Manchester firm finds customers in ‘all corners of the globe’


JP Sercel Associates’ global outlook helps it thrive despite recessionTapping into growing niche markets around the globe has helped southern New Hampshire’s JP Sercel Associates to thrive in spite of the recession.JPSA provides state-of-the-art excimer and diode-pumped solid-state industrial laser machining systems to customers around the world. The fully integrated laser systems are for use in industrial applications that handle micro-machining tasks.In other words, “what we can do very well is perform operations in very small dimensions with specialized laser energy,” said Charlie Cuneo, president of JPSA.JPSA, founded in 1994 by Jeff Sercel – now the company’s chairman and chief technology officer – moved from its original home in Hollis to its current facility in Manchester in January 2007. Originally begun as a consulting company to assist customers with excimer laser technology, it has since expanded into the production and installation of laser systems, but customers can still send difficult micro-machining problems to Sercel for solutions.Two of the company’s recent growth areas have been in LED and solar panel manufacturing.Because LED lights are being used in many new applications, like laptop monitors, flat-panel televisions and residential and industrial lighting applications, Cuneo said there has been a significant boom in business.“We provide enabling technology to the manufacturers of LEDs to singulate the devices that are manufactured and to remove them from the substrates that they’re manufactured on,” says Cuneo.Demand for solar panels has risen greatly in recent years, along with the increase in the search for alternative energy sources. JPSA taps into this market by providing lasers that can take very large glass panels and divide them into smaller solar cells. (The company’s new solar panel laser scribing system, the PV-5000, was a finalist for the New Hampshire High Technology Council’s 2009 Product of the Year.)In addition, the company provides micro-machining for medical device applications, like stents, catheters and other implantable devices.According to Cuneo, because the company has targeted high-growth areas, it has actually grown this year, in terms of sales volume and employees.“We’ve been really well-positioned this year in high-growth market opportunities that have helped us to avoid being severely impacted by the recession,” said Cuneo. ‘Around the clock’ Most of the company’s 70 employees are based in New Hampshire, but not all. The company also operates a service office in Malaysia.But that’s not the full extent of its global presence: The company has an international network of full-service sales representatives that operate in Japan, Korea, China, Germany, France and Australia – among others locations.These representatives, who not only sell equipment but also provide customer support, are native to the key-market areas they serve, which means all business can be done in the local language and through individuals who are familiar with the industrial base of the countries in which they work. This helps when dealing with differing local customs and regulations, said Cuneo.The representatives help JPSA to remain locally grounded but to work on a global scale -- something the firm intended since its earliest days.“The company from the very start had a global outlook,” said Cuneo. “Our markets are global markets.” For example, he said most of the world’s LED manufacturing is done in Asia, which is why the company maintains such a strong presence there.But JPSA’s products are manufactured in Manchester at its factory on Hackett Hill Road. Cuneo said the company’s customer base includes startups in China as well as some of the world’s largest electronics companies.“If you visit our factory, you’d see a bunch of systems being manufactured heading toward all corners of the globe,” said Cuneo, adding that these systems, which were first shipped in 1998, make up 75 percent of the company’s total sales.Since the industrial laser market is so large, Cuneo said, JPSA’s business model is to seek out market niches in which the company can be the dominant player then work closely with customers to get as much of their business as possible.While sales – about 60 percent of which come from the global market – have been largely unaffected by the recession, they have noticed some changes in business, said Cuneo.“Each order has been fiercely competitive,” he said. “We’ve had to fight harder to keep our business growing.”And because JPSA is often dealing with different time zones, international business necessitates quick communication technology and a devoted staff.“These days, I think that all of us here that deal with international business kind of view our homes as a second workplace,” said Cuneo, who added that it isn’t unusual for the management team to Skype, e-mail or text customers about their orders after dinner at home.They also use the Internet as a source of leads, as a way to stay in touch with customers and to complete transactions. “We operate around the clock,” he said. “It’s exciting having international business.”
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