By Erika Webb
The newest facility at Volusia County's DeLand Crossings Industrial Park opened its doors July 17 to show how it has invested several million dollars.
Conelec Electronic Manufacturing hosted an open house, which included refreshments provided by Dobro's Restaurant as well as tours of Conelec's state-of-the-art plant inside the 63,000 square-foot building on the 8.5-acre site bought last year for $2.2 million.
In a move to consolidate operations formerly in Sanford and Ocala, Conelec relocated to the facility near the State Road 44/Interstate 4 interchange in 2012.
The manufacturer serves the industrial, medical, military and commercial markets with a full range of services, including full turnkey printed circuit board assembly, system assembly, testing and repair services.
Conelec manufactures "degaussers" -- used to reduce or eliminate an unwanted magnetic field (information) stored on tape and disk media -- for use in United States embassies and government agencies around the world.
The manufacturer invested more than $1 million, installing a cutting-edge production line -- including state of the art Panasonic Surface Mount placement equipment -- and a complete facility build-out, according to a statement issued by Volusia County Economic Development Manager Rob Ehrhardt.
Conelec's electronic manufacturing services also include new product introduction and prototype manufacturing, assembly, testing, sustaining services and engineering support.
Director of Quality Raul Gomez has been with the company only one month after being solicited from a company in Pennsylvania. As he led one of the six-person tours, which included DeLand City Manager Michael Pleus, Mr. Gomez demonstrated a thorough knowledge of all operational and physical components.
The actual parts housed in the facility range in value from a few cents to thousands of dollars each, Mr. Gomez said.
Though the product and system integration process is complex and, to a layman, futuristic -- well beyond average comprehension -- Mr. Gomez returned frequently to the graspable basics of success: a well-trained, conscientious staff focused on the precepts outlined on the company's website:
Customers are our primary focus.
People are our most valuable asset.
Suppliers and customers are long term business partners.
Continuous process improvement is a way of life.
Ethical and socially responsible behavior is essential.
Conelec President Michael Sobolewski said as a contract manufacturer the company provides services to Original Equipment Manufacturers, which in turn label and sell the equipment.
"For example, Apple doesn't build the Apple iPhone," Mr. Sobolewski said. "Apple has contract manufacturers build it."
One of Conelec's customers, a biometrics company, sells iris scanning products and fingerprint recognition equipment, which is used throughout various government agencies.
According to that customer, Mr. Sobolewski said, some of the components assembled at Conelec are built into final products used in the field in Afghanistan.
The iris scanning device was used in addition to traditional DNA to positively identify the remains of Osama Bin Laden, according to Forbes Magazine.
NBC News reported the biometric facial recognition technology identified his face with 95 percent accuracy.
Forbes called biometric analysis technology, such as iris scanning recognition, an "exploding market".
Roger Dangalan is a draftsman designer with Eltec Instruments in Daytona Beach, a leading supplier of both standard and custom detectors for a diverse range of critical infrared sensing applications worldwide.
Mr. Dangalan asked several questions throughout the tour and said he was researching manufacturing companies, scouting for a company to produce printed circuit boards, which are used in everything from computers to cell phones and beyond.
He said he was pleased with what he learned at Conelec.
The company strives for a level above satisfaction with its partners in the marketplace.
"We share information with Panasonic and they improve their product, which we use in manufacturing," Mr. Gomez said.
Throughout the tour, Mr. Gomez emphasized the amount of training the company's 94 employees receive. Conelec prides itself on quality control from the first steps of assembly to shipping.
Getting the job completed correctly the first time is always the primary focus, he said.
"You can have equipment and various machines but it's the people that make it all work," Mr. Sobolewski explained. "It's the quality of people and the quality of training ... In a business like ours, it's a service business. We have to have top-notch people who are attentive to detail and quality."
DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar also toured the facility. He and Mr. Pleus are pleased with Conelec's choice to relocate here.
"We're happy to have companies like Conelec in DeLand," Mr. Pleus told Conelec's human resources manager, Duane Hempfield.
Conelec plans to expand its customer base and its workforce in the years to come.
"The message we're trying to get across is we're really looking to gain new customers, grow the business and be a substantial employer in Volusia County," Mr. Sobolewski said. "We're looking to be the premier contract manufacturer in the southeast."