Company Profile: TMA Cables
If you like a good turn-around story, you’ll like this issue’s profile. TMA cables is in Albuquerque, New Mexico and provides contract manufacturing services for cables, wiring harnesses, coaxial assemblies, coil winding and box builds. They also do PCB assemblies including thru-hole technology, and have in-house engineering and design capabilities to support all of it.
It’s probably best to let Kristean Alcocer, one of the principles of the company, tell the story as revealed in a recent interview:
WHN: Tell us about the history of TMA.
Kristean: TMA has a long history here in Albuquerque. It was started by some guys who were working at Los Alamos National Labs. They saw the need for a niche business supplying high-quality wire and cable assemblies here locally. It’s been around since the seventies and has gone through three owners, of which we are the third, but it has always been under New Mexico ownership. Through the history, we’ve been doing a lot of work for Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos, and some of the government agencies that are local.
WHN: Tell is about the new ownership.
Kristean: We bought the company in January of 2017. I’m one of the owners and also the VP of Sales. I’ve got two partners, Gino Sanchez, the President of the company, and Alex Vera, our Project Manager.
WHN: What are your backgrounds?
Kristean: I’ve been part of the local industry as a manufacturers’ rep. My lines included switches, wire and cable, connectors, PC boards and other products in the electronics world. Gino has been building cell phone towers all over the world, but mostly in Central and South America. Alex has been a key part of TMA’s engineering for 12 years.
WHN: What products are your specialties?
Kristean: Throughout the years I’d say the specialty of the company has been coaxial cable assembly manufacturing. Anything that is coaxial, from the RG’s to the LMRs, SMAs – that has really been the strength of the company. We are expanding into other areas, and the company has always made assemblies using ribbon cable and communication cables such as Belden, but the specialty is still coaxial.
WHN: What markets do you serve?
Kristean: Telecommunications, transportation and the military markets are our big focus. We make a lot of cables for Lockheed Martin, Sandia and Los Alamos. We have a number of other small companies in the area who make equipment for aircraft, and we do assemblies for them.
WHN: How do you generally market your company?
Kristean: Government registrations, word-of-mouth and an increased online presence. We are registered in SAM (Federal Award Management Registration) and we have the cage code (Commercial and Government Entity) so the military folks can find us in their database. Still, a lot of it has been word-of-mouth generated from our local customers. We also recently revamped the website, and we definitely have a major online presence. I don’t think the company ever had the presence on the web that we do now. We try to make sure that when somebody searches for cable assemblies in our local area or surrounding states; Colorado, New Mexico, Utah or Texas; that we come up. We make use of AdSense technology for that.
WHN: What makes you folks stand out in your customers’ eyes?
Kristean: We’re fast and we stress quality. I think the military customers really like us because we’re so familiar with their product, and we can make the types of products they need fairly quickly. We can make it right the first time, even if it’s complicated.
Another reason we stand out is we make a lot of assemblies for the technology companies, so we end up having stock of components that tend to have long lead times. We just have them in stock because of our other builds. It’s just another way we can respond really quickly.
WHN: What are some of the things that surprised you coming into this industry?
Kristean: I think one of the things that really surprised me was the need there is domestically for good, quality driven cable assembly harness manufactures. We hear it a lot that there just aren’t enough people out there who can respond as quickly as we do, and that really surprises me. There are some folks who just aren’t going overseas to have their cables manufactured, and I’m always surprised by the lack of suppliers in that arena.
Also, here in Albuquerque, there is just such a strong need for this type of manufacturing. I think we benefit from just having technology companies supplying Kirtland Air Force Base around us. Throughout the years, the company has built a business around the fact that there’s Air Force work being done in the area. The thing about all this that has surprised me, is the high-quality labor that you can find here in Albuquerque. It’s very hard to build these products. There’s a lot of skill involved, and we are so fortunate to have great local talent.
WHN: What quality standards do you adhere to?
Kristean: We have an IPC certification so we adhere to IPC/WHMA A-620, IPC-A-610, and IPC J-STD-001C for assemblies that require soldering. We will likely look at ISO in the future. We would have to hire someone, and maybe 40% of their work would be keeping up with ISO requirements in order for that to happen. We’re just not there right now, and our customer base is really not asking for that…yet.
WHN: Tell us about the buyout.
Kristean: Well, you know, we just had such a good buyout experience. When we made the purchase announcement to the company, we said Greg Pflum will continue to be here, and will be accessible to us as a resource if there’s any project where we need his expertise. For the first three months, we bugged him quite a bit. This was especially true when it came to making sure we had the right contacts at the right companies. He’s still a great friend of ours. I try not to bother him too much anymore because he’s enjoying his retirement.
Greg was holding on for as long as he could because he did not want to let people go. I remember the first week, when we were going through the transition. He looked at me and said, “Man, I wish I would’ve met you five years ago.” I’m still trying to figure out what he meant by that. I think he meant that he really wanted to retire then, and he would have liked to have given us a much bigger business. Back then he had about 20 people working in the company. He just couldn’t find anybody that he connected with who he wanted to sell the business to.
I talk to him every now and again, and he’s pretty excited and proud that we kept the company going, so we have a good relationship with Greg. We are two years into this. We’ve grown about 40%, and this year is looking great. It’s just really cool and we’re just so excited about what’s happening. We’ve got some good people here, and that makes it all worth it.
WHN: Plans for the future?
Kristean: We are about to bring more people on board. We’ve been offered an incentive at the business park where we are currently located. They are offering us additional square footage that will allow us expand and double the amount of space. So that’s the plan by June or July of this year.
WHN: Anything else you’d like to add?
Kristean: I think the one thing that I would like to say is that we are proud to be in New Mexico, and we want to be a New Mexico success story. Instead of this being one more business that just closed because there’s nobody to take over, we were able to jump in, service the customer base, and keep things going. We are ecstatic! It’s now a story about saving New Mexico jobs.
More and more people here locally are seeking us out and asking us to quote their jobs, and it’s not just here in New Mexico. We have customers in Texas, Wisconsin, Colorado, Arizona and California. It’s very exciting. The energy here in the office is really high, and we are very encouraged about the future.