A Family-Centered Firm Continues to Grow

Delta Group Electronics

Delta Group Electronics is an electronic manufacturing service (EMS) provider. The fast-growing firm has ISO quality certifications at all of its plants, a reputation for top-notch work and a roster of well-known clients.
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While dealing with high-tech products and equipment, much of Delta’s success comes from being a family-centered company that respects its workforce, states Trey Johnson, plant manager at Delta Group’s Dallas, Texas facility.

“The majority of our customers are American-based. Some of them may ship products overseas. We may ship products to some of their facilities, but they are all based in America. Our plants are really spread out. We have facilities across the U.S. I would say our largest concentrations of customers are in Texas, New Mexico, California and Florida. We do also have quite a bit of business in the Northeast, in the Maryland/Washington D.C. area,” states Johnson.

This firm is headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has assembly operations in Dallas, Texas; San Diego, California; Rockledge, Florida and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Delta also has administrative offices in St. Louis, Missouri. All assembly facilities offer EMS services though some specialize in specific areas. The company currently has over 340 employees across all branches.

Delta has clients in the marine, defense, semiconductor, mining, telecommunications, aerospace, energy, transportation and medical sectors.

It assembles printed circuit boards (PCBs), cables and wiring harnesses as well as box-builds – what the company calls full-integration manufacturing. Additional services include inspection, testing, repair, and inventory management solutions.

Delta Group Electronics was incorporated in Albuquerque in 1987. “It was just one facility. It was a predominantly a circuit board assembly firm; then it started offering systems and cables [and other products]. But its original focus was just the assembly of circuit boards,” says Johnson.

Despite challenges, the company grew rapidly. In 1997, Delta Group was included on Inc. magazine’s annual Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private-sector companies in America. The expansion, fueled in part by acquiring other companies, continued. Delta plants also began picking up ISO and other industry quality certifications.

Today, Delta Group Electronics is a family-owned business, run by the Mueller family. Harry Mueller was one of the initial investors who launched the firm.

Each assembly plant is ISO 9001/AS9100 certified, and the San Diego facility has ISO13485 certification as well. In addition, Delta Group maintains annual International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) registration. ITAR registration is required for any U.S. companies engaged in manufacturing or exporting work for the defense sector or that offers services to this sector.

Delta has a corporate quality manager “responsible for overall AS and ISO compliance,” says Johnson. Each facility also “has a dedicated quality manager who works for the corporate quality manager,” he adds. Regular audits, inspections and tests are conducted to ensure quality is maintained. Delta Electronics maintains a corporate quality manual for the whole company and individual quality manuals for each assembly location.

Workforce training – conducted both on the job and in classrooms based at each facility – also contains a core element emphasizing quality issues. Keeping workers up-to-date and well-informed and treating them respectfully is central to the company’s mission.

The company, in turn, benefits having a dedicated, loyal workforce with years of experience. “We do not have a lot of turnover,” he states.

“One of the things we pride ourselves on and one thing that sets us apart from other businesses is the fact Delta has a very strong focus on the employee,” Johnson says. The company has regular employee appreciation events, continually invests in and retrains its workforce and pays some medical insurance and tuition costs for employees. The business places a strong focus on internal promotion.

“If you’ve been an employee of Delta Group for more than five years, we pay one hundred percent of your insurance. We have an average tenure of ten-plus years. We offer scholarships to children of employees. We also have a Good Samaritan fund for employees that are having a hard time making ends meet,” says Johnson.

In January 2017, Delta Group Electronics and two additional suppliers were awarded a combined $12 million contract to provide custom-fabricated electronic parts to a public sector client. The two-year contract has a scheduled January 2019 completion date. However, the contract contains options that could push the total value of the assignment to roughly $30 million and the completion date to January 2022.

“The $12 million contract is for a branch of the military, out of our San Diego facility. The Texas facility has multiple contracts with aerospace/defense… We have other projects. One thing we are proud of: we are the sole provider for several large customers,” says Johnson.

Delta’s underlying approach to suppliers is not that much different than its treatment of workers. “We look at suppliers, customers and employees the same way. At the end of the day, there has to be a mutually beneficial relationship and partnership. Our core values are not just for us. We look for the same core values in a supplier: integrity, commitment, fairness, cooperation, trust and respect,” says Johnson.

Delta Group Electronics hosts open houses and attends trade conferences but mainly relies on its reputation when it comes to promotion. Providing high-quality solutions and maintaining excellent relations with suppliers and contractors are vital to this effort.

“We work a lot with suppliers, people in the industry who put their feet on the ground in a lot of other facilities. We don’t expect them to promote us, but we want to be the first thing on their tongue if they’re asked [to recommend an EMS firm],” says Johnson.

As for the near future, “I would expect [Delta] will still be a family-owned business. We will continue to grow the existing facilities. What I expect in next five years, is for the existing five facilities to grow by around fifty percent. I would expect there to be new capabilities as technology changes in areas,” he states.

The aim is to “build on existing services and stay current with technology or ahead of the curve,” adds Johnson. Similarly, while there are no immediate plans to open new branches, Delta certainly is not adverse to the idea.

“We would add a presence. It may not be a facility but may be a sales presence… As businessmen, we always keep our eyes and ears open,” he says.

“The only reason to add a new branch is to expand our footprint. If there was an area of the country we felt we needed a presence, then we would look at procuring a competitor. We have a pretty large footprint. We go all the way from West to East… If anything comes up, however, we’re always open to it,” affirms Johnson.

“I really want to highlight that everything we do is only made possible because of the quality and commitment of our employees. This is not just a family-owned business; this is a family-centered business.”

“I can’t speak for other general managers, but on behalf of myself, this is a job we want our employees to take seriously, but it’s just a job. Their family comes first. Their personal health and personal happiness comes prior to profit and everything else. Delta Group’s core values will continue to focus on treating the employees as well as we can. Our job is not just to make money. It’s our job to give our employees the ability to live a good life,” he says.