Transition from Father to Daughter

Electro Soft, Inc has been proud to serve our clients for the last 34 years under our CEO, James Wallace. What was once a small business has now become one of the largest independent contract manufacturers in the country. Without a dedicated and hardworking team behind Jim, Electro Soft would not be as successful as it is today.

After three decades of hard work, we are pleased to announce that Jim’s daughter, Karla, is now following in her father’s footsteps and taking on the role of CEO. Karla, as dedicated as her father, has been with the company since its founding in 1986. She did step away from Electro Soft to pursue an 11 year corporate career before returning to execute the succession plan. Since she was young, she has always done her best to contribute and help her father with company tasks. She grew an interest in manufacturing solutions and has worked her way up from stripping wires to implementing the ISO 9000 program and ultimately negotiating contracts on behalf of the business. Karla takes pride in the industry and is determined to bring products to fruition for all clients.  

As someone who understands the hard work and commitment it takes to execute all levels within the company, Karla is excited to serve as the new CEO of Electro Soft, and Jim is proud to pass his position to his daughter. Karla looks forward to continuing to provide excellent service and helping both you and your company with any future needs.

Get to know your new CEO! Did you know that Karla…

  • Sits on multiple boards – Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP) that raises money and trains attorney advocates to fight for abused and neglected children; Carson Valley Children’s Aid – a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization providing an array of services with a focus on children and youth including but not limited to – prevention; home, school and community-based interventions; behavioral health treatment; foster and residential care; and education in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware counties; and Drexel Board of Governors 
  • Is an active member of the Museum of the American Revolution Corporate Advisory Council
  • Has her Bachelor’s of Science in Business Logistics from Penn State and her Master of Business Administration from Drexel University
  • Owned an online business for 8 years WHILE working full-time in a corporate career.
  • Worked in supply chain logistics for IKEA, Gap, and Metrologic Instruments (bought by Honeywell)
  • Was a trained dancer for 15 years and taught dance through high school and college

As a dedicated employee retires, we learn his incredible life story

A group photo from Bien Dinh's retirement party at Electro Soft Inc. He was a POW during the Vietnam War.

Bien Dinh, second from left, rear, poses with his former GWL coworkers. Seated are GWL founder George W. Longwell and his wife, Carol.


Earlier this week, the Electro Soft team celebrated the retirement of PCB Assembler Bien Dinh, a 17-year employee of GWL Technologies. Bien worked with us since 2017, when we acquired GWL.  But we didn’t learn this dedicated employee’s incredible story until recently.

A picture of Bien Dinh, who was a POW during the Vietnam War.

Bien Dinh poses at his Electro Soft Inc. workbench. We recently learned he was a POW during the Vietnam War.

Bien had been a member of the Vietnamese police force for nine years when, during the Vietnam War, he was captured by North Vietnamese forces and imprisoned. He spent five years as a POW, allowed to eat just one bowl of rice per day. Shortly after his release, Bien was captured again and spent another five months in captivity.

Thanks to a political asylum program, Bien and his family were able to relocate from their native country to the United States. They moved first to Arizona, where Bien’s sponsor resided. Later they moved to Texas, before finally settling in Pennsylvania. Since living here, he has returned to Vietnam four times to visit his parents.

Two years ago, Bien became a United States citizen.

This holiday season, we are thankful to Bien for his quiet and brave spirit. In the short time he’s been a member of the Electro Soft family, he has been a dedicated and hardworking individual. Always kind and focused on the job at hand, Bien carried with him an incredible story that very few people even knew about.

We at Electro Soft wish Bien and his family a wonderful and joyous holiday season, and a very happy retirement.



Electro Soft Named One of Philly Region’s Largest Family-Owned Businesses, Honored at Conference

Electro Soft Inc. is proud to have been among the 98 family-owned businesses honored by The Philadelphia Business Journal during its inaugural Family-Owned Business Conference on Oct. 4.

Philadelphia largest family-owned business

EVP Karla Trotman accepted Electro Soft’s Award at the PBJ Family-Owned Business Conference.


In a September email announcing the honor, Business Journal Market President and Publisher William Smith called Electro Soft “part of that major economic engine” that is family business.  “We’re thrilled that you will be included in the Largest Family-Owned Businesses list,” he wrote. “The economies of the United States and our region would come to a screeching halt without family business.”

The conference included panel discussions and interviews packed with tips.

During an interview with Bill Mignucci Jr., CEO of Di Bruno Bros., Mignucci said you need to be “respected first, liked second” when working in the family business. Respect is

important, he said, because you may need to someday fire a family member — like he did.

Mignucci said one of the things the family created is a 1-page Family Constitution that lays out expectations. Its purpose, he said, is to let family members understand that they will be “held to a higher standard” — and it includes an organizational/accountability chart. Di Bruno Bros. also has a Brand Book that “describes the DNA” of their business, he said.

Other speakers included Bill Yoh, owner of Day & Zimmerman and Chairman of Yoh; Benny Brownstein, founder of the Brownstein Group; Jim Wood, Executive Director of the Initiative for Family Business and Entrepreneurship; and many more.

Panel members included Adam Levine, Partner, Joseph Levine and Sons; E.F. Bud Hansen III, CEO, Normandy Farm; Amada DeCiello, Partner, Private Client Services Group Cozen O’Conner; and Christin Cardone-McClave, Chief People Officer, Cardone Industries.

What Happens When Small-Business Owners Meet? Big Ideas

A picture of Karla Trotman and Paul Downs, entreprenuer and author of Boss Life.

Electro Soft Executive Vice President Karla Trotman poses with columnist, entrepreneur and Boss Life author Paul Downs.

As a lifelong learner, I’m always hungry to devour knowledge in its many forms. Years ago, I used to read the Small Business blog featuring a man by the name of Paul Downs. I didn’t look into the details of his business. I just knew that he was a woodworking craftsman who would detail life as an entrepreneur, but from a completely honest perspective.

Years later, his book, Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business, popped up on a book summary and I was reminded of him. I read the book and became completely enamored with, again, his level of honesty. From his special-needs son to his cashflow issues, there was nothing taboo. That is what differentiated his book from others. He was willing to really dig into the ugly side of business ownership, something that other entrepreneurs steer clear of.

After reading that book, I had to know what happened in the end. So I went online to reach out … only to find that his company was in Bridgeport, PA, eleven miles from our offices here at Electro Soft. I sent Paul an email. He responded right away and even invited me to come to his facility to meet some of the people in the book.

Both Paul and I had to reschedule, but we finally made the time to meet. I drove out to his company. It was housed in an old brick building, subdivided into workspaces. There was an old-fashioned freight elevator with an operator who gave me a ride up to the 4th floor, where Paul Downs Cabinetmakers occupies an entire floor.

With no front desk or sign to guide me, I randomly wandered through the office until I found someone to direct me to Paul. Immediately, he invited me on a tour to meet his staff and to see firsthand the workshop that I had caught a glimpse of from pictures throughout the book.

As I was introduced to everyone, I noticed a few changes from the book. First, he had since hired someone to handle all online collateral, which I thought was brilliant. The internet draws most of his traffic and Google won’t crawl a stale website, so fresh content is a must.

Second, the names of the people he referenced in the book were definitely changed to protect the innocent. But there they were — sitting in the office with the sliding glass door, which is referenced in the text.

The workshop was huge. It had exposed brick, and hardwood floors and everything was coated with the sweet smell of freshly cut wood. Paul explained some of his techniques, and the reason he uses veneers: solid wood expands and contracts, so the veneers make for a better product. He showed me incredibly detailed and well-crafted projects that were designed for some of the world’s top businesses.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” – John Donne

After the tour, we went back to his office.  We chatted candidly about our businesses and shared our issues and goals. I asked him detailed questions about Google Ads, which he still uses, only with a drastically reduced budget. I asked him about the CEO peer group Vistage — he is still a member and offered to connect me with the leader.  I asked him about his family — everyone is doing well.

He spent the rest of our time giving me a “behind the kimono” view of his business. It was an incredible display of camaraderie; a recognition of how lonely and difficult life can be in small business. But I can also say that this camaraderie is the magic of small business. Paul Downs hears from people from all over the world who have read his book — and he takes the time to speak and connect with each and every person.

That’s because he understands what it’s like to be a small-business owner. His journey to transform his struggling business into a viable entity, and his message of hope, resonate with so many people who dream of success.

If you’re a small-business owner, you should take the time to reach out to other small-business owners, too. Network with them; find out what they’ve learned, and share your own knowledge and challenges. Even if you’re both in completely different types of business — like carpentry and electronics contract manufacturing — one of you might have a solution to help the other. At the very least, you can commiserate over your struggles.

Because in the end, we learn more from each other than we’d ever learn on our own. And by forging these types of reciprocal relationships, we can ensure that as our businesses grow, so do we.



Join us next Friday for Manufacturing Day 2018

It’s almost time for Manufacturing Day 2018, and we hope you’ll join us on Friday, Oct. 5th as we open up Electro Soft’s doors to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.

We’ll be hosting three tours throughout the day: 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Each tour will be the same, is open to adults and students alike, and we’ll be covering the following topics:

  • What is electronics contract manufacturing?
  • What role does electrical engineering play in the business?
  • How we can build ANY benchtop electronics product to provided specifications.
  • How you can be successful working in small business.

This is the sixth-annual manufacturing day, which aims to show “students, parents, educators and their communities what is really happening in modern manufacturing.” Manufacturing Day was founded in 2012 to address a growing problem: Although Americans recognize the importance of the manufacturing industry, they don’t have a positive impression of current manufacturing jobs.

Furthermore, many Americans think electronics manufacturing is done only overseas — a perception we want to change, since we’re doing cutting-edge manufacturing work right outside Philadelphia! For example, we’re:

Keeping our manufacturing jobs here in the U.S. is all the more reason to buy American the next time you’re considering a product. And speaking of jobs, did you know that a recent Deloitte survey found that one-third of Americans wouldn’t encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career because they had concerns about job security, a weak career path, and poor pay?

Yet the facts prove otherwise. Statistics show:

  • The average tenure of workers in the manufacturing industry is highest among all private sector industries at 9.1 years. The industry also has one of the lowest employee turnover rates (2.3 percent) among all private-sector jobs. (At Electro Soft, the majority of our team members have been with us for a decade or more!)
  • Modern manufacturing jobs require sophisticated technical and problem-solving skills. As many senior-level Baby Boomers retire, more job openings are appearing for highly skilled, high-tech positions, as well as in leadership positions.
  • The average manufacturing worker in the U.S. earns almost more than $20,000 above the average employee working in other industries. The path to success isn’t limited to those with a high-priced college degree!

“We’re always excited for Manufacturing Day,” says Electro Soft Executive Vice President Karla Trotman. “It’s our opportunity to show our neighbors what we do in their backyards, and our chance to show students from area schools that they don’t necessarily have to learn how to code or pursue a PhD in order to have a rewarding career.”

Last year, an estimated 225,000 students attended Manufacturing Day events across America. Here at Electro Soft, we hosted more than 50 people and had to add a fourth tour to accommodate everyone. We’re hoping to surpass that this year.

For more information on the tour, contact Electro Soft Executive Vice President Karla Trotman at or 215-654-0701.

To register, go to the Manufacturing Day registration page and complete the form. Be sure to indicate which time slot you’d like to attend.

If you can’t make it, don’t worry — we’ll be happy to send you a free 3D viewer so that you can take a virtual, immersive tour of our facility. Just fill out the form at this link.

Hope to see you next Friday!




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That’s right: A free build for your inspection and approval. You just supply the material; we’ll do the labor at no charge.

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