Meadhbh Monahan profiles Elite Electronics, which has a base in both Enniskillen and South Carolina.

Company: Elite Electronic Systems Ltd Formed: 1986 Chairman – Ronnie Balfour Managing Director – David Allen Locations: Lackaboy Industrial Estate, Enniskillen and South Carolina Description: An Electronic Contract Manufacturer, Elite provides printed circuit board (PCB) assembly, cable and wire assembly and finished products (i.e. a box build integrating multiple components, for example, digital audio compression technology used by organisations such as Disney and leading news broadcasters.) Overview: Established in 1986 by Ronnie Balfour, Elite Electronic Systems Ltd originally serviced F.G. Wilson (a privately owned generator manufacturer, which was sold to Emerson Electric in 1995 and taken over by Caterpillar in 1996.) Caterpillar is still one of Elite’s key customers. It currently supplies cable harnesses and control systems to Caterpillar’s Newberry facility in south Carolina. In 2007, Elite established a facility in South Carolina which now employs 70 people.

Over the years, Elite progressed into further markets such as medical devices, power generation and telecommunications.

In 2009, the locally grown business received a major “boost” by securing the contract to provide power supply components to CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. “We have worked on several projects with them over the years,” David Allen comments. “Invest NI took us on a trade mission and we made contacts. Invest NI also brought the CERN procurement team to the Enniskillen plant enabling Elite to show its expertise and manufacturing technology.” He notes: “It’s a psychological boost for all the workforce to be associated with those sort of projects.” Elite has secured customers across the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland. Mr. Allen explains: “We also ship to America, Brazil, Algeria, France, Czech Republic, China and Australia. We buy in all the components from our global sources and assemble the products, do the final test and ship the product globally.” Sample of products and customers: * Heart Sine, Belfast: develops advanced mobile defibrillators for the treatment of Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

* STATSports Technologies, Newry: developer of ‘Viper’, a health monitoring system which maps and monitors the work rate of the world’s top sporting stars – used by soccer clubs (including Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Northern Ireland), rugby teams (including Harlequins, the New Zealand Chiefs, Ulster, Leinster and Connacht), and GAA teams.

* Andor Technology, Belfast: develops high level spectrometry equipment.

* Vitalograph Ireland, Ennis, County Clare: provider of cardio-respiratory diagnostic devices.

* CEM, Belfast: develops alarm systems for airport security.

* Camlin Power, Lisburn: provides innovative asset and network management products for power systems (i.e. detects faults in electricity systems).

* APT, Belfast: developer of digital audio compression technology (high-level broadcasting equipment).

* CERN, Switzerland: Elite supplies power supply, including units for use with the magnets at the core of the Large Hadron Collider.

Surviving the economic downturn: “Elite has made strategic acquisitions of new equipment and technology and created a sales and marketing team and a campaign of brand awareness,” Mr. Allen states. “We also have an adaptable, highly trained workforce which is key for us. We can transfer people from particular sections of the business if need be.” All operators must be trained to an international standard: IPC610, IPC620, IS09001, and IS013485 (which is essential for manufacturers of medical devices).

Elite’s most recent investment was last year; new surface mount technology (commonly called ‘pick-and-place machines’) – robotic machines used to place surface-mount devices onto a printed circuit board.

Future opportunity and advice for business: “We are seeing quite a lot of opportunity from customers who are re-shoring,” Mr. Allen states. “Companies are now saying: ‘What we are saving by doing business in China, we are losing through transport or lack of flexibility’. They are now bringing product home.” He advises: “You are only as good as your last job.” Important factors are: “Reputation, ability to perform, deliver on time, and quality product.”