2021 Executive of the Year
PNAA’s Executive of the Year Award is presented to an executive of an aerospace company located within the Pacific Northwest who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the Pacific Norwest Aerospace Industry.
Frank Nichols has been at the center of Silicon Forest Electronics for over 20 years. Founded by Mr. Nichols in 1999 as a “green field” start-up bringing quick turn and rapid response operations to the Pacific Northwest, Silicon Forest Electronics’ marketplace has expanded to both a national and international reach. With 86 full-time employees, including a highly experienced management team, skilled engineers, and business development executives, Silicon Forest Electronics has a current revenue of approximately $22 million.
Headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, Silicon Forest Electronics is a full-service electronics manufacturing company providing prototype and full turnkey production services for leading-edge electronic manufacturing from aerospace, defense, unmanned systems, medical, industrial, and instrumentation sectors. Its customers range from the US Department of Defense to Aerospace Tier one contractors and small start-up entrepreneurs. Frank brings 48 years of complex manufacturing history to these markets. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering from California State University, Fresno, and an MBA from the University of Phoenix, Frank worked for over a decade as a quality engineer and systems engineer for the Navy and Air Force air-to-air and air-to-ground missile systems. He then transitioned to Government Systems Program Manager for Eaton Corporation working on automated storage and retrieval systems focused on military applications.
In 1987, Mr. Nichols began his consulting company, Orion Services, which provided long-term marketing, management, and engineering support to Department of Defense and Department of Energy prime contractors. He served in a numerous management positions working on a variety of projects for the next decade until founding Silicon Forest Electronics in 1999.
Despite the onset of the global pandemic in March and the slowdown of the aerospace industry, COVID-19 has not slowed the revenue growth. Silicon Forest Electronics’ highly diverse customer base and product mix helped reduce market risks and balance demand cyclicality across uncertain markets. Nikki Malcom, PNAA Chairwoman, describes Frank as “a true visionary. Through his leadership, vision, and discipline to stay with that vision he has helped support Silicon Forest Electronics to thrive during the pandemic. His generosity in sharing his knowledge and purpose into the industry helps drive collaboration and connection at a time when it is needed the most.”
Frank Nichols provides insight into Silicon Forest Electronics growth and success, “SFE embraces two critical principles that contribute to the success that SFE enjoys. First, there is a focus on people in 360 degrees: that is, our employees, customers, suppliers, and community partners. If you take care of the people, growth and profits will follow. Second, eliminate single points of failure and concentration of resources on a single mission. Train many skills into many people, have back-up equipment and processes, and don’t rely on a few large customers.”
In addition to his responsibilities at Silicon Forest Electronics, Frank finds time to serve on numerous boards as well as pursue his passion for photography. As an accomplished professional photographer with a master’s degree from the Professional Photographers of America, Frank travels extensively in search of unique and wild and endangered animals. He is noted for his photographs of grizzly bears from Alaska, Canada, Montana, and Wyoming.
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Company of the Year
2021: Blue Origin
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2019: Dylan Aerospace
Executive of the Year
2021: Frank Nichols
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2019: Daniele Cagnatel
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2019: Cindy Boman
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Woman of the Year
2021: Nancy White
2020: Lori Nevin
Technical Advancement Award