Some Like It Hot

Perfect Memory

Winspec West Manufacturing Inc.
Marco Fuxa, Martin Hofer and Joachim Nemeth

Call it modesty or humility. The folks at Winspec West Manufacturing Inc., a computer memory manufacturer and international distributor of computer hardware-aka No. 1 in this year's Hot 100 race-aren't too big for their britches. How's that possible when a company that's only been around since 1999 expects 2001 sales of $40 million? Frankly, with only six full-time employees, there's little time for back-patting.

They established Winspec in laid-back Walnut, California, but co-
owners Marco Fuxa, 37, Martin Hofer, 34, and Joachim Nemeth, 31-former corporate co-workers in New York City-have retained a big-city work mentality. "Although it seems very Southern California, when we do something, it's never maybe or ma�FDana," says Hofer, who works out of the company's Walnut headquarters, while Fuxa and Nemeth oversee operations in New York City. "It's got to be done right away, and if not, then forget about it." That also means doing things right the first time. Of the 2,000 shipments distributed annually, 99.9 percent are shipped complaint-free. And because 40 to 45 percent of revenue is generated from buying or selling in international markets, the company requires that native speakers deal with those accounts to better serve them.

The owners credit their employees for getting Winspec to its present market position. And with Fuxa hailing from Italy and Hofer and Nemeth from Germany, implementing a benefits package European-style (99 percent paid medical and dental coverage, generous vacation days and no questions asked regarding days off) isn't a perk-it's standard. In hindsight, Hofer feels they could've hired more people sooner, but quality ruled over quantity. For instance, regarding their hiring of their first secretary, Hofer says, "We could've hired somebody to staple for $20,000 a year or hired somebody who has a higher potential. So [for a steeper salary] we hired somebody with an MBA in finance." Seeing as that secretary's now acting CFO, it paid off.

Thanks to careful customer screening, the troubled U.S. economy hasn't negatively affected Winspec. But the threat of a ripple effect hurting markets in Europe and the Far East, where the company does significant business, is worrying. Still, Hofer contends business must forge ahead. "The current market shouldn't be an excuse for sitting tight and not starting a company if you have the potential," he says. "Best case, you'll be [at the forefront] when the market bounces back. Worst case, you survive."

-By Michelle Prather

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This article was originally published in the June 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Some Like It Hot.

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