Nolan Johnson spoke with Carey Burkett, VP of business development at Minneapolis-based Flexible Circuit Technologies. FCT recently signed a sales representation agreement authorizing Johnson Company to represent FCT in the Midwest region of the U.S. (read more here).
Burkett gave Nolan a more in-depth discussion of the reasons for this working partnership and what customers in the Midwest can expect with respect to customer care and service, as well as a nice complement between Flexible Circuits’ products and the Johnson Company line card.
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Nolan Johnson: Hi. Nolan Johnson here for I-Connect007. This afternoon, I’m speaking with Carey Burkett, vice president of business development for FCT. Carey, you just recently had a press release out in the news for Flexible Circuit Technologies joining forces, if you will, with Johnson Company. How is that structured?
Carey Burkett: We at Flexible Circuit Technologies were basically an internet-based company, and we began moving probably four or five years ago to a model where we would utilize manufacturing reps where it made sense for us in different territories within the United States. Now, we’re just going further down the line to get more committed to that model across the country. And what’s interesting about Johnson Company is they are local here in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area, where our headquarters is located, but they’re a larger rep firm. They have about 15 resources they cover for Minnesota down through Missouri and over to Southern Illinois. They have recently been picking up Chicago and Eastern Wisconsin as well.
They’re a large firm, well-respected. They’ve been on a great growth curve. And what’s interesting is our owner and their owner have known each other for years. They knew us when we were a smaller organization, and today, Flexible Circuit Technologies—with our U.S.- and Asia-based revenues—are building ourselves toward a $100 million company. Johnson has grown significantly, and we just looked at each other, and it felt like it was a good time to join forces given we hadn’t had representation in the territory that they cover.
Johnson: What’s this arrangement going to mean for your Midwest customers? What are they going to see that’s new and different?
Burkett: Anytime that you bring on a rep firm, number one is just coverage and customer care. It can be very supportive of that. When our office is here in Minneapolis, we’re a smaller office with our application engineers and support staff, but we cover all the U.S.; we’re traveling all the time, and we can get things started with a customer. But to have a rep, that’s local and is going into the account to provide customer care to check in and see how we’re doing, what we’re doing, and making sure that we’re hitting everything we need to hit to please our customer; it’s very supportive to what we do. But the other thing is Johnson also has their own account base, so they’re introducing us to new organizations, prospects, and customers. These could be customers where they’ve had great relationships, and all of a sudden, with us being a new line that they’re representing, they can get us introduced as a just another offering that they can bring to the table, so those are the types of things that are happening.
The other thing I would say is that with Johnson and the other lines they carry—a lot of different things related to components and so forth—their lines are very hot topics with what’s going on in electronics today. Those components have to go somewhere, and often given miniaturization and other mobility and hot topics within electronics, flexible circuits can become the packager if you will. They’re going to place those components onto something, and in a lot of cases, given the new trends, you see your growth in flex, rigid-flex, and flexible heaters. They have to put those components onto something, and then beyond that, we do assembly all the way to complete box builds. This gives Johnson kind of a full complement that goes beyond what they offer today. We just felt like it was a good teaming relationship to put together.
Johnson: In the press release, you’re quoted as saying that the respective strategies of the two companies align. Based on what you just said, that sounds to be very true.
Burkett: Yes. One of the things, as I’ve worked over the last five years putting together some of these relationships, is I’ve met with a lot of different manufacturing rep companies, and they come in all sizes and shapes and can carry different lines, and some do just an outstanding job out there. But one of the things I’ll say about Johnson Company and Mark Peterson, as I mentioned, is they’ve grown to a firm where there are 15 people. But the other thing, when you look at the strategies behind the lines that he’s taking on, is they’re looking at high technology, wireless, consumer medical, internet of things, wearable, and low power. As I mentioned before, given the miniaturization, size reduction of products, weight reduction, and complex form factors, that’s where flex circuits, rigid-flex, and flexible heaters come into play.
Their strategies with the lines they carry to address those hot topics that are going on in electronics today meant a lot to me, and I just felt like Mark and his company are very well thought out with where they’re going as a rep firm and with the strategies that they’re talking to their customers to be on those forefront topics, and then we just fit well into that. We’re excited about the possibilities of what’s coming together and what that can do for customers here in the Midwest.
Johnson: It sounds like great news for both of you. Carey, thank you for taking the time to speak with me.
Burkett: You bet. Thank you.
Johnson: Once again, this is Nolan Johnson for I-Connect007, speaking with Carey Burkett, vice president of business development at Flexible Circuit Technology. Thanks for listening.