Bernie Kessler: Pioneering Spirit Then and Now


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bernie1977a.jpgGoldman: It was called IPC Expo then, because it was just the PCB manufacturing side of things, no assembly. I was at that first meeting in Chicago, too. We were very worried as to whether or not it was a good idea.

Kessler: Yes, I was worried. However, this is a great opportunity to tell my story. If you remember, I voted against the motion to have this Expo every other year. I spoke to the issue of having it every year, and then I offered an amendment that we have it every year, and that amendment was defeated. It was the single time within IPC that we really had a different perspective between the major suppliers and the small suppliers, like me.

I was fairly well integrated into the NEPCON show, at a very good priority position. These guys, the major suppliers, wanted to go to Munich for productronica every other year and then have this show every other year. But a small supplier like me could not go to Munich. That meant if we jumped out of NEPCON into an every two year enterprise, we lost our position at NEPCON.

bernie1981.jpgGoldman: And position was everything at NEPCON.

Kessler: Position was everything at the time, and so I voted in favor of the annual. Well, I lost. But we were so successful with that first Expo that they then decided to do it on an annual basis.

Goldman: So you won in the end?

Kessler: I lost all the battles, but I won the war. Now I look at this and I am absolutely amazed. And I think I miss the pioneer spirit, which seems to be gone, because we've already reached a whole series of plateaus. We were concerned about the first plateau and now we're well past that.

Goldman: And it's a regular phenomenon now...

berniek_1997expo7.jpgKessler: That's right. And by the way, I will say this about the IPC meetings: They seem to be getting better and better in terms of organization, in terms of the technology related to the meeting, the websites, etc. I'm very pleased at what I did over the years at IPC. I think the technology is way, way beyond me at the moment. It was normally slightly ahead of me, but now... [laughs]

I just had a conversation with a visitor from Europe, regarding the difference in the levels of technologies, while looking at the people in the hall of fame and what they're noted for. They have me down as having expertise in raw materials.

Goldman: From your affiliation with Mica Corporation?

Kessler: At Mica, yes. But the raw material was limited at the time, very limited. You had a paper base that we did not manufacture and of which I knew nothing. We had epoxy paper, epoxy glass, and we were just introducing, as advanced materials, polyimide, and some people were playing with Teflon, but that was the extent of it. Today the technology is far broader and far more advanced, and so I come here with a great deal of admiration for the progress, as an industry, that we have made. And I enjoy having been at the beginnings, where life may have been a hell of a lot more hectic, but, I suspect, much simpler.

Goldman: I think you’re right, Bernie. I’m glad we had this chance to talk. Thanks so much for sharing your story of the early days.

Kessler: You are very welcome.

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