Domestic Contract Manufacturing Firm Vaults onto Inc. 500 List

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Contract Manufacturer Zentech Manufacturing experiences 574% growth since 2000, despite stiff overseas competition

With the topic of offshore outsourcing so hot, few would expect a domestic company specializing in contract manufacturing to make Inc. Magazine’s top 500 list of fastest growing privately held companies for 2004. Yet with 574% growth over four years, The Baltimore, Maryland-based Zentech Manufacturing Inc. ranked #255 in annual sales growth out of more than 500,000 businesses contacted and vetted by financial statements.

Zentech is a full service contract manufacturer offering high speed, precision assembly of all types of printed circuit boards for the defense, medical, aerospace, industrial, telecom, and computing industries. The company also provides a full range of PCB testing and mechanical assembly services.

Although they count Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Becton Dickinson among their clients, Zentech strives to provide clients of any size a responsive, one-to-one, partnership experience.

“What sets Zentech apart is its willingness to partner with you to get the job done -- not just a premium facility, the best equipment, technicians, and technique,” says Byron Knowles, founder of Aerospace Technology Group (ATG), an aerospace supplier that has relied on Zentech for contract manufacturing over the past six years. “At a typical contract manufacturer, you’re just another customer work order.”

Recently, ATG was bidding for a contract with a major aerospace OEM to implement a next generation, electromechanical window shade. To remain in the bidding process, ATG was asked to produce a working prototype quickly, before they started developing the controller board. ATG presented their dilemma to Zentech.

“Drawing on their design and development resources, Zentech produced a working prototype at a price that enabled us to win the contract,” says Knowles. “They compressed six months of development into six weeks.”

“Most contract houses say, ‘Give us your specs and we’ll make it for you,’” continues Knowles. “But Zentech can not only help develop your specs, but also make sure the result is manufacturable. They ensure our motors comply with FAA regulation and test for EMI shielding, for example. It’s a rare relationship.”

At Zentech’s new 42,000-sq. ft. facility, which is designed for high quality circuit board assembly, a flexible, continuous flow, contract manufacturing process allows for on-the-fly modifications to meet changing customer needs and demands. A fully integrated Enterprise Resource Planning/Material Requirements Planning (ERP/MRP) system streamlines data, scheduling, and communication.

“We’re dealing with changing regulatory issues and individual customer standards in our industry,” says Knowles. “There’s always a need to adapt, modify, or add -- but most contract manufacturers will not. Zentech has worked with us on short notice, no matter what the lead time or customer demand. They are more our partner than vendor.”

When ATG found its customers pressing them to implement stringent supply chain management criteria, Knowles felt confident in Zentech’s zero-defect approach. This includes not only quality systems such as Automated Optical Inspection (AOI), high tech selective soldering equipment, and temperature, humidity, and electro-static discharge (ESD) controls, but also a systematic process to prevent and eliminate errors in processes, equipment, facilities, training, and personnel.

“As we grow and develop future product, we rely on Zentech,” says Knowles. “They’ve been so essential to our success; we’ve actually built our business around them. Their ability to see potential in our product, adapt to our needs, and get the job done right is unique in contract manufacturing.

Zentech is ISO 9000:2000 certified, as well as ANSI and RAB accredited.

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Bill Kresslein
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