Starting Manufacturing with Marquardt Partners

Chris Berry is the Business Development Manager for Marquardt North America in Cazenovia, New York. Marquardt Group is a global company with 11,000 employees, and the company’s Syracuse-area facility makes electro-mechanical switches, controls, and wireless communications for the automotive industry and other large OEMs.

Yet Marquardt also provides end-to-end manufacturing services for startups, especially in the aerospace and drone, medical, and defense industries. Through an initiative called Marquardt Partners, startups can leverage Marquardt’s expertise in product development, manufacturing, validating testing and reporting, industrial engineering, supply chain and purchasing, and life cycle management.

Listen to the Podcast


Steve Melito: Hey, welcome to New York State Manufacturing Now the podcast that’s powered by FuzeHub. I’m your host, Steve Melito. Today, we’re talking to Chris Berry, Business Development Manager for Marquardt North America in Cazenovia, New York. Hey Chris, welcome to the podcast.

Chris Berry: Hey Steve, thanks for having us.

Steve Melito: Our pleasure. So Chris, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you come to work for Marquardt and how long have you been there?

Chris Berry: Okay, yeah. Thanks, Steve. So yeah, Chris Berry, working here at Marquardt US. Been with the company 11 years. Originally a Syracuse guy. I left town to go to college, got my mechanical engineering degree and started applying to different companies in the region. And Marquardt was one of the first companies to contact me. At the time, I had never heard of Marquardt, I had actually never even been to Cazenovia, which is about 20, 25 minutes away from Syracuse. But as soon as I came in, I met with a lot of really interesting, talented people and they won me over right away. And it’s 11 years since that point, and it’s been a great ride.

Steve Melito: Fantastic. Sure sounds like a great fit. Now, you mentioned Cazenovia, which is in rural Upstate New York, but that doesn’t mean that Marquardt is small. In fact, Marquardt Group is a global company and you’ve got 11,000 employees worldwide. Can you give us a big picture view of the business?

Chris Berry: Yes, you’re right. So we are in Cazenovia, New York, so that is a rural area. However, we are a global company. We do around $1.5 billion US dollars annually, we have 21 locations in 14 countries, and we handle most topics for the kinds of products and systems that we create. We do most of that work internal. We have different types of product systems that we create, our bread and butter areas. This would be things such as human machine interfaces, so something that a person can touch, on a vehicle or a power tool or some form of electrical system that gives a person an advantage of that machinery to actually control it. We create switching systems, we create wireless communication systems, so the ears and the mouth of the vehicle. We create devices that go into the field that can last in some of the harshest conditions for up to 10 years. We create lighting systems. So you may have seen in some of these really fancy European high- end vehicles, some of these new futuristic interiors with curved glass and lighting systems. Marquardt creates and designs a lot of those systems. We create battery systems, we have sensors, we create pumps that go into products that you use at home. We create control systems for power tools. I mean, we literally have thousands and thousands of products that go into the everyday person’s life. You just wouldn’t know it, but we are literally everywhere.

Steve Melito: That’s excellent. You’re making stuff happen and you’re certainly involved in some large industries, you mentioned automotive, but the Cazenovia location also works with startups through something called Marquardt Partners. Why do you work with startups?

Chris Berry: For me personally, I love working with people who are at startups. I think it takes a lot of courage to start a new business or to leave the safety of the nine-to-five or to join these industries. I think there’s a magic with these people. And for me personally, they inspire me and they make me want to try new things and push myself. For Marquardt as a company, from a business standpoint, during this COVID era that we find ourself in, we really had to look to see what is it that we could do within the region, within the United States more so, that lent itself well to our people and to our investments and our infrastructure. And with some of these startups, it’s really amazing the variety that you find. But to partner with someone that’s at the beginning of their journey, it’s an amazing time to work with these companies to help them avoid some of the common pitfalls, to help them accelerate their development process and get their product into the hands of their customers, in a reliable fashion as quick as possible, and also cost- effectively. I think that’s a really important part of the story, getting it out there and having it be profitable for them so that they can scale their business.

Steve Melito: Absolutely. And Chris, when I ask you why do you work with startups, it’s only mock surprise, we at FuzeHub do the same thing of course. But I know that not all contract manufacturers do work with startups. In fact, some don’t want to talk to them. So this makes you unique. Your initiative, Marquardt Partners, provides what your website calls “end-to-end manufacturing services”. Can you tell us what that phrase means? What do you do, especially for a startup, to help them?

Chris Berry: Yeah, I mean it depends really on the nature of the product or systems that they’re looking to generate or to create. And we really try to find people and meet them where they are, and try to help assess what’s that starting point, where are you and where are you looking to go? And then we find a way to partner with these companies, and so that we can take them from that starting point all the way to that finish line that they’ve defined. And so when we say end-to-end manufacturing, maybe it’s a circuit board, maybe it’s electronics, maybe it’s a mechatronic system. We have the team and the talent here that can assess those systems, we can scale a solution that meets their budget and their needs, and then we find a way to help them to design for manufacturability in the most cost-effective way, we find the right suppliers within our network that will help them to realize their products, and then we find a way to produce those materials in a cost cost-effective way or sometimes in a step-by-step process where you can scale up your manufacturing, where maybe it starts where it’s fully manual, but in the end it’s a fully automated process. And we can help get them through that journey. And so just taking them from that concept all the way to producing material, but then also handling those customer engagements. If there’s, say, something weird happening with the product, we can interface with companies to help them to resolve those topics. And so we really help them from A to Z, I guess is the way you could put it.

Steve Melito: Yeah, absolutely. You stick with them as they grow, and they can grow with you. And I want to come back to something that we share is we certainly both talk to a lot of startups. And as part of the work I do for the FuzeHub Manufacture Solutions program, I hear from a lot of startups that say they need a contract manufacturer, but what they actually need for where they’re at is design for manufacturing assistance and maybe some prototyping help. Do you work with young companies like these?

Chris Berry: Oh yeah, absolutely. And I mean, and I think that’s where the fun really starts. You meet these people, they have great ideas and they come to us and say, “We’re ready to go, let’s start producing a million of these a year.” And we’re like, “Okay, great. Share with us your technical materials.” And then they might show us a technical drawing, and things that might be more common for Marquardt might not be as common for others, such as GD&T on a technical drawing. Is this thing producible? Do you really need to have aerospace-level tolerances on this product that maybe is a toy for children? Does it really require that? Because it’s going to drive cost. When it comes to electronics, what kind of design guidelines are you using? A schematic’s a schematic, but when you do an actual layout on a board, are you considering things like ceramic components and their placement to mounting features or to the edge of the board for flexibility on that board while being used in the real world? And that might lead to degradated performance and unexpected failures in your customer’s hands, which isn’t going to really create that bond that you need to set, especially at that most critical time at the beginning of your relationship. And so we help you, we’ll call it measure twice and cut once.

Steve Melito: So you mentioned aerospace. Are there certain industries that you’re especially interested in working with?

Chris Berry: For the people that are working with me on the Business Development team, we’re really, really looking for companies within the US that are working within the aerospace, drone, defense and medical areas. Also, we have this large bucket that we call other, which many startup companies will fall into. But in terms of what we’ll call the established businesses, really those would be the big four that we’re focusing on.

Steve Melito: Okay, excellent. And let’s talk a little bit about your manufacturing capabilities. I know that you do injection molding and electronic manufacturing, for example. Can you tell us more about the equipment that you have and how you use it?

Chris Berry: Yeah, so as you mentioned, we have injection molding, electronic production capabilities. So when it comes to injection molding, we work with companies to create materials that will go into, say, their larger assemblies or smaller assemblies. So this could be gears, it could be housings that encase your electronics. Sometimes these don’t need to be as pretty, but in some cases the appearance is extremely important. And so we’re working with very high-end companies, we’re very knowledgeable and experienced at surface finishes and making sure that products are looking as intended to the customer’s expectations, whether it’s ceiling features or ruggedness. When it comes to the injection molding, really it’s we help in the creation of the tooling, we determine what kind of tooling is required. Is it a single cavity? Is it a multi- cavity? What type of materials are you using? Is that the most cost- effective? Is it meeting your needs for the field? When it comes to electronic production, how did you balance your design? Is it a single site? Is it a top and bottom side? Are you using components that are SMT or surface-mounted or using the THT or thru-hole components, which may carry an associated cost with that? And navigate the companies to produce these kinds of materials or components. But in addition to this, we also design and produce our own assembly lines. We also design and produce our own end-of-line testers. And what these are doing is not only are we evaluating the product that’s being produced in our facility at multiple steps along the way, we also do a final check and balance to make sure that the product is working electrically the right way. We have visual inspection to make sure that it’s looking the proper way. We’re doing illumination inspections, we’re serializing each individual product for traceability if a customer needs this. We could also be packaging these materials and tracking all of this through our SAP system and through our cloud systems. We also produce test fixtures. So we have our own onsite test facility. We’re pretty spoiled here in Cazenovia, we really have everything that we need in one location. But we have the ability to do electrical testing, we have the ability to do various environmental testing for the most extreme environments, or we try to simulate use cases for actuation and control and rotation of products. Really, we try to cover our bases with our customers to make sure that we’re giving it that due diligence prior to releasing it into the wild.

Steve Melito: That’s a lot of different services, very robust capabilities. And I think for startups, it’s interesting to consider that you’re also offering these same services to the big guys, to the big automotive manufacturers, for example, but they can get them as a startup. So talking about startups a little bit more, FuzeHub has referred a few to Marquardt Partners already, and don’t mention any names if you don’t want to or if you can’t. But have any of these companies become customers for you?

Chris Berry: Yeah, yeah, certainly won’t mention any, the endorsement contracts haven’t been finalized yet, so we’ll keep it more high-level. But yeah, absolutely, Steve. We’ve engaged with many, many companies and thanks to you and to Eric and to Zach, and the rest of the team at FuzeHub, you’ve done a great job at helping to expand the Marquardt brand into bring high-potential companies to our attention. We’ve worked with some companies that are creating mechatronic products, so mechanical and electrical systems, we’ve talked to companies working in the medical industry, we’ve talked to some companies that are producing materials for packaging, biodegradable packaging, we’ve spoken with some companies that make really interesting and fun marketing products, which has been a great experience as well. It’s really been a pretty varied set of customers, but through FuzeHub, I mean, we never would’ve come into contact with these types of companies. And so we at Marquardt have been extremely appreciative of the support that FuzeHub has given, not only to us, but to these companies because I myself have tried to start companies on my own and I didn’t always know where to go. And I think that FuzeHub is doing an excellent job at finding the right partners that help these companies have the best chance for success.

Steve Melito: Oh, Chris, thanks. We’re very happy to have the opportunity to work with you, and you’ve been a great help already to these folks. So one last question for you. Last summer, FuzeHub had the privilege of working with Marquardt Partners to redesign your website, and has that new website helped with awareness of your capabilities and maybe some lead opportunities?

Chris Berry: Absolutely, Steve. As we mentioned earlier, we are a global company, and so we have resources available for a web presence, but it’s really as the Marquardt as a whole. And for this new type of business that we’ve been pursuing, I think it takes a new type of an approach to really match the type of energy that we’ve been going for. And you and your team had done an excellent job at really capturing that look and feel that we’re looking to have. And it has brought in new customers for us. Quite often, that’s the first touchpoint that we have with new customers, where we may not even know that they exist, they go to the site and they say, “You know what? This is the kind of company that I’m looking for that I think can help us get to that next level.” And we receive calls from companies all of the time, all around the country, for some very interesting opportunities, is the best way I could explain it. And I think that’s what helps keep it fun and fresh. And definitely brand awareness and new potential leads and partners, or even as a conduit for us to bring other business to companies within New York State. I mean, we quite often also match companies that approach us to other companies in the region. And so I think it’s been great for building that New York State ecosystem. It’s been great for Marquardt to expand our presence and our reach.

Steve Melito: That’s outstanding, Chris, that’s music to my ear. Thanks you so much for being on New York State Manufacturing Now.

Chris Berry: Absolutely. Thanks for having us, Steven. And thanks again to you and your team for everything you do for us.

Steve Melito: You bet. So we’ve been talking to Chris Berry, who is the Business Development Manager for Marquardt North America in Cazenovia, New York. And if you’d like a connection to Chris, of course you can go to the Marquardt Partners website, but FuzeHub can help you get there too. And if you’re wondering, am I ready to engage that contract manufacturer, we’d be happy to have a conversation with you. We’ve got some great engineering support on staff and we love to talk to startups. How do you do it? How do you work with us? Well, you just go to www. fuzehub. com, and look for the Speak to an Expert button. It’s in the middle of the homepage. Give it a click, complete the form, and you will hear back from a member of the FuzeHub Manufacturing Solutions program. So on behalf of FuzeHub and New York State Manufacturing Now, this is Steve Melito signing off.

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