Jim Young: Sourcing for a Startup

Jim Young: Sourcing for a Startup

Jim Young is senior supply chain manager at Applied Microstructures, Inc. in San Jose, Calif. He has held this position since 2011.

Responsibilities: All supply chain activities required to support product development, configuration, and production, as well as shipment of products to customers.

Experience: Variety of positions in materials and manufacturing support; materials planning and execution manager (Centura Etch); senior material manager (Oxide Etch), Applied Materials Inc.; senior content strategist/marketing agent, Youngraw Entertainment; senior program manager (applied strategic knowledge solutions), senior materials manager (CPI), senior strategic program manager (applied global services), Applied Materials Inc.; senior commodity manager—front end material support, Solyndra.

Education: BA, television, radio, and film, San Jose State University, 1981; MBA, Santa Clara University, 2000.

During my time as a student at San Jose State, I did an internship making technical training videos for Applied Materials, an equipment, services, and software supplier for the global semiconductor, flat panel display, and solar photovoltaic industries. After graduating with a radio, television, and film major, I went to Los Angeles to look for work in the entertainment industry. But jobs were hard to come by in those days. So when I ran into someone I knew from Applied Materials, and he offered me a job in the stockroom, I grabbed it.

I learned how to locate and pick parts, and use the company’s order fulfillment system. After one year, I moved up to a job as a materials planner. I stayed with Applied Materials for 25 years.

Since 2011, I’ve worked for a startup, Applied Microstructures, which designs and manufactures equipment that produces ultra-thin films for a variety of applications. For instance, pharmaceutical companies use them to put coatings on pills. We sell our technology to customers all over the world.

As senior supply chain manager, I’m responsible for everything from sourcing materials and services to shipping finished products. I oversee a logistics manager who runs the stockroom, and a manufacturing engineer who works with the product development team.

Most of the suppliers we work with are located close to our facility. That way, we can quickly solve any problems that may arise. The major exception is our chemical suppliers, which can be located anywhere. We don’t have a license to ship chemicals, so the suppliers ship products directly to our customers.

On the outbound side, we move systems and spare parts via our customers’ carriers. I work with those customers and their logistics partners to understand the markets we’re serving and set up the transportation lanes.

The biggest challenge I face is sourcing for a small startup. My previous employer, Applied Materials, is a Fortune 500 firm. If we signed a $5-million agreement with a precision machine shop, that was a small contract. Here, my annual spend for precision machining is far less than $900,000.

This means we have to work with smaller suppliers. Unfortunately, they don’t always have the systems in place to deliver the quality we require. To get that quality, I have to spend a lot of time helping those shops enable their capabilities. I serve as an unofficial consultant, recommending strategies they can use to better manage their operations.

One of the biggest moves we made here in 2014 was to implement Expandable, an enterprise resource planning system designed for small manufacturers. This year, we’ll use that system to make some important enhancements to our operation. For example, we will introduce scorecards to guide execution and get a better view of inventory. Our ultimate goal is to create a world-class supply chain operation.

The Big Questions

How do you like to spend time when you’re not working?

I mentor youth in my community. I used to coach basketball, but I can’t do it as much as I’d like. I enjoy photography, and I do DJ mixing and video editing.

Do you have a hidden talent?

I used to run an entertainment business, promoting R&B, hip hop, and rap artists. My work resulted in about 50 gold and platinum awards from the Recording Industry Association of America.

What achievement in your career are you most proud of?

I was the lead on the engineering team that helped implement the Oracle enterprise resource planning system at Applied Materials. That was a huge, difficult project. It taught me a lot about change management.

If you could attend any event in the world, what would it be?

The Kentucky Derby and Indianapolis 500 are both on my bucket list.

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