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I met with Faisal Pandit, president of Panasonic Factory Solutions Company in Illinois, for a quick chat about his experience at IMPACT Washington D.C. 2016.
Patty Goldman: Faisal, how was your day? I’m curious about what you got out of it and what your experience was like.
Faisal Pandit: This is my first year at IMPACT and I’ve got to tell you it has been very exciting and a great opportunity for me to take in a lot of valuable information. I've been in the electronics manufacturing industry for more than 25 years and there are certain serious impediments affecting the growth of this industry in North America. It's important for us to take a very proactive stance in trying to remove those impediments if we are to ever drive any meaningful organic growth.
So an opportunity to interact with our leaders who make decisions for us is a wonderful thing. IPC put some serious issues on the table and the congressmen listened. Ultimately, when you tie the growth of manufacturing—or the importance of manufacturing—to job creation, that resonates well with politicians.
Goldman: Somehow they just don't get that until you tell them.
Pandit: Right. They may not necessarily link it otherwise. I think that worked out quite well in terms of communicating the message and getting that going, but as somebody said earlier, in Washington things move at an incremental pace. There are no revolutions or anything major right away. It's a matter of continuing to raise your voice and having these interactions from time to time, but overall it was a great day.
Goldman: So what made you decide to come this year?
Pandit: I'm on the supply side of the industry and in the past I didn’t really think about attending. But this year was different because I’m personally a big advocate of reviving manufacturing in North America, and we as a company are trying to work with some private and public partnerships to help enhance the manufacturing skillset in North America, which I consider to be a major impediment to the growth here.
I know a lot of people are focusing on STEM programs and things like that. We are in the early stages of trying to put a focus on the manufacturing skillset within community colleges, within high school programs and things like that. We are trying to see what we can do as a company, and I think it would require some level of support from various levels of the political establishment. By coming this year, I wanted to get a sense of what people are talking about in terms of political issues and get an understanding of the process and how we can leverage these contacts and build up on what IPC is doing.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of SMT Magazine.