Count us in

Count us inForged from philips and backed by venture capital firm Compass, BC Components has powered into the passive component market at number eight. Mick Elliott met company MD Andrew Plaistow
BC Components. If you know who they are, go to the top of the class. If the name rings a bell but no more, you are par for the course.
If you have never heard of them you may do soon, especially if you are a buyer of passive components.
The company was founded late last year spinning out from the former Philips Passive Components business. The new business includes Beyschlag of Germany and Centralab of Hong Kong, hence the name BC.
The deal was backed by venture capital firm Compass under a new management team is headed by Gerrit van Grol who was formerly managing director of Philips Passive Components.
“He saw a real opportunity for BCComponents,” observes Andrew Plaistow, managing director of BCComponents UK. “We are instantly number eight in the world passive components market and number three in film capacitors.”
The product range comprises electrolytic, film, ceramic and variable capacitors as well as variable, fixed linear and non-linear resistors. Plaistow also claims a string of European number one slots in the supply of aluminium and film capacitors and focus potentiometers in CRT applications.
Plaistow is quick to disabuse the notion that Philips was unloading a loss-making business. “We are profitable, as is the passive component business which has remained in Philips,” he remarks. “They have decided to focus on their core ceramic technology in digital applications.”
The move out of Philips will not happen overnight, as Plaistow explains. BC has the right to use the Philips brand name until the middle of next year which means markings and packaging on components will not change initially. “We will look to disengage over the next 12 to 18 months,”he says. “We are already developing our own IT infrastructure.”
Part numbers will also need to be changed, and Plaistow and his 16-strong UK team will move out of Philips Components base in Dorking, Surrey by the end of this year. If this seems a less than committed independence, Plaistow makes two points.
“First, the disruption to existing customers must be minimal and everything in the new business is now owned by BCComponents – the lot,” he emphasises. “The manufacturing facilities, R&D facilities, the sales teams, everything.”
The research and development operations will remain in the existing product divisions. They will work on filling gaps in the BCComponents product line, though Plaistow does not rule out some in filling through acquisition.
Investment is also being tagged for the manufacturing operations. “We are spending money now to be come self-sufficient in producing foil product for our aluminium capacitor range.”
Plaistow’s task is to establish the BC name in the UK. “The BC Components product range represented 76 per cent of UK sales in the old Philips Components company,” he reveals.
“We now have a leaner management team with the ability to be more proactive and we can now focus on the total market for passive components,” he argues.
New customers and new markets are the first target. “Consumer electronics has always been an important market, but the old philosophy was concentrated on the Philips consumer arm requirements and keeping them happy.”
“As BCComponents we have the freedom to go to the other major consumer electronics companies like Matsushita and Sony and develop new products,” he points out.
The strength in the industrial marketswill be developed, especially lighting products – “No Philips Lighting is not our biggest customer in this sector,” says Plaistow, scotching the obvious question..
The growing automotive market also has potential, thinks Plaistow.
Is the company big enough to compete with the heavy hitters in the passive components market?
“Emphatically yes,” responds Plaistow. “We have a broad product range, lots of mature technologies to support the products and the ability to expand our product portfolio.”
Investment is available, and some of that is earmarked for the important task of establishing the BCComponents brand. “It’s the question that keeps cropping up,” Plaistow concedes. “How do we progress without the Philips name?”
Plaistow makes the initial observation that the change in management style and philosophy will tell customers they are dealing with a different company.
A marketing blitz will be unleashed and BC’s distribution network will also be enrolled into the brand establishment team. “Distribution is already a high percentage of our business and that will continue,” says Plaistow.
He is a keen supporter of the channel and a strong advocate of technical support for passive components revealing that, at a previous company he funded engineering support for our products within a distributor.
There will be some consolidation within what was the Philips passive component distribution network and the separate channels established byBeyschlag. “We have to be in a position where Beyschlag’s resistive products can open doors within a distributor for the rest of BC’s range,” he says.
Support will come from within Plaistow’s 18-strong UK team whose experience ranges from two to 28 years.
EDI links have been installed to ensure distributors can access stock levels and turn round quotes faster.
Plaistow is under no illusions as to his task, yet he is already encouraged. “We have talked to 95 per cent of our OEMcustomers and they are all receptive to BCComponents.”

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