Spokane Journal of Business

Visiontec seeks investors, hopes to raise $5 million

Company plans to double, maybe triple, floor space within the next six months

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Visiontec LLC, a Spokane contract manufacturer, is seeking investors and hopes to raise at least $5 million to buy new equipment and buy or lease additional manufacturing space here.


The 3-year-old company initially specialized in assembling cable harnesses used in computers, fax machines, and other electronic products. Now, it also performs surface-mount soldering on circuit boards and varied custom-assembly work for customers across Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. The company currently is looking to expand its customer base into California, says Rick Hansen, Visiontecs CEO.


Richard Tinsley, the companys vice president of manufacturing, says Visiontec has landed a big contract that within the next six months will require the company to double and possibly triple the amount of floor space it currently occupies. Tinsley and Hansen decline for now to disclose details about the new contract or to say whom its with.


Visiontec, which is searching for additional space, hasnt decided yet whether it will keep its current 12,000-square-foot office and manufacturing plant at 12926 E. Indiana and also open an additional facility, or close its current facility and move to larger quarters elsewhere, Tinsley says. He adds that the company would prefer to move into a facility with about 35,000 square feet of floor space.


Visiontec currently employs 45 people, up from five when it was launched three years ago. Hansen says he expects that employment figure to rise to between 55 and 60 by the end of the year. The company currently is looking to hire at least six people who could fill positions such as electronic-test technician, surface-mount-technology (SMT) rework and hand assembler, and SMT manufacturing engineer.


Visiontec soon will have to start looking outside of Spokane to find qualified SMT manufacturing engineerswho can expect to earn between $50,000 and $60,000 a year, Tinsley says. He says that there arent many people in Spokane who are trained as SMT manufacturing engineers, and those who are qualified already are employed at companies such as Itron Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.


About half of Visiontecs customers are located in the Spokane area, while the remainder are located elsewhere in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Within the next four years, however, Hansen expects only about 30 percent of the companys business to come from Spokane, with the remainder to come from elsewhere in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. Visiontec eventually plans to expand its customer base throughout the U.S., he says.


Hansen declines to disclose the companys annual revenue, but says sales so far this year already have surpassed those for all of 1998. He says Visiontec has experienced a 50 percent to 60 percent jump in annual revenue in each of the last two years.


In the next three years or so, Hansen plans to take Visiontec public. The company hasnt determined yet how much it could raise through an initial public offering, but Hansen says the company would use the proceeds from a stock offering to buy additional equipment and possibly to open manufacturing sites elsewhere.


He says the company eventually could operate as many as four such satellite manufacturing sites throughout the U.S. The sites, each of which likely would employ between 20 and 25 workers, would perform the same services as those provided here. The sites could be located in places such as Seattle; San Jose, Calif.; and Dallas and Austin, Texas, all of which have a number of high-tech companies that outsource to meet either part or all of their manufacturing needs, he says. Its those companies that Visiontec hopes to land as customers.


Visiontec was formed here in 1996 by five former employees of ISC Systems Corp., a Spokane high-tech company.


Hansen and Visiontec fellow founder John Combs are the only two of the five founders who remain with Visiontec. The others, David Mills and Mitch and Sheri Farris, left Visiontec in 1997. Hansen says Mills since has started another company here called Cables Inc.

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