For those not familiar with Pasternack, please give us your “elevator speech” about the company — what customer needs are you aiming to fill?
Pasternack Enterprises provides the electronics industry with the broadest and deepest inventory of RF, microwave and millimeter wave components and assemblies that are shipped the same day they are ordered and provides the engineer and technical buyer with a differentiated level of technical support and customer service. We focus our attention on the engineer-in-need and are continuously expanding our product selection and deepening our resources to serve as a one-stop-RF-shop.
Is it a fair analogy to think of Pasternack as the Amazon.com of the RF/microwave industry?
I’d love to agree with that, but I don’t think it really does justice to compare the two — even once you get past the slight difference in the revenue numbers. Amazon would like to make everything in the world available online. Our aim is more modest: we just want to make every RF component and assembly in the world available to engineers all over the globe. That’s a big enough chore, and we work at it everyday. But it doesn’t just stop at product availability. Our engineer customer often needs more than product. He or she needs support to help select the right parts to fit the application, and it can come in the form of a technician in our sales office, an RF applications engineer or one of our senior product management engineers. We also are continuously updating and upgrading over 35,000 product data sheets to allow the engineers to make their selections and validate the quality of the parts they need.
What’s the scope of your operation now: roughly how many products, how many customers, how many countries?
Our customers purchased from 100 different countries in 2015, and Pasternack has become a global resource to engineers everywhere. We serve well over 50,000 customers and maintain regular contact with hundreds of thousands of engineers. Our operations recently expanded to China, where we opened a facility and launched a Chinese language e-commerce website. Pasternack has 19 partners covering 39 countries who are RF technical experts to provide local support. We know that the needs of engineers are similar no matter where they live in the world.
Recently you’ve had quite a few press releases announcing new parts. Tell us about some of the additions you’ve made.
Pasternack has a long history and a leading position in the RF interconnect market, and we continue to make investments that give us an unmatched capability for cable assemblies. However, in the past several years, we have vastly expanded our active and passive product lines to the extent that we have transitioned from a market perception of being an “interconnect” to an “RF components” house. Our expanded lines of amplifiers, mixers, switches, oscillators and others now represent an extensive offering in the market. Amplifiers and waveguides have been significantly enhanced, and the range of product that is available for same day shipment is unparalleled.
You mentioned expanding in China. How are you developing the market?
The China market for RF components is the single largest market in the world. While we have been selling into the market for many years, we recently added staff and a facility in-country, and expansion plans are underway. We have dramatically increased our business with local support and will remain dedicated to the market.
Are there other regions of the world that you are targeting? What strategies are you using?
We think of Pasternack as a global business. Our digital footprint is well established and continues to grow, and we can serve customers anywhere in the world 24/7. In addition to China, we are heavily invested in Japan and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. We have significant resources in Europe and have benefited from a long-term participation in the region. Again, the needs of the engineer are no different in any other part of the world from North America. Engineers with urgent requirements for product and technical support need a source they can reliably depend on for quality product shipped immediately, to resolve a myriad of unplanned situations that come up everyday in an engineer’s life.
You mentioned cable assemblies earlier. It seems that custom cables are needed almost as much as standard cables, as there are endless applications for different connector combinations and lengths. You seem to treat the custom cable about the same as a standard cable. How do you manage that?
You’re right! We don’t think in terms of custom and standard at Pasternack. Our mission is to provide the market with their RF component and assembly requirements. We don’t determine what’s standard and what’s custom. I know that’s not conventional, but it has enabled us to create a resource that is unique in the industry. An engineer can define a custom configuration, and Pasternack will create a part number/description, develop a data sheet, provide a quote, assemble, test and ship on the same day. And now, that engineer can do it all online with our new Cable Creator Tool™. This tool empowers the customer to take complete control of the cable order. By the way, it won’t let the engineer make a mistake and order an assembly that technically won’t work.
What is the Pasternack RF Institute and what do you hope to achieve with it?
Pasternack is much more than just a parts supplier to our customers. We are a knowledge base with expert staff primed and ready to provide the best information and tools to make the best design and component/device decisions with the challenges our customers face. Sometimes this requires helping our customers with learning tools, so they have greater control, enabled by having that hard-to-track-down knowledge.
Having set high expectations for service, what are your biggest day-to-day challenges?
We are continuously raising the expectations for our performance. Our sales and service teams are continuously engaging with customers to better understand their needs and to make their experience as seamless as possible. Our product management team is challenged to continue the curating of inventories that anticipate and fill the needs of the market, which is a gargantuan task given the explosion of applications and end markets requiring RF technology. We are continuously improving the customer experience with our e-commerce websites and offering tools to make it intuitive and fast.
Our role in the supply chain is to address the demand of the engineer-in-need who resides in non and small production segments of the product life cycle, and we have dedicated the business to filling that significant gap in the market.
The electronics industry seems to be undergoing a phase of tremendous consolidation. How does that affect your business?
One of the main issues with mergers, acquisitions and business restructuring is that the supply of components can be disrupted. This is inconvenient for everyone in the process, but for design and system engineers, it can be a tremendous headache. This is why Pasternack has all of its wide array of products in stock and available for such rapid shipping. We understand the pain of sourcing a product last minute and work hard to ease the process for our customers. So just like any other design challenge, upheavals in the RF/microwave industry just make us more valuable to our customers.