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Posted on 17 July 2019

Interview about Power Supply Technology with Matt McKenzie, President of CUI Inc

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By Bodo Arlt, Editor BPS

 

Bodo Arlt: How did CUI start and what was the vision?

Matt McKenzie: CUI was started by my father, Jim McKenzie, in 1989. It was originally started as a joint venture with a Japanese firm called Stack Electronics. Stack is a manufacturer of high end probes for the oscilloscope industry. CUI was created to serve as an outlet for these products in the U.S. Our customers, who loved how we did business, asked us to become their supplier for other components. So we took on the task, developed our engineering presence, added strategic manufacturing relationships in Asia and started to make our move.

Bodo Arlt: What future end markets will drive CUI for technology development?

Matt McKenzie: CUI has made a big investment into digital power. We see this market (still in its infancy) as a significant opportunity for our growth in the future. As we target tier 2’s and below with a module solution, we believe that this will drive the platform switch to digital faster than a tier 1. In turn we are developing a product roadmap that will keep us on the front edge of this technology. There is also the big buzz around green initiatives. CUI sees that the solid state lighting market is probably the biggest area for us to make a move in offering a green power supply solution to a market that is being driven by the switch to a more efficient lighting solution. Our market studies show that this area will have almost exponential compound growth over the next few years as suppliers work towards product definition and solid supply chain stability. Along with the green push, CUI has always made it a priority to stay on the leading edge of the governmental requirements for external adapters. We are always working to provide the highest level of energy efficient compliant products to the marketplace.

Bodo Arlt: What are the technologies that CUI can offer for innovation leadership?

Matt McKenzie: As I stated before, we are making a strong push into digital power. We believe we will offer the best solution for a digital point-of-load module on the market. We have partnered with Powervation and believe that their IC has the best feature-set that will allow the most broadly based adaptation of the technology. We are also working on some IP development that will potentially allow us to have massive efficiency gains in many platforms. We believe that we will need to drive an entire portfolio of products that offer an efficiency gain on a full scale platform level, from the wall to the IC.

Bodo Arlt: What makes CUI different from other Power Supply manufactures?

Matt McKenzie: Outside of our broad and unique product offering, the difference is relationship. We work to create partners instead of just transactional interactions. Our goal is to work with companies that will become long-term partners to solve problems together for many years.

Bodo Arlt: Can you tell us about the range of your technology and some of its features?

Matt McKenzie: CUI offers a large range of power supply products. Our goal is to be able to offer a solution from the wall to the IC. We have everything from 2.5 kW industrial AC-DC power supplies to 1 W non isolated DC-DC converters. We also offer a great range of industrial DC-DC converters that were developed for rugged environments.

Bodo Arlt: How much is CUI involved in the end customer’s applications?

Matt McKenzie: That depends on the customer and the technology. Some demand a higher level of integration between us and the customer. For instance, a digital and platform level solution would require a large amount of support both from an executive level, to sell the value of the platform, as well as engineering support needed to train and implement a switch of that magnitude. A customer looking for a cost down on a 5 W power supply will usually just send a purchaser to our company and we will look to create value on price and delivery.

Bodo Arlt: How much is CUI involved in commodity applications using the advantage of your expertise and technology to support low cost volume products?

Matt McKenzie: Standard wall plug and desktop power supplies represent a significant percentage of our annual sales. In this market we are most competitive and offer the best value to the smaller OEM’s. Usually, there is a lot of commodity pull through business as well in this world. We have a lot of “total solution” business where we start with the power supply and follow with the mating connectors or other board level components.

Bodo Arlt: What do you see as your core competencies?

Matt McKenzie: Again, we are a truly relational company. So many times in our industry the relationships are mostly transactional. We seek to change this with support, respect, and a different take on how people and partners should be valued on a day to day basis. Our other core competency is flexibility. We can move quickly, and adapt to customer needs. In addition, we are transitioning our company immensely as our goal is to be an industry leader in technology and engineering support.

Bodo Arlt: Who are your competitors you believe will stimulate the race for leadership?

Matt McKenzie: That depends on the type of product as we are pretty diversified in our product offering. We believe strongly that, in power, the move to digital will be significant. This is why we have decided to make a move to be a module supplier. I believe that the competition will be healthy for the market. This is exactly what has been missing from the market in order to drive digital as a platform in power. Texas Instruments, Ericsson, Power-One, and the like are going to drive us to become a stronger company.

Bodo Arlt: How was the name CUI selected?

Matt McKenzie: Originally our company was named Components Unlimited Inc. Our customers started to abbreviate it. It caught on, so we branded it. Over time, it has become a solid brand.

Bodo Arlt: Thank you Mr. McKenzie for the time. We look forward to a successful future for the technology innovations at CUI.

 

Matt McKenzie Biography

Matt McKenzie

Matt McKenzie is President of CUI Inc. Prior to serving as President he managed CUI’s VInfinity power product line. He holds an MBA from George Fox University, Portland, Ore.

 

 

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