Silicon Mechanics weathering the economic storm

When disastrous floods hit Thailand last fall, Eva Cherry and her Silicon Mechanics crew had to rack their brains in order to complete their rackmount-servers orders. What happened a world away affected the Bothell company since the servers need hard drives, and Thailand is the place where nearly 45 percent of the world's devices are produced, according to an NPR report.

President and CEO of Bothell-based Silicon Mechanics

When disastrous floods hit Thailand last fall, Eva Cherry and her Silicon Mechanics crew had to rack their brains in order to complete their rackmount-servers orders.

What happened a world away affected the Bothell company since the servers need hard drives, and Thailand is the place where nearly 45 percent of the world’s devices are produced, according to an NPR report.

“The hard-drive-manufacturing capacity was reduced by almost 30 percent,” said Cherry, 46, a Kirkland resident and Silicon Mechanics president and chief executive officer. “We just got creative about how to fulfill our orders.”

With fewer hard drives available and prices for existing ones skyrocketing, Cherry ordered some devices at reasonable prices from Amazon’s Germany location and some from the United Kingdom. She had some hard drives delivered to her mother in her native Germany, and they were soon shipped to Bothell.

“It’s about building flexibility into your business, into the culture to feel, ‘Well, whatever comes our way, we’ll somehow find a way to deal with that and make it through,'” said Cherry of her company, which manufactures rackmount servers along with storage and high-performance computing clusters.

The Puget Sound Business Journal recently named Silicon Mechanics one of the Eastside’s 50 fastest-growing private companies. It made $30 million in 2011 and has been profitable for the last 27 months, said Cherry, adding that the company hopes to hit $35 million in revenues this year. Most of its business is generated in the U.S. and it has 80 to 90 percent repeat customers, from small businesses to larger firms.

“The atmosphere right now is extremely busy, which is great,” said Steve Wiechert, chief operating officer and chief financial officer. “I think key to our success, especially in this difficult economy, is our ability to work more efficiently than the other guy. We’ve put a lot of things in place that have ensured processes are followed; we’re doing better at documentation, we’re getting the right people on board.”

Cherry, originally from Zwickau in the former East Germany, received her master’s in business administration from Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has more than 20 years of executive management experience in technology and manufacturing, including 10 years as a management consultant in Deloitte’s Strategy & Operations and Enterprise Applications practices.

She joined Silicon Mechanics in 2008 and stepped into her current role a year later. The company has been located in Bothell since 2006 and presently has 50 employees, with more on the way, Cherry said.

Her journey from Germany to South Africa and beyond began after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. She was in Berlin at the time, and soon a family friend from South Africa suggested she head to that country to Wits University.

“The world’s open all of a sudden,” Cherry said of the wall falling and her ensuing travels.

Cherry has found success along the way, but the struggling economy affected Silicon Mechanics a few years ago.

In order to weather the economic storm, Cherry, Wiechert and their staff pulled together, were up front with their customers about the firm’s financial situation and kept them on board, informing them that things would soon improve. That’s exactly what happened, and now profits are up, Silicon Mechanics and its valued customers are tighter than ever and Cherry’s employees are thriving under her leadership.

“Internally, I started ‘fireside chats’ and we talked about our financial performance, what the market was looking like and what our plans were,” said Cherry, who is married, has a German Shepherd and enjoys skiing, biking and golfing. “It’s neat to see how people have grown over the years, through the tough times,” she added.

More in Business

The new Bothell Friday Market will run from 3-8 p.m., every Friday through Sept. 27. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
New Bothell Friday Market opens

Bothell Friday Market will run every Friday through Sept. 27

Kiddie Academy locations on the Eastside win national recognition

Six locally owned educational child care centers received an award for brand excellence and customer service.

Selection and steady sales characterize local market

Buyers can enjoy additional selection this summer as they look for the home of their choice.

From left: Craig Olson, Joan Schrammeck, and Paula Paula DelGiudice with a solar panel. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
Little Bit in Redmond goes solar

Northwest Electric and Solar (NWES) of Kenmore donates a solar energy system to the therapeutic riding center.

Microsoft reveals project criteria for $500 million affordable housing funds

The company will soon accept applications for projects related to affordable housing on the Eastside.

Local real estate market brings more opportunities for buyers

Homebuyers are also benefiting from lower interest rates, which are currently are less than four percent.

Maurita Colburn, the chamber’s Member and Community Relations manager, welcomes Country Village owner Leeann Tesorieri as she receives a standing ovation from local business owners. Kailan Manandic/staff photo
Bothell Kenmore Chamber honors Country Village

The chamber awarded Country Village owner, Leeann Tesorieri, as member of the month.

Kailan Manandic/staff photo 
                                Bothell’s newest animal hospital opens with a joint celebration hosted by the Bothell Kenmore Chamber of Commerce.
Twin Pines Animal Hospital offers new vet services in Bothell

The animal hospital had been operating in the community for years before opening a new location.

The data visualized here was compiled from Apartment List’s monthly rent reports. See an interactive chart below. Kailan Manandic / data illustration
Eastside rental market could balance out with the region

Eastside rent medians increased by 2.8 in the past year, a decrease in growth from previous years.

Bothell’s Country Village opened in 1981 and offers around 40 small businesses a place to operate. It was thought to be closing this month, but recently announced shops will remain open until June 1. Aaron Kunkler / Bothell-Kenmore Reporter
Country Village announces some shops will remain open until June

The well-loved village announced the two-month extension for certain businesses two days after its supposed closure.

Work crews construct the first floor of Kenmore’s newest downtown development, the Flyway. The building is adjacent to the Hangar, Kenmore’s community center, and will be a mixed retail and residential space.
Kenmore’s newest downtown development breaks ground

The Flyway broke ground last week and aims to complete construction by February 2020.

Aaron Kunkler / Bothell-Kenmore Reporter 
                                Country Village is home to more than 40 local businesses. It is unclear whether these shops will secure new locations in Bothell before the center closes in April 2019.
Country Village closed after hosting local shops since 1985

The Country Village hosted about 40 local shops and restaurants before closing on March 31.