HEALDSBURG – Small makers of custom electronics components who struggled through the downturn are benefitting from an uptick in the electronics manufacturing industry.
D.J. Grey Co. is finding its custom cable assemblies in demand as local high-tech and med-tech companies get back into gear.
“When you’re in a hurry to launch a new project, using a local supplier with whom you’re already familiar is often smarter than trying to jump-start operations with an overseas contractor,” said Marla Grey, owner, president and CEO of the 12–employee company.
D.J. Grey’s 200 customers include high-profile players like JDS Uniphase’s Flex Products, General Dynamics, Idex Health (formerly Rheodyne and Innovadyne) and Parker Hannifin (formerly CompuMotor).
They all use electronic control systems and need custom cables, internal wire harnesses, junction boxes, control chassis and cabinets.
“We don’t do the systems design, but we do supply the design for manufacturing. That is, we work with a company’s engineers to determine the best and most cost-effective way to build them,” she said.
“They think, ‘Well, D.J. Grey did a good job on our past prototypes, so they’ll do a good job on building a new unit in volume,’ and we do,” she said.
Started as a mom-and-pop shop in 1978 and incorporated in 1993, D.J. Grey has been a part of the shifting tech scene in the North Bay since the heyday of the computer revolution.
Early customers were Versatron, (now L3 Communications and General Dynamics), AFC (now Tellabs), Alcatel, Weigh-Tronix and many others in the telecom, aerospace and medical technology industries.
“People have this idea that when Agilent and Medtronic outsourced their manufacturing that the local manufacturing scene was over,” said Ms. Grey. That’s not true. It’s always been thriving in this area, but we tend to be low-key and insular.”
Admitting that she herself was as unaware of many local manufacturers as they were unaware of D.J. Grey, she welcomed the advent of 101MFG, a recently formed trade group.
“I’ve found suppliers and customers right here in the North Bay that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Currently in the works is a contract with a high-end laboratory equipment maker.
“As manufacturing picks up again, it’s great for all of us to know about each other. Now is a good time to put D.J. Grey on a larger map,” said Ms. Grey.