Good Connections: A Career in Interconnects
A series of good connections led me into the connector industry. As I look back on four decades in electronics, I look back at what makes it a great career: the people.
My life in electronics began in marketing at a Midwestern phone company. A good connection led me next to a jack-of-all-trades role at a growing local electronics distributor where I worked in shipping, accounting, and sales, and eventually became the manager. We built Northern Electronics until it was bought by Chicago electronics distributor Classic Components. That was my first lesson in acquisitions — a phenomenon I have watched unfold at many connector companies since. One night, I was out for drinks with a few electronics reps, and someone said, “You know what we need? A regional publication where we can reach our customers with our products.” That was the beginning of The Inside Line, a multi-component-focused print publication I helped create for the electronics industry. Connectors were part of the mix.
One day in 1997, I got a call from connector industry guru Ron Bishop, who ran a market research firm focused on connectors, Bishop & Associates. He shot off so many questions about my business that I got off the phone feeling dazed! What details had I unwittingly shared? Why the heck had he called me? It would be a few years before the purpose of this connection revealed itself, but it was the beginning of a rewarding business relationship, and a wonderful and valued friendship.
In 2001, I joined Ron to launch a new publication focused on connectors. Our goal was to match up manufacturers in need of connectors with the best connector suppliers in the industry. You could rely on Connector Supplier to provide the latest product and connector technology updates as well as personnel movement within the industry — a place to meet and get to know one another.
Over the years, I have met so many wonderful people in this industry. At events like DesignCon, EDS, and electronica, I got to know the leaders, product specialists, engineers, and marketing experts who made my work not just interesting but fun. When I started, the industry was excited about USB 1 connectors, internet speeds were measured in kb/s, and I carried a BlackBerry. I showed up at those early industry events in painful high heels with Sydele from Standard Power, and we were two of the few women in attendance. We called ourselves YEPPERs: Young electronic professionals seeking early retirement. Today, I charge my iPhone with a USB Type-C. I long ago switched to comfortable shoes for those big shows and I’m happy to have seen the industry gradually expand to include more women. I’m proud to see how far our industry has come, not just in technology, but as people. And just like that, 20 years flew by.
I have loved my 41 years in the industry. There’s something special about electronics — people just don’t seem to leave it. I’ve noticed leaders at many companies stay in the game well into their retirement years. Ron Bishop, as well as the market leaders at Bishop & Associates, such as retired engineer and regular contributor Bob Hult, continue to keep a close eye on connector companies and electronic technologies. But, like many people, I’ve changed my plans during this pandemic. As I retire and John Bishop takes the ball, my only regret is that the pandemic has kept me from saying goodbye in person.
The good news? I’m excited about the future of Connector Supplier because as I have watched John get to know wonderful people in the connector world, I’ve seen that he knows how to connect. He’s creatively and earnestly picked up my role and he knows what ideas will work for the future — ideas that will keep Connector Supplier relevant and vital as the technologies it covers evolve. I know I’m leaving things in good hands.
This year, I’m looking forward to expanding my monthly music adventures in Nashville, trying out new recipes from my cookbook collection (1,000 volumes and counting), enjoying new and safe travel experiences, and being Grammy. I’m even writing a bit. I’ll still be watching the connector industry — now as a reader.
May 2022 be a good one for us all. Thank you for all the good connections.