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Etratech: Exporting to success

In Burlington, Ont., Etratech Inc. has moved from being a tiny company with two employees, as it was in 1989, to being a small company with 130 employees

Etratech makes small electronic control devices for home appliances and cars. Turning out 3.5 million units a year, its parts are in Black & Decker cordless lawn mowers, General Electric clothes dryers, Electrolux refrigerators and Chrysler PT Cruisers. Ninety per cent of Etratech's products are exported, about half to the United States and half to Sweden.

Making semiconductor components is not unique. But as Michael Desnoyers, Etratech's president and chief executive officer points out, a fast turnaround time and fast shipping -- anywhere in North America within two days -- puts the company in a special niche. It's not on the scale of major Far East manufacturers that can beat it marginally on cost. But it is relatively close to its customers with products that range in price from $2 to $25, Desnoyers says.

"What makes us most competitive is that we are a total turnkey facility for our customers. From the customer's standpoint, we are a total one-stop shop.

"We have many competitors, but they subcontract work out to other agencies.

"In dealing with us, they are dealing with one organization that is responsible for the project from design to manufacturing and after-market support.

"We are at a size now that is about right for the fast design, fast production and fast shipping service that we offer. Especially in high tech, where products have to get to market fast, we have plateaued at the right size. And, as a privately held company, we have no bureaucratic structure. When a customer wants a decision, he can get it within minutes That's our competitive edge."

© The Globe and Mail

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