Top Notch Partners

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The TopNotch Mission

Top Notch Mission Statement

  • To create a win-win environment for PCB manufacturers of the West and the East.

  • To help PCB manufacturers in the West to source price competitive PCBs from the East to serve their local market and protect their customer base.

  • To cultivate a healthy sourcing practice by building long term partnership between Western and Eastern PCB manufacturers.

In the 21st century, while Asian PCB manufacturers flourish, many of the pioneers of PCBs in the West have withered or cease to exist altogether. Today, over 80% of PCB's are produced in Asia, while North American and European production has shrunk over 70% since 2001.

PCB manufacturing is a vital part of the electronic industry. It has been said that the making of PCBs is part technology and part art. Nevertheless, making high quality PCBs requires investments of equipment and process as well as heart and soul. A healthy PCB supply base is vital to support the local electronic industry. With over 50% of the new electronic products still being developed in the West, local PCB support for rapid prototyping and quick-turn is vital.

In the current business environment, local PCB manufacturers are facing a shrinking market and feeling pressure from two fronts --- OEM’s cost down programs and competition from PCB brokers. OEM and EMS are constantly demanding lower PCB prices or simply source PCB directly from the Far-East. On the other side, PCB brokers are flourishing by bringing low cost PCBs from the East, especially China, and simply driving many local PCB manufacturers out of business.

The Eastern PCB manufacturers—particularly Chinese, which are commonly blamed for “dumping”, are actually operating on very thin margins. They are often exploited by PCB brokers due to their lack of customer access as well as language barriers. When much of the margins are sucked up by PCB brokers/agents, Western PCB manufacturers are left struggling to survive and the East has little to re-invest. Western OEM are underserved and innovations as well as time-to market suffer.

For those who have sourced PCBs from the Far-East, they all have their fair share of horror stories pertaining to quality and countless other frustrations. From a service standpoint, Western OEMs would prefer support from local manufacturers if they could offer ‘China’ pricing for volume production.

Therefore, for any Western PCB producer, establishing a sourcing partnership with Far-East producers to provide price competitive volume production is a prudent way to better serve their customers. Customer retention also benefits as their need throughout their product life cycle can be supplied efficiently. OEM or EMS enjoy better local technical support and the capacity to meet cost objectives for their PCB supply. Far-East suppliers benefit from the partnership by realizing more reasonable terms, reduced service issues and more importantly better margins. A win-win-win situation for all!