How An Electronics Engineer Started A $500K/Month PCB Assembly Business

Suresh Patel
$500K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
Mermar Electronic...
from Hesperia, CA, USA
started June 1974
$500,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
832K
alexa rank
317
followers
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How An Electronics Engineer Started A $500K/Month PCB Assembly Business

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

I’m Suresh Patel, Senior Sales Engineer at Mermar Electronics, a California-based PCB Assembly and Manufacturing company established in 1974. It is delivering its PCB assembly services across the globe to many reputed clients. Our range of services includes

  • PCB Assembly
  • PCB Manufacturing
  • PCB Prototyping
  • BGA Assembly
  • SMT Assembly
  • Through-hole assembly
  • PCB design
  • Electromechanical assembly
  • Complete Box Builds / System Builds / Integration
  • And more

We are proud to support “Made in America”! Our client base includes major medical device manufacturers, defense equipment manufacturers, aerospace equipment manufacturers, telecommunication device manufacturers, etc.

Consistency in product quality and regular upgradation of the latest tools and machinery are the primary reason we can retain our customer base year to year.

Currently, we plan to scale up our assembly service to serve more clients worldwide.

We are generating around $2M revenue each month, and with upscaling we are aiming to achieve $5M revenue every month! Currently, we are a team of ~25 people, and through facility expansion, we are planning to touch the $5M figure in revenue. We hope we will be able to achieve that figure very soon. Till now we have served more than 100 unique clients, and we would like to thank them all for believing in us, and taking this company where it is today!

mermar-electronics-inc

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I started my career as an electronics engineer, helping in the PCB assembly process. I always thought about setting up my own company as I had good knowledge of electronics know-how and always had a passion for entrepreneurship. Being from a family of entrepreneurs, I was always interested in taking risks and doing something exciting. Back in that time, there were very few electronics manufacturers, and I wanted to be a part of “Made in America”, so as I grew my experience and had enough funds to set up a small factory and survive at least for a few months, I started “Mermar Electronics” in 1974. I still remember how special that day was for me and my loved ones!

With a lot of people’s help and our client’s support, we managed to get Mermar Electronics where it is today! Below is the image of our current PCB Assembly plant located in Hesperia, CA.

mermar-electronics-inc

I feel so proud whenever I look back at the progress Mermar Electronics has made. There were days I thought of quitting this idea, but I’m glad that I didn’t. The initial days of the business were tough and challenging. Sometimes, you pitch a lot of clients, but only a few trust a business in its infant stage. I’m so thankful to my initial clients who trusted in me, and my company, and took a chance to work with us.

Howbeit, our team of IPC-trained employees ensures circuit board assemblies are compiled to the standards of IPC-A-610. We hold ISO 9001:2015 quality management system since 1999, and it is renewed through regular audits every once in a while.

We are also registered with the U.S. State Department as an ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and EAR (Export Administration Regulations), etc.

As an electronics contract manufacturer, all our circuit boards, assemblies, and prototypes are gone through a triple inspection process – visual, electrical, and technological inspection to validate their quality.

Being from a family of entrepreneurs, I was always interested in taking risks and doing something exciting.

Continual improvement in quality and capabilities is one of the prime factors where Mermar Electronics is now!

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

We serve clients from the Aerospace industry and the Medical industry. All of our clients are into manufacturing electronic devices or high-end equipment used in Aerospace and Medical treatments. Any industry that is into medical equipment manufacturing or aerospace equipment manufacturing is our ideal client.

Well, when we receive any quote from the customer; we will add it to our internal CRM to manage their quotation. The technical team will go through their quotation, and prepare its schedule, quotation, and expected timeframe & send it back to the customer. With mutual understanding, we will start working on the quotation.

To understand the prototyping process, let me give you an example - Imagine a customer wants to develop any product; first, we design its circuit board; then we create a schematic design which includes information about materials, components, and hardware requirements in the board functionality and attributes.

Once the first schematic has been finished, our team will run a preliminary check and in-depth check for potential errors. Side by side the bill of materials has been created which includes all the components and materials required for manufacturing. After gathering all the parts, the routing design of the circuit board has been created. Then the printing of inner layers, aligning of the layers, plating, imaging, etching, solder mask, silkscreen, and more would take place.

After sourcing all required components, the next stage is assembly in which we integrate the components into the circuit board. We use different methods for it like solder paste stenciling, pick and place, reflow soldering, and more. After that, a triple inspection process and functionality test has been conducted for finalizing the prototype.

Once it is finalized, we will move forward with the full production run and delivery.

Describe the process of launching the business.

When I had enough funds to get manufacturing equipment, lease land for setting up the plant and survive a few months, I spent most of my time on market research, competitor analysis, and funds investment. It was like sharpening the sword before the battle. I kept researching the market, competitors, and fund investment, and that helped me get good business from day one of launching the business.

Our first client came through a reference of a close friend, and we exceeded their expectations, and we delivered the same quality service to every client of ours thereafter. Business directories and networking meetings helped us a lot in spreading good words about our business in the initial days.

Working on your idea daily for one or two hours is the best way to get started. You can edit a badly written page, but you can’t edit a blank page! So, get started!

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Since the launch of our business, our only aim is to help our clients succeed in their business. Whenever we put a bid for any project, we study the clients’ requirements thoroughly and quote accordingly; this trick always works. It helped us win initial gigs for our business, and then we slowly started to earn a reputation in the industry, and the rest is history!

It is mandatory to keep pace with your competitors to be in the market. As a marketing channel, we have approached redesign and search engine optimization for our website as per the latest standards and webmaster guidelines to reach a wider potential audience.

We have witnessed wholesome organic growth and leads through it. Here’s a look at our growth since we started working with them:

mermar-electronics-inc

One another factor that worked for us is the client service. Answering every little query of our client nicely is the secret to our customer retention!

As the user base is growing, so does our conversion rate. We are getting more, and most importantly, relevant inquiries these days. We haven’t yet opted for paid ads, rather, we are investing in organic growth. We had to wait to see the results, but it was worth it. Below is the graph of our goal conversion.

mermar-electronics-inc

This growth was possible with our organic SEO campaign, content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing campaigns. We are glad that we decided to do SEO for our website. It has brought us unexpected results.

Writing guest articles for electronics publications has worked well for us. I often contribute technical guest articles to Electronic Design, EEWorld, EET Asia, and other reputed publications. I’m maintaining a linktree of some of my favorite articles on which you can read some of my best works, which is bringing good traffic to our website.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Currently, in July 2022, we are doing pretty well in terms of revenue and profits. Our in-warranty rejection rate for assembly defects has averaged below 0.7%. We have witnessed almost double potential traffic on our website as compared to 2019, and this figure is constantly growing.

We have also increased users’ average time on our website by 25%, so that is also helping us in getting more leads. We managed to get more than double the conversion rate year to year. The only goal for us, right now, is to scale up, so we can serve more clients.

Our social media presence is also helping us in the business by supporting our clients anytime anywhere for any kind of queries.

In the long run, we want to expand our state-of-art PCB fabrication plant and want to add more products to cover the major market of PCB assembly, prototyping, and fabrication.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I remember around a few years back, we missed a major client because the client wanted a very large quantity assembly, and we weren’t able to fulfill that quantity back then. Since then, our target is to constantly scale up. We are proud to say that we can assemble around 50% more quantity than what we did two years ago.

Now, as we are ready to assemble large quantities, we are attracting more clients. We have expanded our production area and added advanced machinery to produce more PCBs in lesser time. We had to hire some more engineers to keep up with the orders, and to work on the incoming orders for PCB Assembly and Fabrication. So, we have scaled in terms of land area, machinery, and manpower. We are already working on expanding it further!

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We get a lot of leads through our website. Our initial website lacked a lot of features and usability, so later, we approached to redesign and develop the website with WordPress. We got improvements in user experience which helped us get more conversions. Email marketing and SEO helped us expand our website’s user base.

One more factor I would like to mention is social media marketing, which helped us gain more reach. It spread the word about our business in our target market. Google Analytics helped us track our website users properly, and based on that we planned the readjustment in strategy!

Moreover, I’m often contributing my knowledge to major electronic publications, which helped us to create a great reparation for Mermar Electronics! The right mix of SEO, UX design, social media marketing, and email marketing worked like a charm for us.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

My only advice to young entrepreneurs is just get started; No matter where are you. Working on your idea daily for one or two hours is the best way to get started. Start saving up the survival fund. Spare time for your idea every day, and one day you will be able to work on your idea full-time. You may face a lot of challenges, but they will help you to think out of the box.

Remember, you can edit a badly written page, but you can’t edit a blank page! So, get started!

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are always in search of a responsible person who can help us in expanding Mermar Electronics. If you feel like you will be a good fit, we are waiting for your resume at [email protected].

Where can we go to learn more?

You can learn more about us on our website Mermar Electronics. Feel free to get in touch with me at [email protected].

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Suresh Patel, Founder of Mermar Electronics Inc
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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