Green Circuits: Helping Electronics Manufacturers Thrive in San Jose, Now and in the Future
SFMade launched Manufacture : San Jose to drive resources, knowledge, and visibility to the city’s more than 1200 manufacturers, like Green Circuits.
In 2018, SFMade, in partnership with the City of San Jose and CMTC (California Manufacturing Technology Consulting) launched Manufacture : San Jose (MFG:SJ). Its mission: to drive resources, knowledge, and visibility to the city’s more than 1200 manufacturers and the 65,000 people they employ. MFG:SJ supports and strengthens the sector by delivering an integrated suite of advising, education, workforce training, and hiring services for locally owned and operated manufacturing companies.
Green Circuits was one of the first companies eager to partner with MFG:SJ. For more than 20 years, the San Jose-based company has provided high-quality design, prototyping, and full-scale production services for all types of printed circuit boards and complex systems. Their clients include some of the world’s largest companies, representing a wide variety of industries, including consumer electronics, health tech, aerospace, and defense.
As a long-time Silicon Valley business, Green Circuits has seen the waxing and waning of the electronics manufacturing industry in the Bay Area and the exodus of skilled labor.
“There’s been a huge escape of manufacturing skill, talent, and knowhow,” said Green Circuits President & COO Roger Malmrose. “A lot of companies that manufactured in the Bay Area in the old days moved overseas. We need to do what we can to keep the US and the Bay Area strong. SFMade and Manufacture : San Jose can play a crucial role in helping to protect and grow this sector.”
“Part of Manufacture : San Jose’s emphasis is to say ‘there is a lot of manufacturing intelligence here, and we would like to broaden it further,’ especially because we have geopolitical issues that can cause turmoil in the electronics world,” he said.
MFG:SJ published a report in January 2020 that found that the majority of San Jose’s manufacturing employment is in businesses like Green Circuits—design and fabrication of business-to-business products, including semiconductors, computers, communications equipment, medical devices, and aerospace and automotive components, but when many people think of Silicon Valley, they envision only software being built there. Malmrose would like to change that perception.
“There is no software without hardware,” said Malmrose. “The software has to run on computers, which requires circuit boards and microprocessors. Manufacture : San Jose has been really great about educating people about that.”
MFG:SJ is also raising awareness of manufacturing’s impact on equity. More than any other sector, manufacturing offers the potential for residents without experience or significant educational attainment to build livelihoods through living-wage employment.
Through its Hiring Made Better program, MFG:SJ is connecting companies like Green Circuits to potential employees through its job board and network of local workforce partners, who find qualified candidates to fill open positions. These organizations serve people with barriers to employment, such as low-income people, people with disabilities, veterans, and people re-entering society after incarceration.
Green Circuits is a great example of a company that hires entry-level candidates from these communities and provides them with ongoing, on-the-job training.
“A lot of the manufacturers we work with in San Jose are willing to take entry-level candidates and train them for whatever roles they are interested in pursuing,” said Michael Erickson, MFG:SJ Regional Director. “This helps people get jobs that they love—jobs that pay better than average.”
Also important to the health of the sector is building a pipeline of future workers. Green Circuits is an active participant in MFG:SJ’s Inside Manufacturing youth career exposure program, which leads youth on tours of manufacturing facilities and offers internships at participating companies. Green Circuits has also led tours during National Manufacturing Week.
“We are working in conjunction with the City of San Jose and Manufacture : San Jose to provide exposure to people who otherwise might not have an idea of what this industry is about,” said Malmrose. “We have had students from high schools and Evergreen Community College come and do internships.”
“We like to promote young kids to get involved in science and engineering,” said Tuan Tran, Green Circuits Director of Customer Solutions. “The more we can get youth excited about this, it will be better for everyone in the long run.”
These programs are of long-term importance for a city where the gap between rich and poor is growing at the second fastest rate in the nation. As an industry that provides the possibility for residents from all walks of life to enter the mainstream economy, to advance their skills, and to attain economic self-sufficiency, manufacturing holds enormous promise to help close that gap.
“Manufacturing offers San Jose residents access to a career path that can keep people living and thriving locally,” says Erickson. “It is one of the few sectors capable of moving the needle in a positive direction around economic equity in a time when regionally we are seeing more inequitable distribution of income and wealth than ever before.”