Incorporated: 1966 as Hadco Printed Circuits, Inc.
Sales: $648.7 million (1997)
Stock Exchanges: NASDAQ
Ticker Symbol: HDCO
SICs: 3672 Printed Circuit Boards; 3679 Electronic Components, Not Elsewhere Classified; 3678 Electronic Connectors
For over two decades, Hadco Corporation has been a leader in the development and manufacture of electronic packaging solutions. With the acquisition of Santa Clara, California-based competitor Zycon in 1996, with major customers such as Solectron, Cabletron, Sun Microsystems, Northern Telecom, AT&T Technologies, Intel, and Compaq, and with mounting sales, Hadco has become the largest manufacturer of high-density double-sided and complex multilayer printed circuits and back-plate assemblies for the telecommunications, computer, and industrial automation industries in North America among the approximately 700 independent printed circuit board manufacturers in the United States alone, outselling such competitors as Altron, Elexsys International, Merix, and Sanmina.
The company got its start in Massachusetts in 1966 as Hadco Printed Circuits, Inc. Founder Harold Irvine named the company Hadco after himself and two other partners, using the initial of each of their first names for “Had,” with the “co” standing for “Company.” They began by manufacturing traditional single-sided printed circuits.
Growth Since the 1980s
The company operated under the original moniker until 1982, when it changed its name to Hadco Corporation. That same year, the company acquired Lamination Technology, Inc. (LTI), a manufacturer of printed circuit materials, and Systems Corp. In 1983, Circuit Image Industries, Inc. (Hudson, New Hampshire), an inner layer PCB manufacturer, was obtained. Another inner layer facility was built at Owego in 1991.
In 1985, the Lamination Technology division was sold, but the company picked up a 49 percent interest in SA Comelim, paying just over $2.5 million. Two years later saw the formation of Hadco Limited as a wholly owned subsidiary. During that year, the company also built a plant in Ireland in order to better service its customers in the European market.
A hazardous waste spill at the company’s New Hampshire facility ended up in city storm drains and earned Hadco a lawsuit which was settled in 1994 for $157,000. In the early 1990s, many of Hadco’s competitors ramped up their value-added manufacturing capabilities. Hadco did not follow suit for several years. When Andrew E. Lietz, COO, was promoted to president and CEO of the company in 1995, replacing the retiring Patrick Sweeney, the company began selling off some of its backlog, accomplished quick turnaround of its product, and began meeting the demand for time-to-volume requirements of its customers.
In late 1996, the company acquired competitor Zycon Corporation for $205 million. Zycon had previously been negotiating with a Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst affiliate for a $180 million buyout. With the purchase of Zycon, Hadco became the largest manufacturer of advanced electronic interconnect products in North America, with nine facilities. The tenth facility, a state-of-the-art offshore manufacturing plant in Kuching, the state capital of Sarawak, Malaysia, was acquired as part of Zycon and made Hadco the first American offshore multilayer printed circuit board manufacturer. In company materials, Lietz said,“Overall, the integration of Hadco and Zycon and the joint efforts of the employees of the company have led to record financial results.”
Hadco has been a leader in the development of new technologies in the electronics industry. The company has a two-pronged approach to this development, something called “Evolution and Revolution in Increasing Board Density.” Hadco defines “Evolution” as “the ongoing, continuous process of enhancing current technologies by increasing board densities while lowering overall costs.” These changes have successfully brought Hadco finer line and space geometries into volume production than were imaginable just a few years ago.
“Revolution” is defined as “looking at PCB and interconnect issues from new, creative and sometimes radical technological perspectives. Revolutionary change means bringing entirely new processes, materials and technologies to the table.” Because Hadco anticipates that standard component I/O requirements should be above 800 by the year 2000, with line and space geometries ranging to .0027.002, it is exploring revolutionary methods of meeting these future needs, actively investigating alternative interconnect strategies and forming partnerships with companies that bring new and creative processes, materials, and ways of thinking to the table, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Aesop, and Cosen. Some of the specific revolutionary technologies that Hadco continued to explore during the 1990s included photo-defined vias, conductive inks, conductive adhesives, and alternative surface finishes (including organic coatings, nickel, gold, and palladium).
One of the technologies created by Hadco is called Buried Capacitance, or BC. This technology utilizes ZBC-2000 Laminate (originally developed and patented by Zycon) and is a board manufacturing technique in which distributed decoupling capacitance is achieved by embedding thin dielectric layers within the board. This technique allows for the removal of discrete decoupling capacitors, clearing board space and enabling designers to design boards that have greater functionality and/or reduced overall size. This new technology was the winner of Surface Mount Technology magazine’s 1992 Vision Award and the 1993 Milton S. Kiver Grand Award for Excellence in Electronic Packaging and Production. EmCap was developed in 1997 and was the next generation of Buried Capacitance. EmCap, which combines ferro-electric material and epoxy to make a pliable pw-board laminate, is projected to have five times the capacitance value of ZBC-2000, allowing the removal of even more surface discrete capacitors. A similar technology developed by Hadco allows for the removal of surface resistors as well as capacitors.
During 1996 and 1997 Hadco introduced another new technology: a resistive, conductive ink, called ResistAIR. This ink can be screened onto a core material, replacing the traditional metal circuit paths. Also associated with ResistAIR are Embedded Capacitance and Embedded Resistance. Hadco removed discrete resistors and capacitors from the surface of printed circuit boards and embedded them inside a multilayer printed circuit. This process made room for more active components, allowing an overall reduction in size and an improvement in electrical performance. It also eliminated placement, soldering, inspection and testing associated with surface components.
President and CEO Lietz stated that Hadco’s objective “is to take a leadership position in the world interconnect market.” As the demand for more complex, higher layer count circuit boards and backplates continued to rise, and as the company continued to upgrade and expand its facilities, Hadco appeared in a very good position to fulfill that objective. In a mid-1998 press release, Lietz reiterated: “We already have the best people, equipment and technology in our industry and I am confident that we will execute our strategy to ensure our long-term success.”
HADCO Corporation is one of the world’s largest developers and suppliers of advanced electronic interconnect solutions. We serve OEM’s and contract manufacturers in the computing, data communications, telecommunications, and industrial automation markets across the globe.
Our wide range of products and services provide an integrated solution to the electronic industry’s accelerating technology and time-to-market requirements.
HADCO offers extensive circuit design and engineering services, dedicated quick-turn, prototype and development fabrication, complex advanced technology volume production, and complete backplane assembly devices.
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Guinther, Fred, “Zycon Sold—Twice in One Week,” Electronic News, December 9, 1996, p. 1.
“Hadco Agrees to Deal for Rival Maker of Circuit Boards,” New York Times, December 6, 1996, p. C3(N)/D3(L).
“Hadco Corp.,” CDA- Investnet Insiders’ Chronicle, April 22, 1996, p. 3.
“Hadco Corp.—Company Report,” Moody’s Investor Service, March 26, 1997.
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“Hadco Corporation Organizational Announcement,” Salem, N.H.: Hadco Corporation, May 20, 1998.
“Hadco Corporation Reports Second Quarter Results,” PR Newswire, May 8, 1997, p. 508NETH036.
“Hadco Displaces Hicks Muse in Pact to Acquire Zycon,” Wall Street Journal, December 6, 1996, p. B2(W)/B5(E).
“Orbotech Wins Major Orders from Hadco,” Israel Business Today, November 20, 1996, p. 23.
“Subsidiary’s Tender Offer for Zycon Is Completed,” Wall Street Journal, January 13, 1997, p. B7(W)/B6(E).
Wood, Craig H., Allen Kaufman, and Michael Merenda, “How Hadco Became a Problem-Solving Supplier,” Sloan Management Review, Winter 1996, p. 77.
“Zycon Corp.—Company Report,” Moody’s Investor Service, January 10, 1997.
“Zycon Corp.—Company Report,” Prudential Securities Inc., January 10, 1996.
—Daryl F. Mallett