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Overcoming Adversity: Thriving in Challenging Times

Overcoming Adversity: Thriving in Challenging Times

by Casey Krawiec, VP of Global Sales, StratEdge Corporation

The pandemic has dealt severe blows to companies from many different industries. Some have been hit much harder than others. As a company that specializes in the design, production, and assembly of high-frequency and high-power semiconductor packages for microwave and millimeterWave devices, including those used in defense and aerospace applications, StratEdge has an essential business designation. As such, StratEdge has remained open throughout the pandemic. In fact, the entire semiconductor industry appears to be doing just fine. It’s good to be in an industry where even in a bad year, growth, at worst, remains flat.

Companies that started implementing COVID-19 protections early understood the new challenges. Events were canceled and social distancing and masks were required. Video conferencing capabilities were installed and deployed to ease communication with customers and staff. Business travel was curtailed or postponed. Job responsibilities were analyzed and all employees who could work remotely were asked to do so. Accommodations for staff with school-aged children were made, since their kids had to be watched while attending school remotely.  Smart companies adapted.

StratEdge has always been a nimble company, making adjustments in strategy or product offerings to stay competitive in the semiconductor packaging and assembly business. A 2017 factory fire tested the company’s resolve.  The fire originated somewhere in the plating area, which included nickel and gold plating lines. The burning plastics and chemicals created plumes of caustic smoke that essentially gutted the building. It was a devastating loss, but the recovery taught us how to overcome adversity.

Figure 1: Fire and smoke damage to StratEdge from 2017 factory fire

Since the pandemic, rather than focusing on what we can’t do, we’ve focused on what we can do. Production capacity was increased in the new facility and focus was placed on improving factory yields and efficiencies. Investments in R&D were increased. For example, our R&D team continued its development of new ceramic QFNs for 5G millimeterWave applications and satellite projects.

The old saying about when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, is true. Whether it be a factory fire or a worldwide pandemic, companies have to make wise decisions during challenging times. StratEdge is better positioned to support its customers, including those with aerospace and military applications, than ever before.

Figure 2: New StratEdge headquarters in Santee, California

For 2021, we’re anticipating a rise in 5G infrastructure build-out projects. We are optimistic that if the government debt from fighting COVID-19 doesn’t squash spending in the defense and aerospace sectors, demand for our high-reliability packages, especially for gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) devices, will continue to grow. StratEdge, despite these challenging times, is well-positioned to thrive in 2021.