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Woman-Owned Naprotek Is Electronics Manufacturing Success Story


 

The Bay Area has long been the epicenter for advanced electronics manufacturing. Predominantly concentrated in the San Jose metro, the industry is buoyed through its proximity to both incumbent and up-and-coming hardware companies, decades of intellectual capital and process knowledge, and a skilled workforce that allows these companies to thrive in hyper-competitive environments. Despite many of the world’s biggest names in the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry being in San Jose, many small and medium-sized enterprises have found successful niches for themselves in this space that allow them to compete.

Najat Badriyeh stands next to one of the many machines on Naprotek’s manufacturing floor.

Najat Badriyeh stands next to one of the many machines on Naprotek’s manufacturing floor.

One such company is Naprotek Inc., a registered woman-owned small business (WOSB) that for more than 20 years has worked with some of the top players in aerospace and medical device technologies. Electronics engineering continues to be dominated by men: the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that fewer than 13% of practicing electrical engineers are women, and very few women have broken into the top levels. This is where Naprotek is a clear exception: five of the seven members of its executive team are women.

Naprotek was founded in 1995 by Najat Badriyeh, who immigrated to the US from Lebanon as a child. She launched her career in the burgeoning EMS industry in the early 1980s, joining what she calls the “electronics revolution in Silicon Valley.” During these early boom years, Badriyeh gained invaluable experience working for pioneering startups like Best Labs and Diasonics. Later, she would work for Space Craft Inc. (SCI), widely considered to be the founder of the global EMS industry and now part of Sanmina Corporation in North San Jose.

Working in management roles at both the startup and enterprise-levels taught Badriyeh how to operate a lean business. It also showed her how fiercely competitive the industry could be. And she learned that while global EMS companies were highly resourced, their sheer size and scale left room for nimble regional companies to find success.

“I have always had a passion for product development,” says Badriyeh. “Nothing gets me more excited than helping our customers design and build their new products for release.”

In the few years prior to her launching of Naprotek, Badriyeh was on the founding team of Fine Pitch Technology, an electronics incubating and prototyping firm that was an innovative concept at its time. Fine Pitch was soon after acquired by Solectron (itself in quintessential Valley fashion later acquired by San Jose-based Flextronics). Fast-forward to today and Naprotek is a growing and increasingly mainstay player in the Valley’s critically important EMS industry.

A Naprotek checks the settings on a surface mounting machine.

A Naprotek checks the settings on a surface mounting machine.

Naprotek’s specialty lies in mission-critical and advanced printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) manufacturing. The company lists many of the nation’s largest aerospace and defense companies as its longtime customers, and is expanding into many new fields. “One of our key strengths is the diversification of our business. 80 percent of our revenue is generated from our top 20 customers, well above the industry norm,” says Badriyeh.

Most remarkably, Naprotek has managed to retain its core employees in an industry where experienced personnel are in high demand and talent poaching runs rampant: of Naprotek’s 65 employees, 39 of them have been with the company for more than 15 years. “I am close with all of my employees,” proclaims Badriyeh. “Each morning I walk out to the floor and greet them. They know if they have an issue they can come to me and I will support them however I can.”

Earlier this year, Badriyeh was named California CEO of the Year by Acquisition International, a global publication for corporate finance professionals. For the 2017 fiscal year, Naprotek’s revenue goal is to exceed $20M in revenues for the first time in the company’s history. However, Badriyeh has a much bigger vision for the company.

“Our goal is to be the most recognized women-owned small business in the Valley,” proclaims Badriyeh. “We want to serve as role models for women who are interested in technology and being in this field”

At Naprotek’s rate of growth, Badriyeh may very well achieve that goal.