An Interview with Onanon CEO Dennis Johnson

Onanon was founded to fill a void in the electromechanical industry, according to Dennis Johnson. “It seemed to be a Blue Ocean. No one else was doing what we wanted to do.” The company started its life printing circuit boards and providing CNC Routing, CNC Drilling and CNC Scoring. Operations soon expanded into insulators for connectors. As Johnson puts it, “[The] Core customer base became connector companies, so naturally we came up with a better solution for automating fabrication, adding pins and producing the completed connector package.”

The company is vertically integrated, so using printed circuit boards as platforms was the next logical step. Onanon engineers found ways to add value with PCB pick and place machines, over molding, various speed scoring services and the company now serves multiple industries. Today, Onanon is one of North America’s largest connector and cable assembly manufacturers. Here are some thoughts from the CEO of Onanon, Dennis Johnson.

Breadboard manufacturing is a fascinating field. What developments has Onanon helped to pioneer?

Our engineers can automate the whole process, which eliminates human handling. Automation also increases production numbers. We can produce thousands of units in a single session, which definitely keeps us safely in the GCP or “Globally Competitive Powerhouse” category.

Onanon recently expanded its facilities, please tell us about that.

To better service our expanding product lines and automation we moved into a larger facility in Milpitas. The facility now accommodates auto cable assemblies and auto connector manufacturing. We can also take care of overmolding in-house now.

Walk us through what Onanon does when the company visits a trade show.

Onanon works with a few partners, so we like to showcase our custom designs. Many companies in our space aren’t looking for the kind of connection you’d find at your local electronics store, they typically have highly specialized needs. When meeting face-to-face with potential customers, we find it best to display our custom products. Two examples we commonly use come from Johnson and Johnson, as well as Boston Scientific Medtronic, although we feature others too.

Explain some of the advantages that embedded electronics allow for.

Embedding electronics into connectors allows for personality keys, such as resistors, to prevent physicians from making mistakes. We can add Eproms to track diagnostics, RFID for Lot traceability, or RGB LED’s for intuitive visual confirmation that the cable and connector are working correctly. Also great for Scalability so we can scale the design allowing us to do more on a smaller space.

What are some of the partners that work with Onanon, and what kinds of connectors do you build for them?

Well for Johnson and Johnson we redesigned there arthroscopic surgical generation 11 connector system. For John Deere we have redesigned headers and integrated custom connectors electronics into the plated header connector system.

What does the future look like for Onanon?

Onanon splits its business between medical and industrial, so the company is focused on brainstorming customized solutions that meet the demands of these markets. Healthcare in particular can be quite demanding.

We’ve also focused on going green. Our facility processes hazardous materials, so we’re ROHS and REACH compliant. We’re hoping to continue reducing the fabrication costs because we remain convinced that we can make an impact in these industries.