Private Woman Owned Small Business
Industry: Electronics & Aerospace
Products: Electrical Noise/Interference Components
Bob and Julie Ydens’ precision manufacturer shapes a modern workforce to meeting the exacting demands of blue-chip aerospace and military OEMs.
Many people are guilty of turning on their cell phones and texting while on an airplane. Bob and Julie Ydens make sure those signals don’t interfere with the airplane’s electronic functions at 30,000 feet.
An electrical engineer, Bob Ydens worked for TRW and was in charge of design and manufacturing of electromagnetic interference field filters and connectors. Ydens took his knowledge and expertise and made the leap, starting his own company, which still had ties to the aerospace and military. "I had been reporting to TRW’s youngest VP and I wasn’t going anywhere within the company," says Ydens. "I needed to get out and do my own thing. My wife Julie and I decided to turn our expertise into a private company and we made it profitable."
Twenty-one years later, EMI Solutions is a Woman Owned Small Business that is AS9100C and ISO9001 certified. They have a wide range of customers who regard their manufacturing of EMI filters and connectors as some of the best in the business. "Our niche is dealing with military and commercial aerospace companies, high end medical devices, and industrial companies," says Ydens. "Our products give the best bang for the buck when they are integrated into expensive equipment that requires protection from radiated and conducted EMI noise."
A focus on quality and performance has set the company apart. "We manufacture a wide variety of press-in FlexFilter inserts and filtered connectors that eliminate the high-frequency interference that can interrupt vital communications," says Ydens. "Our products are UL-approved and also meet very high military and commercial aerospace standards that are significantly more stringent. Our EMI filter products are often retrofitted into existing connectors, boxes, and various modules used for in-flight navigation and communications systems. They eliminate electronic noise in aircraft generated by transmitting cell phones and other electronic devices."
Ydens’ small but agile company avoids high volume production while focusing on cross industry opportunities when possible. "We don’t have the manufacturing capacity to build millions of units at a time," says Ydens. "We can, however, resolve their EMI issues by developing better solutions, so we often consult with the auto and medical industries to fix some of their current designs."
The company looks for employees with baseline exposure to a manufacturing environment, then up-train them to the exacting standards required. Much of the work is done under a microscope and assembly is done in-house. For Ydens, it’s crucial for workers to have some experience so the product to pass environmental data testing for vibration, dust, humidity, voltage spikes and more. "We typically bring in people who have a certain amount of skills and train them to the specifics of what we do," says Ydens. "It’s rare to find people in this niche so we look for those that have worked making military grade products. Our QA manager, for example, worked for a military electronics company. Typically, it takes about three months to fully train our assemblers to be at the level of quality we need."
According to Ydens, the company has seen 40 percent growth this year, and recently hired additional manufacturer’s sales representatives to help them find new customers who want the high level of manufacturing quality that has put them at the top of their field.
Needs: "We need to focus more on sales and marketing campaigns," says Ydens. "We’re a small player in a small niche so we deal with billion dollar companies as competitors. For us, the sales and marketing cycle is a critical aspect in keeping and taking away business from our competition."
Challenges: "We’re playing against some big players in the industry," says Ydens. "They have marketing budgets that are larger than our general sales, but we are more nimble, reactive and provide accessible technical expertise and quicker deliveries."
Opportunities: "Because our core products are so niche, there are more opportunities by diversifying these products to new customers who might be buying from somewhere else," says Ydens. "We also have zero debt and really good employees. We’ve been constantly upgrading for the last 20 years and have become the company to go to if you want something special."