Jan 16, 2017
Manufacturing’s Makers and Shakers, Juli Fortune – Edsyn

Edsyn Logo2The Edsyn logo displays a hummingbird within the design and if you knew Juli Fortune’s father–Bill Fortune, a lifelong innovator (SOLDAPULLT®) and the founder of Edsyn–you’d quickly understand the connection. As a maker of high-quality soldering, desoldering, rework and fume extraction tools, like the hummingbird–the Edsyn company adapts to the task and even though small in size–can be very powerful. The original factory, nestled within the San Fernando valley remains in the same location as it did when Juli Fortune, Edsyn’s sales and marketing manager, visit­­­ed with her father so many years ago.

Juli Fortune Sales and Marketing Edysn

Juli Fortune – Edsyn Sales and Marketing Manager

“I remember the day he took me on the back of his bicycle,” said Juli. “We rode from our house to where I am sitting right now. He showed me the buildings and said, “’This is where we’re going to have the business now.’” Sometimes it just takes one genius idea and that’s what happened with the SODLAPULLT, a desoldering pump invented by Juli’s dad in their garage. At the time he worked as a technician in the soldering industry and like any true entrepreneur, he wanted to find a way to update and make the soldering process quicker for himself and his co-workers. “To me he really defined an entrepreneur—somebody who loved to invent and make new things—and make people’s jobs easier,” said Juli. “He was also just a great person, father and mentor.” The SOLDAPULLT revolutionized the industry as the first patented, desoldering hand tool. Hundreds more patents would follow and with those came growth and the formation of the Edsyn company.

EDSYN INC-15970_PT109_DV_WebXL

Soldapullt III® Petite Barrell Desoldering Pump with SRT12 Tip

“Pretty much everything he made went into production,” said Juli. “He invented and patented hundreds of ideas.” At the age of five years old, Juli began her tutelage by watching her dad invent in the garage. When old enough, she moved to the factory and worked alongside her grandmother where she learned shipping and receiving.  Next came the production line—putting together hand tools—where she gained more hands-on experience and eventually accounts payable. “When I was a kid I enjoyed working with numbers,” said Juli. “I think my dad saw that side of me. I loved accounts payable.” As her training continued she began exhibiting a good sense of business and people skills. These came in handy once she started working in sales and accompanying the sales manager on calls. Her big move came, both figuratively and literally when Edsyn decided to open a sales office in Germany where Juli would continue her sales career. “My dad sent me to school to learn German,” said Juli. “Most of my German had to be technical, too.” Because she had been experiencing the bones of the business for years, she successfully helped the overseas office transition by mirroring their U.S. operations. Edsyn soon made the decision to expand again and opened an office in the U.K. where Juli would eventually direct that sales office. Ten years later she returned home to become Edsyn’s marketing director and work directly with sales. Then in 2010 she began overseeing both sales and marketing. That’s when Juli saw one of the first major shifts in the manufacturing industry and one that would greatly impact and test Edsyn’s staying power. “Probably the biggest impact I’ve seen as a business has been the move by manufacturers to China,” said Juli. “That added huge pressure on us to compete. That’s probably been our biggest struggle—competing with companies with much less overhead.” So, while other manufacturers moved their businesses offshore, Edsyn chose to keep the bulk of the manufacturing operations in the U.S.

EDsyn Dad Franz

Edsyn’s Bill Fortune with two of NASA’s engineers

“My dad always put people first before anything,” said Juli. “He wanted to keep jobs here for our workers. He also believed we would have much tighter quality control.” Edsyn continued to win customers by creating an advantage—making very reliable and productivity-engineered devices—and that’s where they found their niche. “Many companies think that to remain competitive and stay ahead of the game, they need to continually add extra features to existing products to give the appearance of something new or different,” said Juli.  “Any new product idea or feature must pass our Productivity Engineering test to prove the innovation actually advances productivity.” Should an idea fail the test then the idea is put on hold. Edsyn-Engineering dedicated to suit your needs“If an added feature does not improve productivity, it is not addressing the real needs of the manufacturer,” said Juli.  “That’s where the bottom line is for our customers. They come to us knowing our strategy works and ultimately saves them time and money on the production floor. It demonstrates the truth in our name–“Engineering Dedicated to Suit Your Needs.” EDSYN won that battle for now but what about the future of manufacturing and electronic assembly products? Juli believes that unless the world plans on getting rid of technology–the electronics industry isn’t going away anytime soon–TVs, cell phones, cars, airplanes to name a few all depend on some form of electronic circuitry to function. “If we continue to improve on the way we use technology, there will always be an electronics industry here,” says Juli. “I don’t see it going anywhere—I just see that we’re going to have to manufacture in a way that continues to support innovation and growth.” And one of those ways needs to be through capturing the interest of our new generations. Like other manufacturers, Juli recognizes the seeming disinterest in manufacturing by today’s youth. “I just finished doing a tradeshow back East. I took my 21-year old nephew with me who is in training.   As I saw it, he was the only young person under the age of 30!  I think young people enjoy the end results of manufacturing–computers, ipads, electronic games–but there seems a general lack of interest in how these products are manufactured.” However, she does see many opportunities coming that could encourage a new breed of workforce. She mentions innovators like Elon Musk and his HyperloopTrain , Burt Rutan’s latest aircraft project,  the SkiGull, and Štefan Klein who designed the world’s first-ever flying car, the Aeromobil.  Juli believes if young people see these kinds of innovations—these possibilities—they’ll make manufacturing their career choice. “Innovation creates the need for engineering and this is what drives manufacturing—you gotta have an engineer if you want to make things better in this life,” says Juli. “Elon Musk is testing out a new train system that can work like a vacuum tube and Burt Rutan’s new plane will be able to go from land to sea in almost any condition while Klein’s beautiful transforming automobile to airplane gives you true freedom to move. That’s exciting for anyone to see happening including millennials.” Like Juli’s dad, she’s hoping that our young adults will want to make something that benefits the community—have that passion for wanting to invent something that improves the world.

Atmoscope Hisco

Loner® ESD-Safe Atmoscope SMT Hot Air Station with LT428 Hot Air Tip

When asked to name some of her favorite inventions by her father, she naturally mentions the SOLDAPULLT DS017, her Father’s first patented invention which launched an industry revolution more than 55 years ago–along with the innovative –the world’s first hot air SMT rework station. “My dad came up with the idea of using hot air to remove, rework and melt solder,” said Juli. “This was at a time when technology had changed—when the boards went from through-hole to surface mount—so technicians needed something new that would make it easier to work with the new components and boards.” Another favorite is the SOLDAVAC VA 175, a revolutionary air or vacuum pick and place system. “He used direct air pressure to simultaneously cool and lift desoldered components from the board enabling sensitive components to be handled without actually touching them,” said Juli. It’s the same technology that makes an airplane wing fly. The VA 175 demonstrates flight in action by using positive air pressure to pick up—it creates lift.” There’s more than one correlation to flight within the Edsyn family business story.  Juli, her sister Jeani and her dad flew planes—her father as an Air Force flight engineer and private pilot, Jeani as a commercial pilot and Juli as a hobby. Additionally, her dad had two experimental payloads fly aboard the NASA space shuttle CHALLENGER STS-7.

NASA Payload Crew

Kent Nishiyama, Bill Fortune and Sam Palmer

“NASA wanted to study and find out the effect zero gravity would have on soldering and desoldering,” says Juli. “My dad’s payload experiments were the only ones that actually worked and provided useful data. There’s no doubt that the information helped NASA build the space station because of the data they collected.” Who knows what the next generation of manufacturers will bring. Juli’s niece and two nephews work at Edsyn and will face many new challenges, but also—just like Juli’s dad – they have a wealth of opportunities to make things to better our lives. “My dad liked to give you something that could help you,” said Juli. “He was just a very giving person. That’s what I really loved about him and that’s what I want to keep going—be the company out there that isn’t just trying to make a buck off of you—but truly wants to help you make your job better and easier—be the guys who cared.”  


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