MTT-S / International Microwave Symposium (IMS) and The Pasternack Story
Immediately following the conclusion of the MTT-S International Microwave Symposium (IMS) show in San Francisco this year, I sat down with John Farley, director of marketing for Pasternack Enterprises. John helped illuminate the multiple layers of Pasternack’s RF products and services, the unique way they do business and their experience at this year’s show.
Judy Warner: John, tell me about Pasternack and your involvement here at IMS 2016. Namely, what were your overall impressions, and what did you feature and display at the show?
John Farley: Well, IMS was a great time, obviously. It was great to get together with the industry and be with engineers and manufacturers and the media and just have some fun together. We didn’t show any product here this year because we carry over 40,000 products. It’s always, “Well, what would we bring from our huge selection?” It’s just not feasible; we add thousands of products every year and continue to do that.
Warner: Yeah, 40,000 parts is a little much to carry to a trade show! Then let me re-phrase, what did you discuss with the parade of RF engineers and designers who visited your booth, and what would our readers like to know about Pasternack?
Farley: Fundamentally, engineers and designers should know that Pasternack’s mission is to provide urgently needed product and component solutions that solve the common problems they face on daily basis. We do that with a huge selection of products: passive components, active components, and interconnect products, as well as a huge custom cable assembly operation. We warehouse and make all of these products available for immediate shipment, which ultimately saves time and helps keeps thing on schedule. Typically, if you have a problem, maybe it’s a machine that’s broken or a part or maybe you’re trying to put together a prototype and you don’t have time to wait for parts. We’re here to save the day.
Warner: As far as the traditional distribution model goes, obviously, stocking is counter-intuitive. What is different about your philosophy that makes you actually keep some of the things on hand and available to engineers—particularly, the ones who are developing products and need to get it done, proved-out and to market quickly. This is not typically the segment of the market distributors cater to.
Farley: Yes, you’re right. Our model is very different from a distributor. For starters, Pasternack only sells Pasternack-branded product. That’s what we carry. Our products are manufactured for us by leading suppliers all over the world to Pasternack’s specifications and backed by a warranty from Pasternack. They’re manufactured to our design. We warehouse them and make them available on our website with published pricing and inventory.
Warner: Licensing-wise, can you reveal who some of those companies are?
Farley: No, I can’t. Just know they are the biggest names you readily recognize in the RF industry.
Warner: So pretty much all the big RF parts manufacturers we spent the week with. So, do you play exclusively in the RF space?
Farley: RF, microwave and millimeter wave—all throughout that space. The one partnership we have that we do discuss with people is a partnership with Ducommun. Ducommun does make pretty much their entire line available under the Pasternack brand. You can visit Ducommun’s site and find a translation between Ducommun’s part numbers and Pasternack’s part numbers.
Warner: That’s helpful. To shift gears a bit—you made a comment to me earlier that Pasternack doesn’t do a lot of tradeshows. So tell us why IMS is one of those few and what value it might have brought to you this year?
Farley: IMS does a great job. It’s the industry’s biggest gathering and it’s important that we support it and participate in it and be involved in this community. The company has always attended IMS, but it’s only been the past few years that we’ve had a booth space at IMS. That transition really just happened because we’re very involved in the industry, and we’ve been a part of the industry forever. We want to celebrate and support it by presenting here as well. We have a lot of fun at these shows and really enjoy getting to see our customers face-to-face, and hopefully get a few new ones.
A funny side-note; for the second year in a row, we’ve run a booth contest where we ask engineers to guess the number of parts we have in this beautiful glass display case. It’s a bit of an engineering challenge so it’s sort of fun. Engineers are who we work with, so we like to try to give them a fun challenge. Coincidentally, each year, an engineer has guessed within two parts.
Warner: That’s unbelievable! Leave it to an RF engineer to get the math spot-on, and guess within tolerance!
Farley: That’s right. This year’s count was well over 4,000 parts and the guess was within two.
Farley: It’s fun to watch. I enjoy asking them what their methodology was for arriving at their conclusions. Some are guesses and some are very complex. It’s pretty cool.
Warner: And what do you give away?
Farley: We’ve given away a drone each year.
Warner: That’s fun and a fitting give away for this show.
Farley: Everything we do at this show, we want to connect back to engineering. Drones are fun. We all want a drone. They are neat little toys that maybe you don’t want to buy for yourself, but it’s cool when you get one. Of course, they’re wireless. It’s a nice time.
Warner: That’s great. I know that Pasternack has an international footprint. What countries are you in?
Farley: We have 19 distributors around the world. Basically, all of Europe is covered. All of Asia is covered. We actually have a Pasternack office in Shanghai, as well as a distributor in China. We sell across the entire globe, literally, and I once investigated web visits from around the world and discovered that there was only one country in the entire world that had not visited our website within the 2015 calendar year.
Warner: That’s impressive.
Farley: We do have these 19 distributors around the world, even though we have a website, you can call us and we ship direct anywhere. We have distributors to assist and support customers in their local language, in their currency, and in their time zone. That’s really important.
Warner: Of course, makes perfect sense. If you were talking to an engineer or designer today, give us a quick Pasternack one-time pitch. You’re an engineer, you’re developing a product and you need to get it done quickly. How can Pasternack be a valuable partner?
Farley: I would say you should visit our site. We have a very robust parametric search on our website. If it’s parts that you need, our site allows you to drill down and identify the product that will meet your specifications very quickly. It’s the entire breadth in the category from low frequencies to high frequencies, from passive to active to interconnect, so we’ve got all the parts for you. You can order right online or call that order in. You can email in. It’s very easy to do business with us. If you order before 4 p.m. PST, we will ship it that day.
We have three levels of technical support. If you’re questioning is this the right part I need or is there some combination that you’re not sure about, that’s great. We’ll get you on the phone or on chat or on email with RF engineers who have been in this business an average of 25 years, so we offer great support. You’ll also find they’re extremely detailed and we think we have the industry’s best data sheets. If you identify a product that you need, our data sheets should be able to confirm that it will, in fact, meet your specifications without any other fuss on your part. Then you can also find on the site tools to help you: RF calculators, technical charts, etc. It’s just designed to support the Engineers daily life.
Warner: Awesome. The last thing that piqued my interest when I looked at your website awhile back was custom cables. It sounds like you’re turning those around very quickly, which is often a need. Tell us about how you ended up doing custom cable work
Farley: Because we warehouse for same day shipment many different types of coaxial cable and connectors, it became a natural thing to manufacture cable assemblies for our customers. The company has done that for a very long time. That work is all done in-house per order. We have a full team that works very hard to make sure that the order today goes out today. We’ve recently added a tool we call the Cable Creator™, which is really a neat tool for engineers. It allows them, from our website, to select the connectors you need and the cable you need in any physical and electrical compatible combination. You can select your solder options and labeling options and lots of different things there.
It won’t let you build something that’s silly or doesn’t work. You can build up to 250,000 different combinations. If you select a combination that is not already on our site, it will issue a unique part number; it will give the product a name and it will give the product a price, all on the fly. It will allow you to add that product to your shopping cart and purchase it right there. No more of that, “That’s great. We can do that. Give us your information and we’ll send you a quote.” The quote is instant, the ordering is instant, and it goes out same day.
Warner: That software must have been a heck of a thing to put together. I’ve been fascinated to learn about it and I can really see how it all fits into this unique market. Thanks so much, John, for telling the Pasternack story and about your week here at IMS. We’ll look forward to seeing you at the next show.
Farley: Thanks, Judy.