Spokane Journal of Business

Tate Technology sees jump in sales this year

Despite recent dip, young electronics manufacturer now employs 85 people

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Tate Technology Inc., a 2-year-old Spokane electronics company, expects to post sales this year of about $3.6 million, more than double the $1.5 million in sales the company tallied last year.

Lee Tate, owner of Tate Technology, which assembles circuit boards under contract for electronics manufacturers such as Spokane-based Telect Inc., credits the companys growth to a significant jump in orders the company received earlier this year from both existing and new customers.

Tate says the company currently employs about 85 people, up from 48 at the end of last year, but down from the 120 workers it had on staff as recently as August.

He says the company had to beef up its staff earlier this year with seasonal and temporary workers to fulfill its surge in orders, but the market since has softened some. As a result, Tate Technology reduced its work force about two months ago. Tate says 19 temporary workers were laid off, seven of whom have since been rehired. Most of the others, he says, were college and high school students on summer break.

About 20 of the companys permanent hires are Russian, having emigrated from such former Soviet republics as Siberia, Kazakstan, and the Ukraine. The Russian workers, who speak little or no English, are trained visually with hand signals and diagrams, Tate says.

About 75 percent of Tate Technologys production is circuit-board manufacturing. The company does both surface-mount work, in which components are soldered onto the surface of a circuit board, and traditional circuit-board construction, in which the tiny metal leads of the components are pushed through holes in a board and then soldered to the other side. Tate Technology also assembles entire electronic products for some customers.

Tate predicts that the companys growth will remain flat in the first half of 1999, as its biggest customer, Telect, shifts some of its workload to its Liberty Lake facility.

Tate Technology likely will experience a boost, however, during the second half of next year, as it picks up new customers, he says.

In addition to Telect, the company does work for such manufacturers as Mitel, the big Canadian telecommunications company; Kim Hotstart Manufacturing, of Spokane; and Key Tronic Corp., also of Spokane.

Tate Technology also has customers in Western Washington and scattered throughout Canada.

Tate Technology is located in a 39,000-square-foot, two-story building at 3102 E. Trent that Tate bought earlier this year. The company occupies about 11,000 square feet of manufacturing space on the main floor of that building, which recently has been refurbished and now houses six other businesses.

A seventh tenant, Spokane School District 81, has leased space in the building and plans to open an assessment center for its special-education department there.

  • Chad Cain

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