Electro Soft Inc. Founder and CEO James Wallace on the production floor.
It’s official: Electro Soft Inc. has been named to the Philadelphia Business Journal’s list of the Largest Family-Owned Businesses in Greater Philadelphia!
In an emailed announcement to Electro Soft, Business Journal Market President and Publisher William Smith pointed out that “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, family-owned companies account for 64 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, generate 62 percent of the country’s employment, and account for 78 percent of all new job creation.”
“The economies of the United States and our region would come to a screeching halt without family business,” Smith wrote. “Your business is part of that major economic engine, and we’re thrilled that you will be included in the Largest Family-Owned Businesses list.”
We’re thrilled as well — Electro Soft has come a long way from its humble beginnings. President and founder James Wallace first opened the company’s doors in 1986. … Though more accurately, he opened the doors to his own house. “I started making a few cables on my kitchen table for a former client’s project after being laid off,” he says. “That one-time job turned into several. Before long we moved from my kitchen table to my garage.”
From there, the company moved to its current location: 113 Keystone Drive, Montgomeryville, PA. We’ve been growing ever since. Just last year Electro Soft acquired GWL Technologies, a Doylestown-based electronics contract manufacturer that made a name for itself in the medical device industry. Karla Trotman, Electro Soft’s executive vice president, says the company has grown so much they need an even bigger facility. “We are bursting at the seams and have rearranged our layout to make do until we can solidify a new location.”
“We’re honored to be named to the Business Journal’s prestigious list,” Trotman says. “We’ve all worked hard to help this company grow, and we’re very proud of our history.”
On Oct. 4th, Electro Soft will be publicly recognized during a Family Business Conference at the Crystal Tea Room in Center City’s Wanamaker Building. The Philadelphia Area’s Largest Family Owned Businesses list will be published in the Oct. 5th edition of the Business Journal. It will also be added to the Journal’s Book of Lists.
The exterior of Electro Soft Inc. at dusk.
Take a Virtual Tour of Our Manufacturing Facility
We’ve been hard at work this summer, getting our facilities ready to give you a behind-the-scenes tour of where the magic happens at Electro Soft. The good news is, you won’t have to travel — or even get out of your chair — to take part in it. In fact, you don’t even need to make an appointment!
Thanks to 3D technology from the Matterport platform and a Philadelphia-area company called Momentum 360, you can tour our entire production floor and offices on a computer or a mobile device. However, for an even more immersive experience, we highly recommend you use a set of virtual reality goggles. We’ll even send you a set free of charge — just click here. It’s an amazing, fully involved experience that makes you feel like you’re actually right there on the production floor!
When you manufacture precision electronics components for the aviation, defense, rail, transit and OEM industries like we do, you’re surrounded by cutting-edge technology every day. Yet we still found our experience with Momentum — and the virtual reality process — fascinating.
After we did a thorough housecleaning, we had to clear the building of people to ensure no one inadvertently ended up in a shot. Over the course of three hours, the Momentum team moved a specialized digital camera to various points around the production floor and office, filming everything from top to bottom — literally capturing a 360-degree view of each section of our workspace.
Afterward, the Momentum team digitally pieced all of the footage together and rendered what’s called a “dollhouse view.” This allows you, with the click of a mouse, to take a virtual tour and “fly” into any room or area you want to view. You can then zoom in for a closer look, or click on any of the pop-up bubbles that appear. The bubbles provide details about the equipment we use in our production process, along with links for even more information.
Once they’d completed the 360-degree photography, Momentum took drone footage of our building at dusk, so you can see Electro Soft inside and out.
The end result is that you can inspect each and every area of the Electro Soft facility — including where we create printed circuit boards (PCBs), wire harness assemblies, custom cables, cabinet assemblies and more. And it can all be done from the convenience of your home or office.
Click here to take a tour — and don’t forget to claim your free virtual reality headset here!
Matt Cabrey, executive director of the Select Greater Philadelphia Council, interviews Electro Soft Executive Vice President Karla Trotman for her segment on the July 20th Growing Greater Philadelphia Podcast & Radio Program.
Karla Trotman, executive vice president of Electro Soft Inc., was featured on the July 20th episode of the Growing Greater Philadelphia Podcast & Radio Program, which aired on AM radio station 1210WPHT. You can listen to the entire 30-minute program anytime by clicking here for a download link, or by visiting 1210WPHT.com/Select.
Growing Greater Philadelphia aims to “shine the spotlight on the exciting stories of growth and ingenuity happening across our collective community … and inform and inspire pride among our neighbors, and attract others from around the world to join us, creating new companies and new jobs right here in our region.”
We hope you’ll listen!
Earlier this year, Congress approved a $700 billion military budget, increasing defense industry spending by $160 billion. A sizeable portion of the budget will go toward modernizing the Army — not only with brand-new weapons, but with upgrades to existing systems, too.
Among the windfalls for the Army will be new Apache, Black Hawk, Lakota and Chinook helicopters; upgrades to the eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles, Abrams tanks, and Bradley Fighting Vehicles; and updates to the National Guard’s Humvees (HMMWV).
It’s a fantastic opportunity for contractors. Increased defense industry spending means more opportunities to do business with the government. But there’s a catch: Decades of cost overruns and missed deadlines have brought increased project oversight — as it should.
That “catch” presents another opportunity, though: The chance to break the cycle of blown budgets and schedule slips.
The defense industry is one of Electro Soft’s most important clients. We’ve supplied parts used in a wide array of military applications — including power cables for the Army’s Abrams Tank and various cable assemblies for ground combat systems (we’ve also worked on components used in U.S. submarines, ships, and aircraft).
To avoid the problems some other manufacturers experience, we have a number of systems in place that keep us on track and ensure our products are delivered on-time and on-budget.
- A material requirements planning (MRP) system tracks and allows us to cross-check part numbers when they arrive. We’re an important part of the supply chain for more than 50 different customers, so all order information is logged into our MRP system — allowing us to stay on top of delivery dates and deadlines.
- All raw material comes with a certificate of conformance, certifying that all parts were made in conformance to specifications. This eliminates problems later on.
- Government inspectors visit us onsite, to check and accept products prior to shipment.
- In some cases, we’ll build and test a product first, at the government point of acceptance, to ensure the product works properly.
- We adhere to J-STD-001 and IPC-610 certification standards, a requirement for government manufacturing.
- We quote a firm fixed price, which keeps the government from running into expensive manufacturing issues.
As we move into a new era of military modernization, we hope other manufacturers will follow our lead by adopting more stringent cost- and schedule-control measures. Consistent oversights on government projects that lead to cost overruns, missed deadlines and equipment failures can no longer be the norm. It wastes taxpayer money, makes it more difficult for everyone else in the industry to acquire contracts, and, quite frankly, is downright unpatriotic.
Electro Soft closed out May by attending an event called Cybersecurity: Protecting Your Business.
Co-sponsored by the NDIA Delaware Valley, Philadelphia Works, and The Southeastern Pennsylvania Manufacturing Alliance, the daylong event focused on threats to national security that occur through the defense manufacturing industry.
The highlight of the event was a breakdown of a relatively new requirement: NIST Special Publication DFARS/800-171 (aka the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement).
DFARS states: All Department of Defense (DoD) contractors that process, store or transmit Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) must meet the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) minimum security standards by Dec. 31, 2017 or risk losing their DoD contracts.
NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) is a non-regulatory body within the Department of Commerce. The NIST Framework development project was initiated upon the execution of Executive Order 13636, which states, “It is the policy of the United States to enhance the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and to maintain a cyber environment that encourages efficiency, innovation, and economic prosperity while promoting safety, security, business confidentiality, privacy, and civil liberties.”
As an electronics contract manufacturer that builds for the Department of Defense, we wanted to ensure that Electro Soft is in compliance with the NIST update. Throughout the course of the day, we learned that 60% of businesses that face cyber attacks go out of business within 6 months. A whopping two-thirds of cyber attacks are on small businesses.
We also saw numerous examples of how other governments had penetrated systems, then replicated U.S. fighter jets and military helicopters.
Like everyone else there, our question was, “Just what is the minimum security standard?” Ted Bujewski, Associate Director at the Department of Defense Office of Small Business Programs, helped the attendees understand exactly what small businesses need to know in order to comply with the DFARS/800-171 minimum security standard.
Here are some of the FAQs he covered:
Q: What does the requirement simply state?
A: 1. Provide adequate security to protect covered defense information
2. Report hacks and give access to the DoD to investigate.
Q: What is covered defense information?
A: “Covered defense information” needs to be defined by the issuing government agency or the PRIME. Ask if it is not defined in the documentation or stated.
Q: How do I provide adequate security?
A: At this point, you should have a security plan in place. Follow the NIST Framework for guidance.
Q: What if I have a cyber incident? Am I then in breach or default?
A: No. You must report the incident immediately.
Q: Is there a certifying body or contractor that will check to see if my company is compliant?
A: No. The DoD will not/has not certified a contractor to check compliance. There is NO 3rd party to determine compliance. Anyone who claims to do so is lying.
Q: Where do I report cyber incidents?
Q: How do I know if the NIST clause is in my contract?
A: The clause is in all new DoD PRIME contracts.
Electro Soft, Incorporated proudly complies with NIST SP 800-171, DFARS Clause 252.204-7012.