Advantech is in the midst of a big year. Specifically, the developer of intelligent systems and embedded platforms for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, the company recently announced a succession plan for the future and a held a groundbreaking for a new North American headquarters in Tusin, Calif.
Joseph Su, director of business operations at Advantech talked with Control editor-in-chief Len Vermillion about the company’s 40-year history and its future.
Len Vermillion: For people not familiar with Advantech, tell us about the company.
Joseph Su: Advantech is a manufacturer and a global leader in embedded and industrial computers. We have a mission of enabling an intelligent planet. Our products are widely used in IIoT and edge-intelligence applications, and are embedded in equipment or devices as core computing platforms that help improve people's lives. Factory automation, industrial equipment, and medical equipment are our biggest vertical markets, but we’re in others as well, such as network security, smart city infrastructure, transportation, retail and hospitality.
Advantech is a truly global company. We have more than 8,000 employees worldwide. We have a presence in more than 25 countries and more than 100 cities worldwide. In North America, we have more than 500 employees.
Len Vermillion: As mentioned, this is a big year for Advantech. Can you tell us about the 40th anniversary? Are any celebrations planned?
Joseph Su: Advantech was founded in 1983. K.C. Liu is the founder and is still chairman of the company. When he founded Advantech, he said, "Though I can’t win a gold medal for my people in the Olympic Games, I’ll strive instead to serve them by creating a world-class company." That passion has inspired our core competencies, and ultimately achieve the status as a global leader in embedded and industrial computers.
But Advantech isn’t alone on this journey. Our success is supported, not only by our employees, but also by our partners and customers who trust us and grow with us. We're celebrating the 40th anniversary with a series of events, and inviting our employees, partners and customers to participate. We’re holding employee cycling events at our locations in Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul, Munich, Amsterdam, Irvine and Milpitas, Calif., and Cincinnati, Ohio.
In the second half of this year, we’ll host our worldwide partner conference. Many of our global partners and customers will attend, share their industry insights and success stories, and celebrate together.
Len Vermillion: You had a groundbreaking ceremony for a new headquarters in Tustin, Calif. What's the plan for this location?
Joseph Su: We've been searching for a location for our new North America headquarters since 2018, and we finally reached an agreement in Februar and had our groundbreaking event in April. The location is great. It's in Tustin Legacy—a planned community developed on the former Marine Corps Air .Station Tustin—in the heart of Orange County, Calif. We're building our new headquarters on a 10-acre site.
The new headquarters will consist of a six-story office building that's about 110,000 square feet. It will have a state-of-the-art line manufacturing and warehouse facility that's about 70,000 square feet. We expect the construction to start by 4Q23, and we’re targeting a move into this new headquarters by the end of 2025.
Len Vermillion: Why is it important for Advantech to have a new North American headquarters and specifically this one?
Joseph Su: It's one of the most important projects right now for Advantech. Today, our headquarters is in Irvine, Calif., and our major operations facility is in Milpitas, Calif. We've outgrown our office space, and our facility is already running at nearly full capacity. We need this new headquarters for our organic expansion and business growth. The new headquarters will support our growth from $700 million today in North America to more than $1.5 billion per year.
On top of that, this new headquarters will enhance our branding and be a symbol of our people and culture. To be honest, even though we already reached $700 million in annual revenue in North America, in many ways, we still operate or even look like we’re a small company. So, we envision this new headquarters strengthening our presence for our customers, partners and employees. We’ll have an innovation center in this office building, as well as an upgraded showroom. We want our employees to walk into their workplace and feel proud every day.
In addition, we want to build a stronger connection with the local communities and local schools through this new headquarters. Our landlord is the board of the South Orange County Community College District. We’ll establish some academic/industry collaboration and education opportunity programs with the community colleges in this district. We've already been sponsoring some capstone projects with the University of California Irvine, and the University of California San Diego. We want to do more.
Len Vermillion: What does the next 10 years look like for the company?
Joseph Su: We want to keep growing. And I'm not only talking about the business, but also about our organization and people. As I mentioned, we have a mission of enabling an intelligent planet, so we're never going to stop fulfilling that mission. We see ourselves as a solution enabler, instead of just a hardware manufacturer, and a strategic partner to our partners and customers. We realize that a lot of what we do today and what we build has an impact on people's lives, such as medical equipment, smarter transportation, smarter buildings and smarter factories.
We’ll continue to work with our partners and customers on that path. Also, we want to focus on growing our organizations and growing with our people. Advantech is a family. We want to continue to cultivate that culture and our core values, and we'd like our employees to be happy and proud of what we do.