A Word from the Founder

America, in spite of itself, has allowed some of us to do what we wanted to do, even start a nice small manufacturing business. The key word here is “wanted”, because that is the true motivation of all business – to do what it wants to – and it really doesn’t matter what else they claim. The wanting is done by the shareholders, further in the real nature of things. In our case, the shareholders are few, as we bootstrapped over fourty years ago. We like to think that bootstrapping explains the “small”, but it does certainly embrace the “few” as in “shareholders.” And, no, Warren Buffet is not writing this.

What we want to do, back then and now, is use our mechanical engineering training and show off how well we can build machines. We understand that to pay for this privilege, we must find and please customers; but to be brutally honest, that motivation comes in second – close, but still second. We have no such illusions about pleasing the laws of physics: Every time we have placed them as second fiddle, our punishment was immediate and absolute. So, we keep trying to give that up.

A business starts from a central idea – a dream, really. Ours was a control mechanism with a single input for a human to direct microscopic movements intuitively. The immediate justification for this invention was fine wire bonding of transistors, where we could add the caveat that the human be isolated from the task of applying the delicate force required. As these conditions have persisted through the years, so have our efforts been focused, bringing forth new executions of this mechanism, under several patents.

We believe we do this better than others. Perhaps, it’s because we want to.

Passing of the Watch

From dream to dreamless sleep, but first to rest a while. The dream almost seems like it came true. If not, it was close enough. Dreams are not known to be entirely accurate anyway. It is a sufficient gift just to have them. And a great satisfaction to realize one.

We have made some good machines and a few great ones; but if I talked about those I’d brag, so I won’t. We have enjoyed years of interaction with loyal customers. Our employees have stayed with us, many for lifetimes. Our market has wavered, but it hasn’t gone away. And now we are starting to pass West Bond, in stages, to the Next Generation.

My right hand, John Price, is next at the helm, and others will follow. I will stay, on a more flexible schedule but always on call. I plan to work with the NexGen’s to make sure all this happens not just without hitches, but without even half-hitches.

Was that a dream, or what?

Fred Miller
… and the torch was passed on April 21, 2007