Adventec Manufacturing Inc.
In Dundas, Ontario, Adventec Manufacturing Inc. is doing its part to bring manufacturing back home to North America through expert engineering problem-solving in challenging electrical applications. Adventec works with multinational tier-one automotive customers and others across the mining, telecommunications, agricultural and electric vehicle (EV) battery industries to design, develop and manufacture advanced electrical components and sub-assemblies.
Adventec currently ships to global customers in the United States, Europe, China and Mexico, and is adept at providing a full suite of design and development services. The company supports customers from concept through design development, prototyping and scaling up for high-volume production on a range of technologies including impact extrusion, CNC Swiss machining, injection molding, insert molding, precision stamping, electro mechanical assembly and plastic and metal joining technologies. Adventec provides customers with a single point of contact for their most challenging application requirements.
“Our customers reach out to us with a concept and we partner with their design team to refine it in order to make the parts as cost effective and reliable as possible, and we design, engineer and manufacture under one roof,” says Jim Campbell, president and CEO of Adventec. “Today, we’re fortunate that a lot of our business comes from word-of-mouth. The automotive industry is a particularly connected industry. Purchasing people and engineers talk and business grows organically when you do a good job. As a result, we’ve built a reputation as a go-to supplier for challenging technical problems requiring ingenuity and creativity to solve.”
Building on a strong background
Campbell founded Adventec in 2000, but spent many years prior in related industries, learning tricks of the trade and building important contacts. “My background spans 30 years in the automotive electrical sector with the early part of my career spent with TRW,” shares Campbell. “In the early ‘80s, the northeastern U.S. and Ontario was the hub of the automotive industry and I worked in the TRW transportation electronics business unit.”
With sharp technical skills and a constant desire to innovate, one of Campbell’s first accomplishments was the invention of an automated means of adjustment for relays in 1985. “My career really took off after this and I enjoyed 12 fantastic years with TRW, but then with NAFTA, a lot of manufacturing began to get outsourced to Mexico as the multinationals pulled out in pursuit of lower wages elsewhere,” he recounts.
“When the TRW plant I managed closed in 1993, I made a decision that I didn’t want to uproot my family and I found another opportunity, leading the North American business launch for a French multinational automotive connector firm called FCI,” says Campbell. “I stayed with them for about two years before deciding the corporate world wasn’t my cup of tea. I needed to follow my entrepreneurial aspirations and desire to innovate and drive change at a much faster pace.”
Campbell then assumed a role with Polymer Technologies through the late ‘90s, leading the growth and development of that firm from $10 million to $30 million in just over three years. “Polymer was an important steppingstone in allowing me to build industry contacts, but I was frustrated by ownership interference and so it was time to go,” he says.
In 2000, Campbell decided to make a go on his own and he founded Adventec with two key men, building on a core technical competency in insert molding. “Insert molding involves the integration of metal stamping, automation and injection molding to produce small, high-precision, high-volume electrical components used in switches, connectors and sensors,” explains Campbell.
A single customer to start and early growth hurdles
Adventec’s first substantial customer was Omron, a Japanese manufacturer of automation controls medical equipment, automotive electronics and more. “We served as a JIT [just in time] supplier to Omron and we quickly established ourselves as a go-to supplier for their more technically advanced applications,” says Campbell.
Shortly after inception, in 2002, Adventec secured a contract with a second customer to manufacture a range of components and sub-assemblies used inside large lithium batteries used for electric vehicles. “We started to supply anode and cathode connections leveraging our expertise in ultrasonic welding to attach a high-flex copper wire to foil and we’re still in this business today,” notes Campbell.
Campbell admits in the beginning, most multinational customers were hesitant to work with Adventec given the company’s location in Canada. “No one wanted a Canadian supplier who would have to ship every part 2,000 miles to the assembly facility,” he explains. “Even with our bright and innovative team and industry track record, no one wanted to talk to us.”
Campbell recognized that a fundamental change to Adventec’s business model was necessary to accelerate growth and expand its customer base. “We started approaching customers and rather than presenting them with a fixed product offering, we asked if they had any difficult applications for which they were struggling to find a supplier for,” he says.
The go-to problem solver for engineering challenges
This led to an opportunity with Valeo, a large European auto parts and systems manufacturer supplying among other things, advanced sensing and detection systems, which included ultrasonic park assist sensors. “In an ultrasonic sensor there is an aluminum membrane that must be tuned to a specific frequency comprising the heart of the device,” explains Campbell. “Valeo came to us and invited us to figure out how to manufacture these membranes. They said, ‘If you can figure out how produce these parts in high volumes, we’ll give you a contract to produce them for North America.’” The team at Adventec delivered a fast, reliable solution and landed the contract with Valeo, bolstering its reputation in the industry.
“This set us down the path of becoming the engineering problem-solving firm we are today,” says Campbell. “We’ve earned a reputation for being able to handle tough applications. When there’s a unique challenge, customers say, ‘let’s call Adventec.’”
Adventec’s relationship and involvement with Valeo has grown from one business unit to more than four worldwide. “We’re now working with Valeo on ultrasonic sensors, controls for wind shield wipers and we’re also producing sophisticated sub-assemblies targeted for use in inverters for hybrid vehicles — converting DC current to AC current for electric vehicle motors.”
Today, Adventec works with many large, multinational companies in design and development of new systems and technologies. “We’re undertaking to expand our presence in lithium batteries targeted for electric vehicles,” says Campbell. “We’re currently supplying anode and cathode interconnects as well as a range of safety systems for an electric vehicle manufacturer in Europe.”
Adventec’s business has expanded beyond a purely automotive focus to include applications for agricultural equipment controls. “We’re currently manufacturing a control module that raises and lowers power attachments on tractors and with this same technology, we’re also working on joystick controls for large excavators and earthmoving equipment,” says Campbell.
It is this diversity, coupled with the fantastic creativity and ingenuity of a talented team that will carry Adventec Manufacturing Inc. into the future and strengthen the firm’s deep relationships and strong reputation as an engineering problem solver.