SemiZone: Steven Chisolm of Pall Corporation

We sat down with industry experts at SEMICON West to cull their best business, trends and marketing insights. Here’s what Steven Chisolm of Pall Corporation had to say.

Hi Steve. Thanks for sitting down with us – we love the secret meeting room you have built within your booth at SEMICON West! Can you give us a quick overview of Pall Corporation?Stephen Boyer

Pall Corporation is a multinational company headquartered on Long Island, NY. We’re a material science company. Our key products are filtration and purification solutions for a variety of industries. Those industries include microelectronics, biomedical, pharmaceutical; as well as heavy duty machinery equipment, the energy market and aerospace – basically we cover all high tech and heavy industry.

We’re hearing a lot from folks about the cyclical nature of the industry. What are some of the challenges you see ahead on the materials side?

Fundamentally when we look at the market, we look at it from three facets. What’s going on with wafer starts – with IBM, Global Foundries, etc. In addition, we have a heavy presence with the OEMs – so we take a look at what the book to bill is. Lastly, we look at the material suppliers a well.

What we’re seeing is a slowing in CapEx, so that’s affecting some of the equipment buys and affecting some of that revenue associated with OEMs. But, the material market is very strong. You have a lot of new materials coming on board and be utilized in processing – that market is very strong for us.

What do you see as the big technology push and pulls with your customers?

You have to look at IBM and the foundries; it all becomes, for us, about uptime and yield. Our products are the enablers of process, so we make sure that our products don’t add contaminants because we’re suppose to take them out. At the same point and time, we try to make them ergonomically correct so if we’re in a situation where (our customers) have to make change outs on tools, we’re not impacting their downtime.

The R&D side, whether it be directly related to 450 or related to 1X nodes, is still robust.

You’re one of the companies that tells your brand story really well. Who else in the industry has mastered marketing?

I think that of the large companies – the large capital equipment companies – everyone knows those brands. Those brands are very tight. The material companies as well. Anyone who plays in the space wants to have scale and presence do a good job at projecting their brands.

M&A is big the in semiconductor industry right now. As someone who operates across many industries, where do you see opportunities for multi-industry convergence?

The one thing that I’ve talked about for a while is the idea of digital convergence. When we start to take a look at what how these consolidations come about, we look at, for example, the display space on the semiconductor side. People start to talk about how flexible electronics was only a dream 10 or 15 years ago, but is now a reality. We think we’re poised well to take advantage of that because of the presence that we have in displays and also ink jet; marry that into semiconductors and people talk about flexible displays. What is going to drive that is flexible display and flexible electronics and the whole idea of wearable electronics. That’s another area of the industry to look to for growth.

Looking ahead to 2015 – how do things look?

(2014) has been an OK year so far – slightly muted. The jury is still out on 2015. It’s the economy. So much of microelectronics is controlled by the consumer; it’s a consumer business at the end state with the device. What happens with the GDP and consumer confidence will affect things.

This industry is predictably unpredictable. What is your advice for companies look to ride out the down and make hay on the upside?

The most successful companies will keep their R&D turning throughout a down cycle. They should keep their people who are excellent on the street – since it’s about making sure you’re in constant contact with your customer. You have to resist the idea of running your business to the cycle. And, you have to constantly invest because that what this industry is. The people who do those things well will succeed.

SemiZone: Joe Cestari of Total Facility Solutions

We’re sitting down with industry experts through the week at SEMICON West to cull their best business, trends and marketing insights. Here’s what Joe Cestari of  Total Facility Solutions had to say.

Joe – tell us about your company, Total Facility Solutions.

Our primary focus is mechanical and electrical contracting, more specifically process system solutions for the semiconductor industry, but also biopharmaceutical, and science and research markets.

When did you first attend SEMICON West? What’s changed?Total Facility Solutions' Joe Cestari

1986! Back then it was a different venue. People wore flip flops, had trailers with BBQ, and you could actually secure a purchase order. Today, resumes trade hands more than not.

All we knew in 1986 was what we didn’t know. For the first 15 years, it was the place to come and learn the secrets of the industry. And now you know the secrets within nanoseconds of when they happen. Or, more importantly, you create the secrets because, I believe in this industry, rumors become reality in 6 months or less.

Given that, how has TFS approached it’s participation in SEMICON West?

For TFS, SEMICON West is about the efficiency of putting together meetings and opportunities – no different than how we look at what we do every day in building and looking at the most efficient way to construct things. For us, having 25 meetings in 3 days is something you can’t do logistically or financially otherwise. We leverage our global network while here.

What’s your perspective on the changing cycle of the industry from a builder’s perspective?

For one, the cycle of the whole industry has compressed significantly.  What that means for all of us is much faster adaptation. Toolsets and process recipes change –  literally – daily. Flexibility is the key.

The days of building a single facility for a single product are gone. That dynamic of change for us, as somebody that’s doing equipment installation and fab construction, is a challenge. It was one thing to move a tool in 4 hours. Today to move a piece of equipment could take 2 weeks and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Planning is critical.

Sometimes as a customer, with the way the market is going from an end demand standpoint, you don’t know early enough what you need to be building… you don’t know what your toolset is, which means you don’t know which gases and materials you need. Yet, for us (as builders), the material lead times haven’t changed. We’re left to deal with that unaltered factor when we only have 4 days to react to a change from our customer. It’s a phenomenon for us.

Sounds like that puts manufacturers in a tough spot.

The supply chain and the number of players is shrinking. We used to talk about collaboration and not implement. Now the dynamics have changed back to where collaboration is absolutely necessary. Without a collaborative environment, things won’t get done. Collaborative discussions need to happen all the time, in real time.

We’re marketers at Zone 5, so we always like to ask: who do you think is telling their story well is this industry?

Well, I consider myself a wanna be marketer!

On one hand, people say this industry doesn’t need marketing – everyone knows everyone. And print advertising in this business is essentially gone. So that leaves you with a technology driven business that’s looking for a technology in the marketing arena.

There are those that have been so dominant in their success in terms of performance that their brand has followed their reputation (i.e. Applied Materials). On the other end of spectrum, there’s still as much start up activity and as much innovation in the small company environment as there ever has been. There are people in that space believe that marketing is important and that you need to get your story out. Communicating why should someone buy their product or technology is more important than ever.

Joe CestariFUN FACT: Joe grew up on Long Island, but is now based in Texas. Hence these beautiful boots!

Snapshots of San Francisco

San Francisco FunMy colleagues Todd and Tim have spent the early part of this week blogging on the SemiZone about marketing and technical insights at SEMICON West, the annual flagship event for the global microelectronics industry. While I’ve been in on the SemiZone too, I wanted to share snapshots colorful experiences we’ve had so far in the hilly city of San Francisco.

Lunch in Sausalito; Boarding down Lombard Street; Some serious stair and hill workouts; and, of course, the token Golden Gate Bridge snap.

 

SemiZone: Dan Hutcheson of VLSIresearch

We’re sitting down with industry experts through the week at SEMICON West to cull their best business, trends and marketing insights. Here’s what Dan Hutcheson of VLSIresearch had to say.

You’re the CEO of VLSIresearch – tell us a little about the company.

We track the semiconductor markets. We follow the data, trying to figure out where the next twists and turns are going to come in this crazy industry.

VLSIresearch's Dan Hutcheson

VLSIresearch’s Dan Hutcheson

We’re seeing a lot of talk this week with the challenges of 450. What are you hearing on the ground from companies regarding 450 integration?

Realistically, the push for 450 has slowed down since SEMICON last year because there wasn’t a strong industry consensus. No one is worried about building the next 450 fab; instead, they are moving forward in a long step fashion. With the industry turning up, they need capacity so there has been more investment. Between new demand and the fact the 450 question seems to be over, that’s what’s driving the industry this year.

Great point about capacity. Where do you see capacity and decision points right now?

Capacities are really important right now. Every (industry) cycle I’ve been through, I see companies making the same mistake and that’s companies looking at the capacity they have based on the products they are producing today and think we have tons of capacity. And, next year when new designs are hitting the fabs and they need completely different capability and they find that they didn’t have the capacity they thought they did. It’s a really dynamic game they wind up scrambling into.

Where do you see numbers landing through the end of the year?

If we look at the semiconductor market in the 1st quarter, it ended about 11% above where it’d been the year before.  It’s coming in about 12-13% ahead this quarter – it’s a pretty hot growth year. The other thing that’s really new is there’s a lot more growth for silicon demand. That’s driving a need for more capacity.

As branders we’re always looking at is how people are telling their story.  What do you see as the great branding story in the industry this year?

The big story is the new Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron Limited. That’s the big branding story of this show. Eteris stands for eternal innovation for society. It’s naming something that has a real meaning to it. One really good thing about this new brand is it’s a clear communication to every employee in that organization to focus on innovation.

How has marketing landscape shift affected your company?

It’s really changed. Conventional media has been flipped on its head by social media. The impact of it for us is, we do a lot more social media marketing. We do SEO. We publish weekly e-newsletters.

FUN FACT: Dan has a passion for photography. He bought a digital camera in the late 90s and quickly found himself doing more with the medium. As he traveled, his customers caught glimpses of his work and encouraged him to integrate his photography into his business. Today, he incorporates these visuals into his presentations, adding a different flare to his industry take.