Laritech certified for defense contracts

February 7-13, 2020 | By Amber Hair, Staff Writer
Laritech, a Moorpark-based circuit board manufacturer, spent months of preparation and tens of thousands of dollars to ready its business for military contracts.
The investment paid off when the company earned its AS9100 certification in January.
The AS9100 certification is a quality management system for the aerospace industry. It’s required for any military contract which deals in aerospace engineering, said Laritech founder Bill Larrick.
He said the certification was a crucial goal for the company, which already has limited military contracts for ground-based systems.
“We had to make the investment in order to continue and play in (the military) environment,” Larrick said. “It opens up new doors for us to serve that sector.”
AS9100 is a much more stringent system than the ISO 9001 certification, which Laritech has had since 2006. As part of the certification, the company underwent a three-and-a-half day audit by a three-star general.
“They came in and reviewed all of our processes,” said Terry Gonzales, vice president of operations and sales.
Much of the standard is based on being able to trace components back to their origins, according to Doug Butler, a quality manager with Laritech.
If there’s a fault circuit board in a ground-based system, it’s a problem, but the malfunction likely won’t put lives in danger. If a circuit board fails in an airplane, it could spell disaster for the plane and its passengers, so the military needs to be able to trace components back to the source and then be able to pull them out of any other systems that might be affected.
Pulling together the precision AS9100 requires took between $50,000-$75,000. As much of an investment as it was, it would have been much more difficult without the ISO certification the company already had.
“It’s not an easy feat,” Larrick said. “Not everyone has this.”
Laritech held off on going for the certification until after it moved into its current location at 5898 Condor Drive. The company could have gotten approved for AS9100 at its previous location in Moorpark, but Laritech ran out of room.
There wasn’t much point in adding expenses by having the first site inspected when the company was on its way out, Larrick said.
The company’s new space has approximately 77,000 square feet – more than three times the room it previously had.
“We can do more manufacturing here,” Gonzales said.
The company had $22.7 million in revenue in 2018 and 108 employees in 2019, according to Inc. Magazine.
Laritech showed off its abilities at an open house the company held on Jan. 23, when it invited customers and suppliers to see the Moorpark facility.
The new certification has already helped the company grow, as Laritech secured several contracts since the award.
Having AS9100 means Laritech is now overqualified, as Larrick put it, to produce much of its non-military products.
“It gives (our customers) a lot of confidence in our ability to produce circuit boards for them,” Larrick said.
Laritech’s AS9100 certification will also help groups beyond the company and its customers.
The circuit board manufacturers encourage the next generation of tech makers by sponsoring UC Santa Barbara engineering students’ capstone projects. Part of the sponsorship involves giving students a tour of the grounds, but another part is assembling the students’ hardware for them.
The UCSB engineering students’ projects touch many fields. One project, Guardian, aims to reduce human-elephant conflict by using drones to herd elephants back to protected lands, preventing crop damage and the deaths of both humans and elephants.
Another capstone project Laritech sponsors is Scopen, a pen-like tool which can measure electric signals. The tool is smaller than traditional oscilloscopes, and the project would benefit engineering hobbyists and students who don’t have access to larger and more expensive equipment.
With the new certification, Larrick said, visiting students can learn more about the certification process and the opportunities that it opened up.