Jui-Hsiang Chou, also known as Bill, is understandably proud of Apex International. Having spent thirteen years at the Taiwan-based company, he has witnessed incredible advances in both technology and in the rapid expansion of the company itself. His enthusiasm is plain to see, and he never misses a chance to showcase his firm’s talents.
“Apex started out as a small Taiwanese family run concern and had around 600 employees when I arrived,” he explains. “Today, we are a publicly listed company with over 6600 employees. Although there have been some difficult and challenging times over the past few years, things have gone exceptionally well recently, and I anticipate an even brighter future ahead.”
The day he joined the company and was informed of Chairman Wang’s vision, Bill accepted it was going to be a long journey to reach listed company status. His first task was to bring in a senior management team, in order to start building a structure from the top down.
“Senior management is integral and is the core to any decision you make,” insists Bill. “Most of the team I employed came from the operational team in my old company. Combined, they had a wide range of skills in a number of fields including finance, manufacturing and sales etc.”
Over the years, the team has transformed Apex’s customer base from 80% Japanese into an equal ratio of Western, Korean and Greater China. This has not only helped diversify risk, but also opened Apex to a much bigger market and moved them closer to becoming a fully fledged, international company. It is thanks to this policy that today, APEX is one of the major PCB (Printed Circuit Board) suppliers to many of the world’s leading brands.
But Apex has had to diversify its products in order to maintain this success, in what has proved to be a volatile market over the past decade, as Bill explained.
“For the electronics industry, the price erosion and price competition never ends. When I started in this industry things were so different and with regards pricing today, we have certainly hit rock bottom.
“For example, the price of an LCD TV today is around 15% -20% of what it was 10 years ago. Those televisions use a large number of PCBs, so you can imagine the effect these fluctuations had on our business.”
The Apex team chose to diversify and start producing multi-layered PCBs. Having previously produced two-layer PCBs, they now produce up to 12 layers today. This technology has seen a steady rise over the past few years, thanks, in part, to the growth of smart cars, as Bill pointed out.
“The increasing demand for smart cars has proved integral to us. 70% of the PCBs in these types of vehicles are multi-layered and, with an average annual growth of around 4%, you can understand why we are concentrating and thriving in this sector.”