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Epoch International is an EMS company specializing in front-end engineering. Barry Matties speaks with Epoch President Foad Ghalili at productronica 2019 about the company’s ability to maintain little employee turnover, challenges they’re facing, and expected growth in the U.S. market.
Barry Matties: Foad, we’re in Munich right now, but where is your headquarters located?
Foad Ghalili: Our headquarters is in Fremont, California, and we have other facilities around the world, including Dalian, China.
Matties: Talk a little bit about what you do.
Ghalili: Epoch is an engineering services manufacturing company. We put a lot of emphasis on front-end engineering. Most of the customers that we work with are looking for IP protection, and that also gives us leverage to bring about socially responsible companies because I think they are interlinked. You cannot segregate IP from socially responsible companies, so that is one of the areas where we’re strong. We’ve been at the forefront of that industry. We are working with large corporations where IP becomes a key element for them. At our company, we have had zero turnover on our manufacturing floor. In the entire company, we have about 4% turnover, which dictates how we run the operation. That gives you an idea of our company culture and environment.
Matties: For reference, how many people are in your organization?
Ghalili: We have 150 people in China and about 10–15 running the Fremont operations. We bring value to the employees because the company shares its profit. About 25% of the profits are distributed with the employees. They have free education. For example, our production manager started as a technical high school employee on a production floor. She now has her MBA degree through the company, and she’s running our production department. We have a lot of those stories where employees have grown with the company and have been able to bring a lot of value to the organization.
Matties: Are you the founder of the company?
Ghalili: I am one of the founders. The company celebrated its 25th year anniversary last year.
Matties: Congratulations. So, the culture is based on your values.
Ghalili: That’s right.
Matties: In China, there’s a culture that may not be congruent with what you’re discussing.
Ghalili: Exactly. Again, when I first went to China, I was a general manager of a joint venture company in China running a ceramic chip capacitor, and I’ve always thought that we need to bring in different companies that bring value to society; I felt that would be an area, to begin with. In those days, many of the foreign companies thought, “How can we bring products so that we feel confident that our IPs are protected?” Then, we asked, “How can we bring a foreign company that does not abuse the labor force and use them only for their labor to produce a product?” We were able to marry these two concepts together and bring that force into Dalian.
To read this entire interview, which appeared in the December 2020 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.