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© ACM Electronics Production | August 25, 2011

Garage: 'Where all things begin'

The classic success story for electronics industry startups is to go through a gestation period in a low or no-rent place. Back in 1935, Will Hewlitt and Dave Packard worked out of a garage, as did Apple founders, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in 1976.
Even Michel Dell started his computer company from his cramped dorm room at the University of Texas in 1984. Likewise, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room in 2003.

Brian Gery may be well on the way to match those case histories with a success story of his own. He is the founder of Applied Control & Measurement, LLC, a company that emerged from its startup location in his basement and now appears to have outgrown its 2,500 sq. ft. of leased space in an office campus in Fountainville, PA.

Brian describes his company’s transformation from a PCB design house that created the circuitry for specialized industrial products into a production shop that also builds the boards that he designs. “We are involved in a number of industries, including energy-saving LED light engines that are replacing incandescent and fluorescent light fixtures. Other areas include PCBs for stress and strain measurements in concrete, motion control systems, high-speed automated machinery and more.”

“Soon, ACM customers were asking us not only to design the boards but build them as well,” Brian explains. “That’s when we went from prototyping to a full-scale production house. Manncorp helped us get there with their ‘be-kind-to-startups’, reasonably priced turnkey line. With the MC series pick and place, we now have the flexibility to run hundreds of different board assemblies -- each with mixes varying from 75 to 125 surface mount components and customer-targeted throughputs of hundreds or thousands of boards per month.”

Applied Control & Measurement, LLC, is a former PCB design start-up that now does volume assembly of the very boards it generates. Shown is Brian L. Gery, Owner and Founder (left), and Michael Weil, Director of Operations. They are alongside some of the Manncorp equipment that will achieve targeted production goals -- including the highly flexible MC series pick and place machine and the CR-4000C lead-free reflow oven with KIC Auto Focus Power software. / © ACM

Completing the line is the flexible MC-110 double-sided stencil printer and the computer-controlled CR-4000C lead-free conveyor reflow oven with KIC Auto Focus Power software.

Before committing to the equipment, Brian wanted positive assurance that it would produce the wide range of assemblies his company required. This was no problem since Manncorp has a similar line at American Competitive Institute (ACI), a hands-on training and demo facility sponsored by the U.S. Navy and located almost next door to Philadelphia’s International Airport. “We were completely sold -- immediately after a ‘try-before-you buy’ training session that allowed us to assemble our boards after less than a day’s instruction by the Manncorp technician,” Brian stated.

Recently, ACM crossed a major milestone when its first full-time executive, Michael Weil, was brought onboard as Director of Operations to streamline process flow and prepare the company for ISO 9001 certification. Marking the occasion were congratulatory handshakes. Then it was back to work.

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