Electronics contract manufacturer RiverSide Electronics, Ltd was founded in 1984 and primarily offers electronic manufacturing services including manufacturing, assembly, testing, packing, and shipping for circuit board, electro mechanical and box build assemblies. The company is headquartered in Lewiston, MN, with a second facility in Rushford, MN and employs around three hundred people. Its top-of-the-line work, made with the latest equipment and quality techniques, has been requested and shipped across the globe.
President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Craney says that RiverSide routinely takes on programs and projects that bigger companies are not willing to handle. RiverSide has found success in dealing with customers that are often not served by these larger companies but require comparable services.
According to Craney, a trend within the industry has been larger companies taking businesses offshore, causing other larger or medium-sized companies to follow suit, even when it is not strictly necessary. He says that many of the Fortune 500 companies that chose to use this tactic set a precedent that not all companies can or even should follow; unless a company is the size of Apple, which has greater volume and income, the costs can be too high.
Dealing offshore can also be a logistical hassle. Labor makes up a small percentage of the assembly of an electronic product, and moving that labor offshore leads to all kinds of problems such as tariffs and shipping lead times, which can make the practice not worth it.
The trend began as far back as the 1980s, as larger companies moved their supply chains offshore without, as Craney says, considering the outcome. This is one trend that RiverSide is looking to buck. The company makes projects and parts easy to obtain and more fixable, which in turn is appreciated by customers and partners, and is key to making them a favored vendor. Customer service is something that RiverSide takes very seriously. As it is critical to the continued success of the business, it is most important to be as responsive as possible.
Long-lived products are sought-after by many clients, and companies must have a way to retrieve a product that has become obsolete and to obtain parts from it to service what is currently in the field. This, among other factors, is something that must be addressed before you even build the first piece of a product and something that Craney says a large percent of businesses in the original equipment manufacturing (OEM) world do not do. If a product is expected to have a long lifecycle, many parts designed for it today will not be around in the future, and plans must be made for backward compatibility.
In such a business space as electronic manufacturing services, a challenge that RiverSide faces consistently is a matter of cost. Customers are often under pressure to reduce unit pricing and will search for the lowest deal, but according to the familiar adage between price, delivery, and quality, a customer struggles to balance all three. The company provides quality and delivery with a competitive cost, but other companies may try to underbid it, which can be attractive to some customers. Craney says this happens frequently, but RiverSide will not undersell itself nor will it compromise on the high standard it has set.
Another familiar challenge is that this developing sector needs more people. As manufacturing of technology products continues to grow at a tremendous rate, the area’s low unemployment rate makes finding the right people to hire difficult at times, especially because RiverSide is not in an urban area. Southeast Minnesota is decidedly more rural than some potential employees may find desirable, so Craney and his team look for people who love the small-town atmosphere. The company’s humble setting is one that has become part of its image, and community ties are a part of what keeps it going.
Being a part of a relatively smaller community has also given RiverSide an advantage as it is a noticeable part of the lives of the people in the area and can make its presence known that way. The company routinely participates in local activities, from charity events to working with the local universities.
Craney says that the company is involved in occupational rehabilitation and will often provide employment services for people with special needs. What is more, many employees work outside of the office as volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians, a fact which brings him a great deal of pride as president and cements the company’s place as part of its community.
RiverSide has used many approaches to marketing to get the word out about its services, but Craney finds that the best approach has been face-to-face interaction. He credits his marketing team for their efforts, but what has won it the most success thus far is a combination of meeting in person and the word-of-mouth recommendations that loyal customers and suppliers will give to those they know.
RiverSide sports two network companies within a twenty-mile radius: RiverBend Electronics Ltd and RiverStar Incorporated. RiverBend Electronics Ltd provides electronic and electromechanical services and specializes in material risk management for low volume niche orders and sunrise/sunset warranty programs. RiverStar Incorporated is a logistics and fulfillment company that also offers major field returns, light assembly, and programming among other services.
Craney would like to see a further diversification in the company, and although RiverSide is already the most diverse electronic manufacturer of its size, further growth in this area can make even greater stability.
As RiverSide continues toward the end of 2018 and beyond, Steve Craney says it has won several new contracts that have come back onshore. In fact, many projects have begun to migrate from overseas in a reversing of the prior offshoring trend. In the short-term, the company wishes to bring in more automation to its processes and is making organic growth goals.
Above all, RiverSide’s commitment to its quality standard and ethics in business remain firm, and it is a name that customers have trusted for their electronic manufacturing services needs since it began thirty five years ago.