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Flextronics Masters the Quick Fix

The following is an excerpt from the Fall Issue of Memphis Crossroads. To see the original article or view the full magazine click here.

Richard Bomar knows that when most think about laptop repair, they probably first think about some guy behind a store counter. 

But at Flextronics, where Bomar serves as the plant manager, about 500 technicians work on anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 laptops per day. If you’ve ever had to ship off a broken Lenovo laptop, chances are it came to Flextronics in Memphis.

The company began operating in Memphis around 2002. Flextronics now employs 815 in Memphis at its space on East Holmes Road. That figure is up from 600 employees just over a year and half ago.

The Memphis operation is a part of a massive global company, Flextronics International Ltd., based in San Jose, Calif. The company bills itself as an end-to-end supply chain solutions company. It helps companies design, build and ship products from industries such as energy all the way to aerospace. All in, the company operates in 30 countries on four continents with $26 billion in sales, according to the company’s public filings with the SEC. 

But fixing laptops (and some tablets) is what keeps Flextronics busy in Memphis, and Bomar calls the service “an amazing customer experience.” 

“Your laptop might literally break on one day, and you’ll call the center and receive a shipping box (from the company) the next day,” Bomar said. “You ship it. We get it the next day and then ship it back to you on the following day. So, it’s like a four-day process, from breaking to working to back in their hands.”

Aerotropolis Exemplified 
Bomar’s quick to point out that this magic could not happen without the FedEx cargo hub at Memphis International Airport. Deliveries can come in as early as 4:30 a.m. and shipments can go out as late as 11:30 p.m. It’s this window that allows the four-day turnaround for Flextronics here. 

But he points out that one of his big clients uses FedEx and the other uses UPS, which has its third-largest cargo hub at Memphis International.

It’s all a great example of how the Memphis Aerotropolis concept is working here, he said. Transportation infrastructure already creates a “ton of jobs here,” he said. And it could create even more.

When the Aerotropolis got a $1.2 million federal grant in 2010, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr., said “jobs and homes are the by-product of airport access and focused economic development.” 

Congressmen Steve Cohen introduced two bills earlier this year to boost the Aerotropolis development, which would provide millions of federal dollars to the program. 

“The need to ship and receive goods more quickly and over longer distances is increasing by the day,” Cohen said in May. “Establishing Aerotropolis transportation systems in Memphis and across the country will kick-start economic growth, create jobs, improve our freight transportation network and enable us to compete more effectively in the modern global economy.”

Growth potential
Working on laptops is a sustainable business in the U.S., Bomar said, mainly because it’s still a unique device in the quick-cycled tech industry.

“When I send my laptop in, I don’t want somebody else’s back. I don’t want a replacement,” he said. “I want my laptop back with my data on it configured the way I like it.”

So as long as Americans want their personal machines back and want them back quickly, Bomar believes the laptop repair business will be going on strong.

Bomar is also buoyed to his company’s success in the “huge growth” for laptops in the educational market. More school systems aim to put computers (usually laptops) in the hands of their students and teachers. 

Chamber Opportunities
Bomar remembered the day a couple of years ago when his boss tasked him with growing the Flextronics business in Memphis. He first worried about the job — with his engineering background and operations experience — but took it on as a new challenge.

“We were so closed off within our own four walls at the time,” he said. “I could see there was a big opportunity for us to get networked into the community.”

To find that network, Bomar said he looked to the Greater Memphis Chamber. Since then, he said the company has connected in “meaningful ways” with Memphis orthopedic implant companies like Medtronic, Smith & Nephew, Medtronic and more. 

Also, the Chamber helped Flextronics clean up their neighborhood, quite literally. 

Bomar reached out to Mark Herbison, the Chamber’s senior vice president of economic development. Within a few weeks, the roads around Flextronics were repaved. 

“It’s now a different impression for our customers trying to visit our site, customers that we’re trying to do a contract with,” Bomar said. “That wouldn’t have happened without the Chamber reaching out and having that connection.” 

Herbison said this is just one of many ways the Chamber helps its member businesses.

“Whether a company faces issues with workforce, safety, blight or even just navigating the many public entities, the Chamber is here to do whatever it takes to help businesses grow.”

Written by: Toby Sells
Photo by: Troy Glasgow



Posted: 12/16/2014 7:30:00 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: crossroads, development, economic, fall, flextronics, memphis



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THE M BLOG
The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 (cmeek@memphischamber.com) or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (jfish@memphischamber.com).

 

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