Maker of Circuit Boards Plugs Back In

San Diego County Business Editor

Retirement last year at age 46 did not sit well with Robert Herring, who in September sold his printed circuit board manufacturing company called Industrial Circuits to a Japanese concern for $60 million.

So Herring is ending his brief coupon-clipping career and jumping back into business. Last week, his new company, called Herco Technology, bought 2.5 acres in the Sabre Springs Business Park in northeastern San Diego and announced plans to spend more than $42 million to build a 157,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art printed circuit board plant.

“I’m basically putting all of the profits (from the 1988 sale) back in the company,” Herring said. When the new plant opens early next year, it will employ 150, increasing to as many as 400 workers by the end of 1990, Herring said.

Last September, Herring sold Industrial Circuits, which he had founded in 1972, to Toppan Printing of Japan, a $4-billion company that is one of that country’s largest circuit board manufacturers. Herring had built the company to $40 million in annual sales and more than $5 million in profits, he said. The company still occupies a 110,000-square-foot plant in the Miramar Road area.


Herring and four family members, were the only selling shareholders. Those sellers included two sons, Robert Jr. and Charles, who work with him.

He said he built his business by being a dependable, low-cost supplier of multi-layered circuit boards to a variety of customers including Apple Computer, Western Digital and NCR. One of the conditions of the sale to Toppan was that Herring promise not to set up a competing company for six months after the sale. Now that those six months have lapsed, Herring said, he is anxious to get back into the market and will be approaching many of his former customers for business.

Herring said he is spending about $30 million for machinery for the plant, $7 million for the building and $5.5 million for the parcel in the 52-acre business park, a development of Pardee Construction Co. of Los Angeles. The business park is a component of the 1,500-acre Sabre Springs master-planned community on Interstate 15 at Poway Road.

Herco’s neighbor in the business park is Scientific Atlanta, which is now building an adjacent 108,000-square-foot plant, said Gary Licker, a Pardee vice president. Scientific Atlanta will employ 500 to manufacture listening devices for Navy submarines.