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Stock price up 65% as of Dec. 14, while Taiwanese market rose 11%
Diversified base by shifting manufacturing to China and expanding into new, higher-margin products
PHOTO BY DAVID HARTUNG/LIAISON/NEWSMAKER/ONLINEUSA
You want to rile Barry Lam, the founder and chairman of Taiwanese notebook PC producer Quanta Computer? Call his company a contract manufacturer. The tag might seem apt. Like rivals Solectron Corp. (SLR
) and Celestica Inc. (CLS
), Quanta produces gear for some of the biggest names in the tech universe, including Dell (DELL
). But Quanta is also now the world's biggest producer of notebooks because, Lam says, of its expertise in design and supply-chain management. In his view, that puts Quanta in a different league than, say, Solectron. "They are contract manufacturers," he sniffs. "We are flexible manufacturers."
Lam, 52, has reason to be cocky. While 2001 was a year to forget for almost everybody in the PC world, it was terrific for his 13-year-old company. Sales will likely hit $3.6 billion, up 50% from 2000, with earnings up 25% to $310 million. And, while some analysts doubt Quanta can maintain its torrid pace, Lam predicts sales will hit $5 billion in 2002 and $10 billion by 2004.
Lam is now diversifying into servers, storage, and liquid-crystal display terminals. He's also shifting production to China, where he expects to slash costs by 10%. His next dream: to open an art museum. But the former pocket-calculator salesman admits that he remains a "product guy" at heart. And he bets that diversification and innovation will keep this flexible manufacturer flush for years to come.