Exploring Opportunities

Elcon Precision
Written by William Young

Elcon Precision LLC manufactures precision components and assemblies for multiple industries. Based out of San Jose, California, Elcon primarily serves market sectors like aerospace, medical, defense, and energy storage. The company’s processes generally involve developing smaller components for large applications such as X-ray systems and surgical devices for the medical market; ion engines, satellites, and space flight systems for aerospace clients; or ejection systems in helicopters. Its wide range of products and industries served along with its commitment to a higher standard of manufacturing places it in an enviable position amongst its competitors.

With any project, the company employs a method of quality assurance it identifies by the acronym ‘R.I.S.K.’, in which it rapidly identifies both risks and opportunities within an assignment, implements processes to ensure compliance within the necessary safety and regulatory guidelines, satisfies its customer’s expectations, and reinforces knowledge of its quality procedures throughout the company to ensure product and service uniformity.

Elcon has managed to grow substantially within the past year, and growth is forecast to accelerate with the recent refresh of its branding and website. As part of the refresh, the company surveyed its employees, customers and prospective customers to help more clearly define its values.

“We have invested in new technologies that allow for greater design freedom and faster production,” company Marketing Analyst Nikki Do explains. “We are not stagnant; we grow both internally and externally to provide customers with what they need.”

Elcon continues to increase the amount of research and development on the materials it uses through partnerships with local universities. This move also falls in line with the direction of the brand in that it is looking to develop better processes and a greater understanding of materials. Do mentions one such partnership with the Material Science Department at UC Davis that has led to new understandings of the dynamic properties of refractory materials. Elcon anticipates that this will lead to new customers, especially within the aerospace industry, as refractory metals are very resistant to heat and wear and can survive in the extreme environments of outer space. As the new branding increases awareness of Elcon’s capabilities, opportunities for growth increase in scope and importance.

Do and the Elcon team are excited about opportunities for partnership with non-profit organizations like India-based ‘Explore The Space’, an agreement that gives the team international exposure to space exploration. This past June Elcon’s president hosted a webinar targeted at university STEM students on the future of materials in space technology – what materials will be needed to not only explore space but to sustainably live there as well. In September of this year, they will host another webinar focused on the manned Artemis mission to the moon planned for 2024. The webinar will discuss and explore topics such as what systems are a part of the Artemis program, what challenges are posed in this mission, and what breakthrough technologies are needed to set up human colonies in space.

During its rebranding process, Elcon, like all other businesses and manufacturers, found itself amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It was certainly not unaffected by this but, because its products and services are important to the medical and national defense sectors, it continued operating at full capacity with virtually no slowdowns. The company recognized the importance of an engaging online presence, especially due to the lack of opportunities for employees to interact in person with customers during this time. The team developed a new website while conducting further research on customer markets to gain a greater understanding of the company’s value to prospective customers and the overall market. “We revamped how we communicate our value and our mission in order to give our customers a better experience,” Do explains.

Elcon honors the client-business relationship in as many ways as possible. The company values long-term partnerships in which it can be completely transparent with its client from the start of a project to production, with the goal of being the vendor of choice on new projects. It values client participation throughout its processes to ensure successful products, especially in high stakes industries like aerospace and medical devices.

Do cites the company’s work on projects like NASA’s recent DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission, creating key components for the NEXT-C solar electric ion thruster, and manufacturing parts that play important roles in satellite communication. Do lists refractory metal components, photo-chemically etched hemispherical grids and vacuum relay switches for radar systems as examples of how aerospace clients have sought the expertise of the company.

Do feels that the company’s Silicon Valley location is important to both its identity and success. Since its founding over 50 years ago in San Jose, Elcon has been surrounded by an innovative and problem-solving work culture which in turn permeates the company.

Silicon Valley is also a magnet for employees with diverse backgrounds and expertise, which helps the company attract independent thinkers who are unafraid to dive into new and complex applications. Do adds that Elcon is formed by a team of material scientists and fabrication experts who offer knowledge in specific materials that positively affects the success of the customer’s end applications, and this is something that Do feels a lot of companies today overlook.

Although Elcon is a key player in its industry, company officials are noticing a lot of recent consolidation among competitors. Do clarifies that current customers continue to grow organically and with new products but the pipeline of new customers is also growing in new technology areas like mobile energy storage, production space centers, automation and renewable energy. The challenge remains in figuring out what developing markets need or will need in the future.

Elcon is focused on moving several development projects into production before the end of 2021 and on investing in new production equipment and technologies. To achieve this, the company is hiring experienced engineers and technicians with experience in multiple industries.

“We didn’t lose much time in 2020 so we expect our projects in aerospace and medical to be particularly strong through 2022… a lot of our current projects are headed toward that direction,” says Nikki Do of the positivity felt within the company about its prospects. As momentum continues, Elcon Precision is breaking manufacturing boundaries by not only expanding its online presence, but also its technology, capabilities, and international market reach.

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