environments face an exciting array of opportunities.
  2. Launch a focused effort to take advantage of (and protect San Diego from) changing DoD strategy and restructuring.
  3. Strengthen organizational participation in the existing TMA Seafood (Aquaculture and Fishing) Working Group that brings together the fishing, processing, aquaculture, and other related interests to determine if the strong mutual interests identified can be leveraged into a seafood strategy for the region or the state.
  4. Aggressively promote shipbuilding, repair, and refit as this is a relatively robust local industry.
  5. Enhance seaborne trade and the associated land-based, logistics infrastructure.

The respondents expressed strong concerns that the various maritime organizations were not doing enough collectively to “protect the working waterfront.” Some of the recommendations included:

  •   Create joint-use facilities such as a world-class testing facility that firms could access
  •  Create incubator space for young firms, which would include access to shared equipment and facilities
  • Create a network of existing specialized facilities, equipment, and other assets that could be made available to smaller firms (for a fee)
  • Create a core marine biology facility for joint use (similar to an existing North Carolina initiative)

Finally, there was strong interest in more networking and collaboration between the Navy and private industry, between large firms and small firms, and among the many maritime-related organizations in the San Diego region. The consensus was that that the San Diego community does not think big enough in the maritime space. A clear recommendation was made for the San Diego maritime community to come up with a big idea and make it happen (such as the Maritime Center of Excellence).

We are in danger of losing our country’s assets!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

We Americans blithely ignore the long-term effects of allowing foreign corporations to purchase the assets of our country in the form of companies, land, and resources. We are selling off our ability to produce wealth by allowing so many American corporations to be purchased by foreign corporations. It is not just foreign companies buying our assets that is the problem ? it is the state-owned and massively subsidized companies of China that are dangerous because China uses its state-owned enterprises as a strategic tool of the state. By pretending they are private companies abiding by free-market rules to our detriment makes us the biggest chumps on the planet. German economist Fredrich List, wrote, “The power of producing wealth is…infinitely more important than wealth itself.”

How many Americans paid attention to the news last year that Smithfield Foods was acquired by a Chinese corporation? Last September, shareholders approved the sale of the company to Shuanghui International Holdings Limited, the biggest meat processor in China. Smithfield Foods is the world’s largest pork producer, and Americans must now face the danger of polluted Chinese food since our FDA only inspects 2% of our food imports.

In the December 15, 2013, New York Post, Diane Francis, author of “Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country” wrote “Currently, American authorities only evaluate foreign takeovers on the basis of national-security issues or shareholder rights and securities laws. But these criteria are inadequate. A fairer test in the case of Smithfield, and future buyout attempts by China, should also require reciprocity: Only corporations from countries that allow Americans to buy large companies should be allowed to buy large American companies. That is why Washington must impose new foreign ownership restrictions based on the principle of reciprocity. The rule must be that foreigners can only buy companies if Americans can make similar buyouts in their countries”.

How many are aware that the chain of AMC Theaters is now owned by Chinese Corporation? Dalian Wanda Group Company owned by China’s richest man, billionaire real estate developer, Wang Jianlin, bought AMC Theatres in May 2012, creating the world’s largest theater chain. This means that the Chinese will now be in a position to shape public opinion and mold the minds of our children through entertainment media.

In January 2014, Motorola Mobility was sold by Google to Chinese corporation, Lenovo, which means that the nation that invented smart phones is just about entirely out of the business of producing smart phones in America. Lenovo is the same company that bought IBM’s line of personal computers in 2004. This acquisition will give one of China’s most prominent technology companies a broader foothold in the U. S.

Through strategic purchases, China is positioning itself to be our energy supplier as well. Since 2009, Chinese companies have invested billions of dollars acquiring significant percentages of shares of energy companies, such as The AES Corporation, Chesapeake Energy, and Oil & Gas Assets. In 2010, China Communications Construction Company bought 100% of Friede Goldman United, and in 2012, A-Tech Wind Power (Jiangxi) bought 100% of Cirrus Wind Energy.

Chinese companies are even acquiring healthcare companies:  WuXiu Pharma Tech bought AppTec Laboratory Services, and Mindray Medical International bought Datascope Corporation in 2008; BGI-Shenzhen bought Complete Genomics in 2012, and Mindray Medical International bought Zonare Medical Systems in 2013.

Wall Street and the finance industry are not immune from acquisitions by Chinese corporations:  Shenzhen New World Group bought Sheraton Universal Hotel in 2011; China Aviation Industrial Fund bought International Lease Finance Corporation in 2012; and Fosun bought One Chase Manhattan Plaza in 2013.

One of the earliest acquisitions by a Chinese corporation was when the Hoover brand was sold to Hong Kong, China-based firm Techtronic Industries after Maytag that owned Hoover was acquired by Whirlpool in 2006.

The acquisition of American companies by foreign corporations isn’t something new. Many prominent companies founded in America have been bought by corporations from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and other European countries in the latter half of the 20th Century. Most American don’t realize that such iconic American companies as BF Goodrich and RCA are now owned by French corporations, and that Carnation and Gerber are now owned by Swiss corporations.

Most foreign countries don’t allow 100% foreign ownership of their businesses, but sadly, the United States does not exercise the same prudence. We sell our companies to them, and they almost never sell theirs to us. This tilted playing field has gutted America’s economic power.

What is enabling Chinese companies to go on a buying spree of American assets? Trade deficits – our ever-increasing trade deficit with China over the past 20 years is transferring America’s wealth to China and making millionaires out of many Chinese. In 1994, our trade deficit with China was $29.5 billion, and it grew to $83.8 by 2001 when China was granted “Most Favored Nation” status and admitted to the World Trade Organization. By 2004, it had doubled to $162.3 billion. After a slight dip in 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession, the trade deficit grew to $318.4 billion in 2013. If you add the annual trade deficits for the past 20 years, it totals $3.15 trillion. China now has over one billion serious savers and more than a million millionaires whose assets when combined provide billions to spend to buy our assets.

In addition, it is our trade deficit with Japan that has enabled Japanese corporations to go a buying spree of American assets since the 1980s when such companies as Columbia Pictures Entertainment was acquired by the Sony Corporation of Japan in 1989, and Bridgestone Corporation of Japan bought Firestone in 1988. However, our highest trade deficit with Japan of $84.3 billion in 2007 was nearly one third of our current trade deficit with China. While we are still transferring wealth to Japan, it is a democracy and doesn’t have armed missiles pointed in our direction.

In theory, we have the means to protect ourselves from this. CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, has the power to regulate, approve and deny these purchases. However, it is rare for the CFIUS to block deals. “During 2011, the most recent year with data available, the CFIUS was notified 111 times of deals that fell under its purview. Of those 111 covered deals, 40 were investigated and just five were withdrawn during that investigation…This year, Chinese companies have bought 10 companies worth $10.5 billion, says Thomson Reuters. That’s more than 20% of the 484 U.S. companies that have been bought by foreign companies this year worth $43.6 billion, Thomson Reuters says.”

The 2013 Annual Report to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states, “China presents new challenges for CFIUS, because investment by SOEs can blur the line between national security and economic security. The possibility of government intent or coordinated strategy behind Chinese investments raises national security concerns. For example, Chinese companies’ attempts to acquire technology track closely the government’s plan to move up the value-added chain. There is also an inherent tension among state and federal agencies in the United States regarding FDI from China. The federal government tends to be concerned with maintaining national security and protecting a rules-based, nondiscriminatory investment regime. The state governments are more concerned with local economic benefits, such as an expanded tax base and increased local employment, rather than a national strategic issue, especially as job growth has stagnated.”

The report, continues, “China has amassed the world’s largest trove of dollar-denominated assets. Although the true composition of China’s foreign exchange reserves, valued at $3.66 trillion, is a state secret, outside observers estimate that about 70 percent is in dollars. In recent years, China has become less risk averse and more willing to invest directly in U.S. land, factories, and businesses.”

Did we let the USSR buy our companies during the Cold War? No, we didn’t! We realized that we would be helping our enemy. This was pretty simple, common sense, but we don’t seem to have this same common sense when dealing with China.

China has a written plan to become the Super Power of the 21st Century. With regard to China’s military buildup, the report states, “PLA modernization is altering the security balance in the Asia Pacific, challenging decades of U.S. military preeminence in the region…The PLA is rapidly expanding and diversifying its ability to strike U.S. bases, ships, and aircraft throughout the Asia Pacific region, including those that it previously could not reach, such as U.S. military facilities on Guam.

It is time to wake up to the real dangers of our dangerously high trade deficits with China. The Communist Chinese government is not our friend. They are a geopolitical rival that is striving to replace the United States as the global hegemony. We should not let Chinese corporations acquire any more of our energy companies or technology-based companies if we want to maintain our national sovereignty.