API Alliance Inc.
Address: 14220 Plank St., Fort Wayne
At a glance: API Alliance is a contract manufacturer that designs and assembles electronic controls for customers in various industries, including automotive, agriculture, data protection, education, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Were in a lot of fields, said Mike Gigli, general manager. Thats the beauty of it. Were very diversified.
Annual revenue: Not disclosed
When was the company founded: 1994 as a division of Northern Apex; split into a separate company in 2008
Biggest accomplishment in the past 12 months: API experienced the fastest growth in company history, adding 40 percent to its workforce. As the economic recovery sputters to take hold, customers are sending many of those order increases to API instead of hiring full-time workers. We are considered an extension of many of our customers assembly floor, Gigli said.
Over time, API has been able to retain a high percentage of assembly work it receives, he said. Kurt Webber, business development manager, said customers that outsource some work to API can then focus on their core business while API does the subsystems.
What was your biggest mistake so far in operating this business: The company didnt do more in the early years to establish a focus on electronics and electro-mechanical assembly, Gigli said. Electro-mechanical products are those that have both electronic and mechanical elements. An example is a circuit board that is assembled and then mounted on a control panel, which included knobs, buttons and switches, he said.
We had a 360-degree focus on anything assembly-related, he said. After refining its niche, API has been able to build up a loyal group of customers who consider it one of the best-kept secrets in Indiana, Gigli said.
What are the key challenges facing your business or industry: The electronic design and electro-mechanical assembly markets continue to evolve. API needs to be flexible to keep up with the changes – including increased miniaturization – that customers demand. To do that, company leaders stay involved in industry trade groups, attend trade shows, participate in supplier training sessions and keep in close contact with vendors and suppliers, Gigli said.
What is your strategy for staying ahead of your competition: API stays in constant communication with customers about their needs, offering ideas for how to improve products. APIs staff takes ownership of the results, working with customers to achieve the best outcome instead of blaming the customers design specs when there is a problem, Gigli said.
What resources have you found most helpful in running a business: API is one of four sister companies. Combined, they employ more than 75 and work in hardware, software, electrical and mechanical engineering.
What are your growth projections for the next five years: Gigli expects to double revenues in the next two years and increase sales by at least 30 percent a year after that.
What is one thing about your business that people might not be aware of: API accepts orders as small as one unit – for a prototype – and as large as 500,000 a year. Most orders fall in the middle, ranging from 50 to 10,000 per year. The companys original goal was to show manufacturers could get affordable design and assembly done in the U.S. instead of moving work to Mexico or India, Gigli said.
If you werent running this business, what would you be doing: Gigli and Webber both confessed a passion for sports. The managers said theyd be coaching or working in sports management if they werent at API.
Source: Mike Gigli, general manager, and Kurt Webber, business development manager
Compiled by Sherry Slater of The Journal Gazette