Spokane Journal of Business

Servatron stays on growth track

Company projects $30 million in sales by end of ’18

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-—Kevin Blocker
Servatron’s Tom Vietri and Tod Byers say the company has secured an additional 13,000 square feet of space to accommodate growth.

The president of Spokane Valley-based Servatron Inc., a maker of electronic circuitry boards, says he expects the company to top $26 million in sales this year, which was the sales total the company reached last year.

“Based on our current trend, we fully expect that we can reach $30 million in sales by the end of 2018,” says Servatron President Tod Byers. Servatron topped $21 million in sales in 2015, he says.

To accommodate growth, the company, which turned 17 on May 15, recently secured another 13,000-square-feet of leased space at 12825 E. Mirabeau Parkway, giving Servatron a total of 70,000 square feet of space there for its operations.

A spinoff of Liberty Lake-based Itron Inc., Servatron began with 78 employees and one customer. The company now has almost 170 employees, up from 150 just a year and a half ago, and more than 40 customers around the world. Byers expects Servatron to hire at least a half-dozen more employees before the end of the year.

The demand to meet production deadlines has forced Servatron to operate two production shifts, says Tom Vietri, the company’s vice president of sales.

The main production line, which includes about 100 workers, operates weekdays, while a smaller production group of roughly 30 workers begins a shift at night and continues to the following morning.

Servatron operates on two floors. The upper level includes office space, a machine shop, and computer engineering and programming departments. 

The majority of the company’s work space is located on the lower level in more than 30,000 square feet dedicated to manufacturing circuit boards and circuit cards, Byers says.

Servatron’s original niche was fulfilling orders for wireless, or more specifically, radio frequency, or RF products, for other companies. However, in the last few years, the company has started branching out in an effort to grow its customer base, Byers says.

“Our growth has been a combination of customer growth and feeding off their growth,” Byers says. “We’re busier in the last five years than we’ve ever been.”

Near the end of 2015, Servatron secured an AS9100 aerospace certification, which is a quality management standard for the aerospace industry and has become crucial for companies that want to supply into the mainstream aerospace market.

That effort helped secure a three-year contract with AvtechTyee, an Everett, Wash.,-based manufacturer of electronic systems for the aerospace industry, to test and assemble that company’s electronic circuit boards, Byers says.

AvtechTyee has developed and manufactured electronic systems for the aerospace industry for more than 40 years. It has more than 450 customers in 49 countries around the world.

And last year, Servatron secured an ISO 13485 certification that meets quality management standards for medical devices.

Servatron now has the ability to build electronic circuit boards for medical machines used at hospitals and clinics.

Servatron hasn’t stopped there, as its manufacturing customers extend well beyond the aerospace and medical sectors, Byers says.

“We’re touching a ton of different industries—Redbox and Coinstar—they’re just a few of the more prominent companies that we’re making circuitry for,” Byers says. “We’ve expanded our footprint significantly, and with that has come more attention from businesses who want to partner with us.”

“Circuit cards, circuit boards … we’re building pieces of the overall system. We’re really good at solving technology challenges in a short timeframe, and our reputation is building. We’ve positioned ourselves well across many different industries,” he says.

Vietri credits Servatron’s sales team of roughly a half-dozen representatives in Western Washington for aggressively pursuing new customers.  “They’re turning over a lot of rocks,” Vietri says of the sales staff mining for new accounts.

All component manufacturing is done here, and Byers says Servatron wants to keep it that way.

“Our goal is to expand and keep our manufacturing capabilities in Spokane,” he says.

The company has made $2.5 million in capital expenditures over the last few years, and nearly half that was focused on improving its infrastructure for what’s called surface-mount technology.

That move, says Byers, has helped engineers and technicians improve the speed and accuracy of making a circuit board and tailoring it to each customer’s individual specifications.

Surface-mount technology is a method for producing electronic circuits where components are mounted directly onto the surface of a printed circuit board. Servatron also has the ability to build printed circuit boards, or PCBs, in-house as well, Byers says.

Byers is the last of the four original founders that started the business after leaving Itron. Both he and Vietri grew up in Moscow, Idaho, and have known each other since kindergarten.

Despite the company’s recent strong growth, the two longtime friends say there is one number that stands out to them that they believe captures the essence of Servatron as an employer.

“The average tenure of our employees is eight and a half years, and that’s across roughly 170 people,” Byers. “Our goal was to always become a destination point. And it appears as though we’re achieving that.”

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