Stephanie Barone: Reflection on APEX through years
My first APEX was in 2020. I was brand new to the industry and my two biggest takeaways were:
- I was in the right place and that this little company really had something
- I heard that there was “some kind of flu going around…”
And the world changed.
My second APEX was 2022 and my biggest takeaways were:
- The supply chain looks really crazy for the foreseeable future. Predictions of lead times for up to a YEAR!
- Many of our customers were being squeezed by competing pressures of too much excess inventory and paying brokers massive premiums to locate that “Golden Screw”
- I was definitely still in the right place and after 2 years of massive growth, we were set for another record breaking year.
And the world changed again… travel exploded after all of that pent up demand, wait times for basic items like sofas, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, and cars were being measured in months, not weeks. And we were in a position to understand the pressures and help people understand what was happening and why.
IPC APEX 2023: Our reflections and Takeaways
Stephanie Barone, North America Sales Director
IPC APEX 2023 just ended, here are my takeaways this year:
- Women are a part of the industry now. The inroads are slow and it’s definitely still a male-dominated industry, but there is change on the horizon. It’s an exciting time to be in this space. Emily Calandrelli’s keynote address was fascinating, exciting and inspirational.
- No one knows what’s coming but the level of caution & uncertainty were high. People are nervous and hedging their bets. A wise man once told me, “If you let an economic hiccup scare you? You don’t have a strong enough business plan.” Fortune favors the brave, my friends.
- Everybody is buying part counters. Like… everybody.
- Digitalization isn’t going anywhere. The path forward is automation and digitalization. If you’re stuck in manual processes? You need to join the 21st century…we are almost a quarter of the way through a “new” century … Why are you still doing things the same way as in 1994?
- Competition is confirmation that you are in the right space. If there was not a problem to be solved, no one would be doing it. Be sure you are picking the right one. The newest or oldest solution is not the key… the key is finding the ones who are doing it RIGHT.
- In a world of automation, ironically, it’s the human touch that makes everything work well. We saw a huge increase in customers and prospects asking for in-person visits, engagements, and on-site workshops. When you have a lot of automation (and we do), the human experience becomes even more critical. Make sure you are working with people who deeply understand your business, needs, and how the larger market within the electronics supply chain works … and use their knowledge to make your business stronger.
Tara Wiseman, Account Manager, Western Region
- This was my first APEX and it was very impressive! Companies gather from all over the world to witness the newest versions of equipment and prospects for customers. We saw individuals from not only North America but Asia, Europe, Canada and Australia.
- One common theme was the excitement around the XRay part counter. Customers want to maximize their inventory while saving time, and it seems this equipment is the answer customers are looking for.
- There was a lot of excitement and talk of on site visits. People are excited to learn in person and do a full overview of their business processes. Companies are aiming to be as efficient and effective as possible- with this comes more automation and software replacing manually processes.
- The medical device industry is slowing down, which means our customers that work with the medical field have seen some slow down. Customers were at APEX trying to fill the holes of business slowing down, with new customers and more profitable business.
- People seemed positive and upbeat about the component shortage slowly turning around. Customers were interested in StockCQ to sell their excess, rather than using it to find that “golden screw”.
- There does seem to be a divide somewhere between customers on economic spending. There are some customers who are wanting to invest in an onsite visit, CQ consulting and upgrading to enterprise for centralized quoting/purchasing. While other customers are cautious on spending and hesitant to invest in people right now- but I don’t know where that divide lies. Is it geographical? Is it economical tiers? Or which business model they fall under?
Overall, APEX was a huge success! There were so many customers to learn from and connect with. A few minutes at our booth was more valuable than many zoom meetings combined. I enjoyed hearing their problems, solutions and questions on all things Supply Chain.