Components Express incorporated in 1992. It began by importing electronic components from Asia and manufacturing data cables. Today, its high quality in-house manufacturing capabilities and cost-effective international import operations allow it to offer both simple components and complex sub assemblies.
Asian Imports and Component Sourcing
CEO John Berst has been doing business and building relationships in the Far East since 1987. His customers wanted low-cost components but would not give up quality. He set out to offer price, quality assurance, and guaranteed delivery in any quantity.
Berst began with part-time staffing in Asia 1992. By 1996 he'd set up a full-time office in Taiwan. CEI's Asian personnel find product sources, visit facilities, and negotiate deals. They work logistics, consolidate freight shipments, and act as CEI's translators when needed.
The Comforts of Home
Today CEI has access to over 170 approved vendors in the Far East. Over 75% of them are ISO certified—and CEI personnel have inspected every one of them for quality practices. Purchasing offshore components from CEI is identical to buying from a quality US manufacturer. What raises CEI above brokers and distributors is its design capabilities, quality control and freight consolidation. CEI connects US customers with in-house US engineers. They can provide three-dimensional AutoCAD drawings, get the customer's approval, and take the design to CEI's overseas suppliers. Quality assurance is coordinated between CEI's home facility and the facilities that supply the components. CEI offers as many services as it does because CEI is a manufacturer in its own right.
Putting the Parts Together
In 1992, the company started out manufacturing standard data cables and gradually turned its focus to high-end data cables. In 1997, CEI added a mechanical engineer and an electrical engineer to cover R&D, design and quality. By 1998, CEI had installed CNC-controlled equipment and injection molding machines. This allowed it to build complex molded cable assemblies for medical and aerospace customers such as NASA, Bayer and G.E. Medical.
Manufacturing cables for Cisco Systems equipment led CEI to invent a patch panel. The patch panel made many of the connections internally that the cables had been making externally, eliminating "spaghetti." Cisco was impressed and invited CEI to redesign some of its Smart Serial Cables and develop more patch panels. CEI became an approved Cisco OEM Hardware Manufacturer and in 2001 was awarded a patent for the patch panel line. It later became an approved Hewlett Packard OEM Hardware Manufacturer, as well. CEI then added a graphic arts department with package design expertise. This allowed it to create kits for manufacturers that could go straight to the Point-of-Sale.
The Bottom Line
Dedication to service has paid off. Today CEI uses up to 80,000 square feet of flexible manufacturing space and up to 200 employees including contract workers, depending on demand. Its services include engineering, R&D, QA, manufacturing, assembly, kitting, graphic arts, package design, marketing, sales, warehousing, and global electronics procurement.