Innovative Solutions _______October 2006
In this issue
-- Feature Article: You CAN grow your business! Innovate!
-- On a Personal Note:
-- On the Lighter Side:
-- Article Policy

Dear Linda,

Welcome to the October 2006 edition of Innovative Solutions, the monthly newsletter from Innovative Thermal Solutions. If you find this information interesting or useful, please share it with your friends and colleagues.

Word count approx. 1000
Reading time approx. 4 minutes.

Feature Article: You CAN grow your business! Innovate!
The sad state of the US automotive manufacturing business is nearly always in the news. It is a major contributor to the sad state of the Michigan economy. So how would you like to be a tier two automotive supplier located here in Michigan? Not a pretty thought, right? Not so fast – even such a company can apply the principles I’ve been discussing recently to grow their business. Empire Electronics, a tier two supplier headquartered in Troy, Michigan has increased sales 360 percent in the last four years. In less than 10 years, Empire has risen to become a world-class, Tier-Two supplier of wiring harnesses, sockets, connectors, molded products and printed circuit boards to the automotive industry. How did they do it?

Innovation Empire adopted a strategy that blends innovation, aggressive cost control, exceptional quality, and strong service, while becoming more valuable and agile on behalf of their customers. Rather than being just a component supplier they added a full-service design department which focuses on performance, innovation, application and cost reductions. The design department focus is to think out of the box, especially when it comes to saving customers time and money. They also offer finite element analysis related to the products they produce to ensure design integrity and high quality.

Offshoring After losing a major contract due to non-competitive labor costs, Empire decided to look offshore. Initially, the company considered establishing a production facility in Mexico and as far away as India, where many other harness suppliers were locating. After a visit to Mexico and India, however, Steve Doman, chairman and CEO was not satisfied with the competitive environment of both countries. After investigating numerous options, Doman chose Honduras. A facility was built and manufacturing began in a 30,000-sq.-ft. assembly plant in 1997. Within one year of startup, all Empire wiring harness production was relocated to the Honduran plant. Over the next 5 years, the plant continued to expand and currently is at 220,000 sq feet and employs about 1400 workers. As an automotive supplier with a transportable manufacturing model capable of producing top-quality components anywhere in the world, Empire Electronics currently is exploring opportunities in China, while focusing on the details that drive flawless quality.

Here’s what Empire says about its business model. “We're integrating vertically - designing and making components that we once sourced elsewhere. For Empire, design is a strategic advantage that allows us to move beyond commodity supply of wire harnesses and connectors. We believe that as we keep stretching, we enhance not only our competitiveness, but also our customers' ability to compete. With this customer focus, we will emerge more often as a "must- have" suppler.”

Remember the key items we have been discussing in recent articles – innovation, outsourcing, offshoring. This approach has been phenomenally successful for Empire and it can be for you and your company. Call Innovative Thermal Solutions at (517) 424-7107 to discuss how to grow your business by placing more focus on design and innovation.

On a Personal Note:
As I write this, the wind is howling outside my window and there is snow in the air. Tonight we have our first “freeze” warning of the fall season. It’s hard to believe that it was only a week ago I went fishing with my neighbor on Lake Erie. It was one of those beautiful fall days – 70 degrees, sunny with a slight breeze. Yes, we did catch some fish (or should I admit that he caught some fish). We caught a nice batch of yellow perch, the largest measured over 12”. Then the next day we had a fish fry and enjoyed a few bottles of wine while sitting on the patio. And now I’m looking out the window at wind and snow. Don’t you just love it?

On the Lighter Side:
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." --Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." --Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M"Post-It" Notepads.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary; we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'" --Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools." --1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." --Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." --Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." --Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented." --Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction". --Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon". --Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon- Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Bill Gates, 1981

Article Policy
© 2006 Innovative Thermal Solutions. All Rights Reserved. You are free to use material from the Innovative Solutions newsletter in whole or in part, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear.

The attribution should read: "By Bob Utter of Innovative Thermal Solutions. Please visit Bob's web site at for additional articles and resources on engineering services and new product development." (Make sure the link is live if placed in an eZine or in a web site.)

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