Next-Level Electronic Manufacturing Services

VirTex Enterprises

VirTex Enterprises has grown from a prototype house into a full-fledged electronic manufacturing services (EMS) facility, building high-quality production equipment for customers across America in the automotive, aerospace and defence, industrial, and medical sectors. The company is recognized for its expertise, diversification, adaptability and ability to provide clients with competitive manufacturing costs.

Chief Executive Officer and Owner Brad Heath has had the vision of steadily growing VirTex since purchasing it in 1999. He is a chemical engineer and businessman experienced in manufacturing operations, process engineering, supply chain, and LEAN manufacturing.

Heath has overseen the expansion of the Austin Texas-headquartered company to about 450 employees and over 260,000 square feet of manufacturing space in eight facilities, soon to be nine with an upcoming acquisition.

“We can do everything from helping somebody with a design to actually having somebody bring a design concept to us,” says Senior Vice President of Business Development Jason Runge, “and we can design the product, produce it, and help them launch it to market.”

VirTex has been growing since its early days and was named one of Deloitte’s Fast 50 in the technology companies’ category in 2005.

Other achievements soon followed: inclusion on Inc. 5000’s list of Fastest Growing Companies and Managing Automation’s Leadership Mastery High Achiever and Progressive Manufacturing 50 Award in 2007. In 2016, it won Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Award in big data and advanced analytics and supply chain leadership.

VirTex is also being noticed by existing and new clients for a series of strategic acquisitions. These include the 2014 acquisition of MTI Electronics and, in 2018, the acquisition of low-to-medium electronics components manufacturer PPI-Time Zero which, according to the company, effectively doubled its footprint. It was acquired by Texas-based private equity firm Insight Equity Holdings LLC in October 2017.

VirTex increasingly works with military products and aerospace engineering customers. Earlier this year, it acquired Circuit Technology (Cirtech), a long-time printed circuit board and electromechanical assemblies maker with a strong presence in aerospace and defence. The move further solidified VirTex’s position as a more vertically-integrated EMS provider. The combined company will be further streamlined as it reworks its website, to be launched by the end of June, if not sooner.

It holds numerous certifications including ISO 9001:2015 for quality management, ISO 13485:2016 for medical devices and related services, AS9100D for defence and aerospace, and many others. “We are a Tier 2 to Tier 3 electronics manufacturing services company with vertical integration capabilities that have the capabilities and certifications of the larger Tier 1 EMS companies,” states Runge.

With an influx of capital from the sale to Insight Equity, VirTex is well-placed to work in the fields of aerospace, defence, medical, and high-reliability products. Its products are used in applications including down-hole oil and gas, the next generation of smart grid technology for green energy, and even electronic voting equipment. These are mission-critical products that must not fail, as that would seriously affect revenue streams.

The company works with clients throughout all stages, from new product introduction (NPI) services to printed circuit board (PCB) system prototyping, cable and wire harness, precision machining, system-level box build integration, repair and logistics, and beyond to end-of-life support.

VirTex is focused on helping local companies in Austin, the San Antonio area, and Houston. The company is located in the ‘Silicon Hills’ area of Austin, where many high-technology businesses like Apple, Cisco, IBM, and Google have offices. This area is also home to many upcoming companies launching new products.

“We try to go above and beyond to help any new companies within the area where it makes sense,” says Runge. “So our goal is, we want to grow individually, but we also want to grow the Austin area in the region to be the high-reliability manufacturing hub of the United States.”

Another growing area of electronic manufacturing services is the U.S. Military. Army Futures Command, under the leadership of Commanding General John M. Murray, is slated to build its new headquarters in Austin.

Army Futures Command is focused on modernizing the way the army does business through new technologies and exploring development and testing. It is believed that all next-generation military products of the military will be managed through the Army Futures headquarters for the next ten to fifteen years, presenting lots of opportunities for the local business community and third-party organizations who will be the suppliers to the army.

“Our goal is to work with the new engineering group,” states Runge. “There will be over one hundred military personnel that will be part of this and a lot of civilian engineers working with them that are going to be running these programs. So our goal is to work with them to help grow their businesses and help us figure out how we can help the government and individuals who are protecting the great United States that we live in with the next-generation defence products for the future.”

VirTex promotes itself to new clients through face-to-face meetings, trade shows, and primarily digital marketing campaigns. Many of the companies with which it works with are divisions of other larger businesses, many of them large third-party military defence suppliers that have aerospace companies and multiple divisions across the U.S. Realizing this, it is focused on getting itself onto approved supplier lists, which often leads to long-term contracts.

For Jason Runge and the entire management team, the future is not only about being the most comprehensive EMS company but building long-lasting relationships with other businesses.

“It’s all about partnerships, and that’s one thing we pride ourselves on,” says Runge. “We are a very flexible company and realize there’s not just one way of doing business. Each individual customer has its own personality, its own scope of what their problem statements are, or the needs or functions that are required. We taught ourselves to be able to work with the customer and create a partnership. We don’t just want to be a supplier to a company – to one of our end customers – we want to be a partner with a customer. We’re going to be flexible; we’re going to help them work out problems, and we’re going to be there for the long run as they grow and as we grow, which makes it profitable for both parties.”

Security as Culture

If you take a close look at all the many gadgets and electronic devices that fit into your daily life you’ll likely find that an exceedingly large number of them are made in China. This probably won’t surprise you, as offshore manufacturing has been a staple of the North American electronics market for almost fifty years. Beyond electronic gizmos, you’ll also find that toys, clothes, even some food products are being manufactured in low-cost foreign regions. This has been a prevailing reality for a very long time, but things are about to change.

Past Issues

December 9, 2019, 1:56 PM EST