In your dreams, you’ve designed the NEXT BIG THING, raised more than you ever hoped on Kickstarter, and life is good. Then, those dreams turn quickly into a protracted maze of international commerce, foreign manufacturing pitfalls, taxes, port strikes, and the high cost of fulfillment. Portland entrepreneur Kevin Bates actually moved to China to make Aruboy a success. Central Oregon startups may find help closer to home.

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SisTech is a state-of-the-art electronics design and assembly facility right here in Bend off Empire Avenue. Industry veterans Brad and Lorraine Kennedy founded the company in 2009 and have been growing ever since. (Fun fact, they almost named it BendTech, and were the former owners of this domain.)

“We are a total product design realization solution for electronics products, from prototyping to full production,” says Brad Kennedy. SisTech has a 22,000 square foot facility, 16 employees, three production lines, a massive inventory of electronic components in stock for assembly, and a shipping department.

In some cases, they even design and produce packaging too, like for XIM4, the mouse and keyboard adapter for game consoles.

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Brad Kennedy knows overseas manufacturing is almost the default for tech companies. However, he’s had many clients test the waters across the Pacific and return to SisTech. “China is not all it’s cracked up to be,” said Kennedy. “Is it always going to be more expensive here than in China? Absolutely, but by the time you figure out shipping, duties, taxes, fine print, I think you’ll find it’s not much more than doing business here. We stand by our quality, protect your IP, and ship products as you need them instead of requiring a big upfront order.”

Local tech company PulsedLight, a recent #50Startups, tasked Kennedy and his team with assembling their LIDAR-Lite product, a favorite in the small drone industry.

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“We invest heavily in technology,” says Kennedy. “It’s all about keeping current with the industry, always being able to build anything. I invested substantially in the last 10 months to keep up and add capacity. For example, a 3D X-Ray allowing for non-destructive failure analysis of electronic assemblies will be installed this month.”

SisTech produces approximately 700 products a year. If you have something ready to launch from your garage or local makerspace, SisTech might help you avoid the pitfalls of hardware tech startups, and create a product truly made in Bend.

Tierney O'Dea

Tierney O’Dea is a writer and media consultant. She started her career at NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw and worked in various forms of media for national organizations including Scholastic, Yahoo, and NASA. She also served as an executive for two startups, Slooh.com and Medic Mobile, and as a mentor for entrepreneurs in Austin, TX. In her free time, she enjoys downhill skiing, hiking, photography, and astronomy.
Tierney O'Dea