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Customer trust has been key to growth at SCJ

Rochester Business Journal
January 17, 2014

(Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)

Turning customer opportunities into jobs well done has been the driving force for success at SCJ Associates Inc., its leader says.

“The company (has) executed extremely well on the opportunities presented to us by our customers,” said Scott Sutherland, president and CEO. “We started with customer opportunities and finished with solid execution by a dedicated team.

“Our performance led to a high degree of customer trust, which helped the business grow.”

Henrietta-based SCJ is an electronics contract engineering and manufacturing company that serves medical, aerospace, automotive, military, commercial and industrial customers.

It was started in 1971 by former General Dynamics Corp. engineers Norman Johnstone, John Corryn and Thurlow “Suds” Sutherland, Scott’s father. Thurlow Sutherland took sole ownership of the firm in 1988, and in 2002 he initiated an employee stock ownership program.

Scott Sutherland took the top spot in late 2004. He began his career at Eastman Kodak Co. as a mechanical engineer, where he worked for some 20 years in a number of roles, including project management.

Today, SCJ mainly serves customers in Western New York and other parts of Upstate New York, although it has some customers in Canada and Wisconsin. SCJ works mainly with original equipment manufacturers in the industrial sector and prime contractors for the U.S. government.

Barb Weigert, a purchasing agent with Pittsford-based Imaginant Inc., said her firm has worked with SCJ since 2000. SCJ supplies Imaginant with cable assemblies.

“When presented with a challenging requirement, SCJ invested many hours working with our engineers to provide a solution,” Weigert said. “Their creativity, paired with their competitive pricing, makes them a valued supplier to our business.”

SCJ employs 41 people, down from 44 in 2012. No layoffs have occurred, Sutherland said, because a few vacated positions were left unfilled. The firm had increased employment in 2012 from 43 in 2011 and 41 in 2010.

Sales rose through 2012, as well. Sutherland said they increased 25 percent in 2012 after rising 30 percent in 2010 and 10 percent in 2011.

The business ended 2013 with a roughly 25 percent drop in annual sales, partly because of the federal government sequestration, which reduced funding for aerospace and defense programs.

Sutherland expects the same funding challenge in 2014, as well as continued global economic pressures. He does see signs of the economy accelerating, however, and hopes sales in 2014 will grow 5 to 10 percent. The firm also is looking to add two to four workers this year to support manufacturing operations.

To help offset declining work in the aerospace and defense arenas, Sutherland wants to increase the amount of business SCJ does in the industrial and medical sectors.

SCJ has invested heavily in new equipment over the years, Sutherland said. It is a move that has helped the company expand from prototype manufacturing to production volumes for surface-mount technology. It also received ISO certification recently.

“We have put a lot of energy into operations development over the last five years, investing in equipment and training,” Sutherland said. “Now we need to put more resources toward the business development side of the business.”

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. Next year’s Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 5. For more information, go to

SCJ Associates Inc.
Electronics contract engineering and manufacturing company
Founded: 1971
Top executive: Scott Sutherland, president and CEO
Employees: 41
2013 ranking: 66
Location: Henrietta

1/17/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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