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January 26, 2022

Local tech manufacturer expands in Hollister and beyond

Royal Circuit Solutions recently acquired Santa Ana-based South Coast Circuits

The seemingly non-stop growth of the international high tech industry has been a boon for Hollister-based Royal Circuit Solutions, which is on a “hiring spree” after merging with a southern California company in an ongoing effort to expand the local manufacturer’s printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication services.

Royal Circuit Solutions, whose headquarters is located on Hamilton Court, announced on Aug. 3 that it has acquired Santa Ana-based South Coast Circuits. It is the second acquisition that Royal Circuit Solutions has completed in recent years, and the company is even getting ready to open a new 5,000-square-foot factory floor expansion in Hollister in September.

“This is a very exciting transaction that will create an even larger, more dominant PCB manufacturing group,” Milan Shah, CEO of Royal Circuit Solutions, said in a statement. “It is a landmark deal for the PCB industry and another step forward in Royal Circuits’ mission to help design engineers bring new product designs to market as quickly as possible.”

Many consumers may not think much about PCBs, let alone how or where they are manufactured. But they are essential to the operation of electronic devices and components and are found in all kinds of everyday products. Shah said the PCBs produced by Royal Circuit Solutions—which was founded in Hollister in 1998—often end up in medical devices, autonomous vehicles, drones and other computerized applications.

The printed circuit boards manufactured at Royal Circuit Solutions are found in a wide variety of electronic devices, machines, computers and other products. Photo: Juan Reyes

The industry has skyrocketed in volume and technological sophistication as the world has become more automated and digitized. Shah said Royal Circuit Solutions has grown right alongside the industry itself. The expanded Hollister facility will allow Royal Circuit to add space for more state-of-the-art drilling and fabrication machines.

“The technology is moving at such a rapid pace that we’re constantly buying new technology and equipment,” Shah said. “That forces us to keep pace with the technology, and the expansion is to accommodate the new technology.”

The factory expansion will be as advanced as any PCB manufacturing facility found anywhere in the world, Shah said.

The recent merger involved South Coast Circuits and Royal Flex Circuits, which is a subsidiary of Royal Circuit Solutions.

Under the terms of the acquisition, South Coast Circuits, which was founded in 1982, will continue operating its Santa Ana PCB manufacturing facility without any interruption. Royal Flex Circuits President Victor Hemingway will become president of South Coast Circuits.

Specifically, South Coast Circuits fabricates rigid and flex rigid PCBs for customers in the computer, communications, aerospace, medical and consumer electronics industries.

“The alignment in company values and culture between the companies made this a great opportunity for our employees and customers,” said Chuck Benson, former President of South Coast Circuits. “Together, South Coast Circuits and Royal Circuit Solutions will be able to achieve rapid expansion while delivering the quality, speed and service that our customers have come to rely on.”

South Coast Circuits currently employs about 50 people, and Royal Circuit Solutions employs just over 100. The company does not expect those numbers to change any time soon, and the Hollister workforce is likely to increase in the coming months, Shah noted.

Royal Circuit Solutions focuses on “quick-turn, prototype” PCB manufacturing, specializing in next-day turnarounds as well as complex flex and rigid flex boards with 40-plus layers and more than 1,000 pieces.

Shah, who is a co-founder of Royal Circuit Solutions, speaks proudly about the company’s contribution to the community and tax base of San Benito County, which he thinks of as an extension of Silicon Valley. Royal Circuit has grown from 13 employees since it was founded, and Shah put a lot of work and financial investment into keeping the company alive during the downturn that followed the 2008 recession.

Now, employees at Royal Circuit Solutions are thriving and buying homes in the region, Shah said.

“The thing we want the community to be proud of is, high tech is in Hollister,” Shah said.

Construction is mostly complete on the 5,000-square-foot factory floor expansion at Royal Circuit Solutions, pictured Aug. 5. Photo: Juan Reyes

The company’s success represents a turnaround of sorts in the U.S. electronics manufacturing industry. PCB manufacturing has largely been offshored to China and other lower-cost countries in recent decades. In the early 1990s, there were more than 1,800 PCB manufacturers in the U.S. Now there are just over 500, according to pcbdirectory.com.

Shah noted that some manufacturers that moved offshore years ago are now returning their operations to the U.S.

He added that City of Hollister officials have been “incredibly supportive” not only during the planning and permitting for the recent expansion, but also dating back to Royal Circuit’s early days.

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