FeaturedInvestmentsMagazine Issue

MoneySense Q1 2024 Features Ionics EMS: Investing for the Future

By John P. Dela Cruz

The year was 1974. The electronics industry was gaining momentum worldwide. Intel introduced the 8080 series of microprocessors, which became so popular that the company had to license them to other manufacturers. In the same year, Japan’s Toshiba launched the first floppy disk, while US-based Telenet started what many consider the world’s first internet service provider.

In the Philippines, the government of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was embarking on a major plan to industrialize the country. An export processing zone has just been set up in Bataan, with more planned in Cebu, Baguio, and Cavite. Industrial estates were also readied in Leyte in the Visayas and Misamis Oriental in Mindanao.

The Philippine economy was on the path to growth by substituting imports with domestic production. Local manufacturing began flourishing in textiles, clothing, metalworks, machinery, and petroleum products. Electronics was in its infancy, but one entrepreneur dreamed of establishing the first Filipino electronics manufacturing company.

And with that dream, a lot of sacrifices, and plenty of hard work, Complex Electronics was born. And Lawrence Qua started the Philippine foray into semiconductors. His small business eventually grew to include electronics assembly and other products and to become what is known today as Ionics EMS, Inc.

Industry Pioneer

Fifty years later, the late Lawrence Qua’s start-up continues to thrive among the top electronics manufacturers in the country. Ionics EMS has also become a major exporter of electronics products proudly made in the Philippines. It is also the first electronics manufacturing service provider listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

“As the founder of the longest-running electronics company in the Philippines, my dad’s story mirrors the history of the Philippine electronics industry. His is a story of resilience through innovation,” says Earl Lawrence S. Qua of his father, who founded Ionics EMS, Inc. with his siblings and Tom Yang, its founding Chief Operating Officer.

“He was always a pioneer, one of the first to get into semiconductors in the 1970s, one of the first to get into PCB Assembly and box build in the 1980s, one of the first to start a venture capital fund that invested in Silicon Valley technologies in the 1990s, and the first electronics company to be listed in the PSE. He was also one of the first to get into product design and original product manufacturing. He was always at the forefront of things,” adds Earl, who currently sits as Ionics Vice President for Business Development and is a member of the company’s Board of Directors.

Earl says it was his late father’s vision to put the Philippines on the world’s technology map, and this is still what drives the company today. But the burden of fulfilling that vision now rests with Earl and his colleagues in the Ionics management team, now led by his father’s younger brother and Ionics EMS, Inc. Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Raymond Qua.

“The next generation is eager to make its mark,” says Earl, who also imbibed his father’s entrepreneurial spirit. Other than his positions in Ionics EMS, Earl is also the Chief Operating Officer of VOXP Technologies & Innovations, Inc. and a member of the Board of Directors of CommuniGate Technologies Inc. He is also president of the Electronics Industry Association of the Philippines, Inc. (EIAPI). President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has appointed him as an Advisory Council Member of the Design Center of the Philippines.

Future Proof

Ionics EMS’s primary business today focuses on electronics manufacturing services (EMS). It has design services and original design manufacturer (ODM) products, but its main revenue source is still manufacturing operations. Earl’s job as head of business development at Ionics EMS is to exercise foresight and envision where the electronics industry is headed.

“As far as expansion is concerned, there is huge potential in leveraging our design capabilities and smart factory applications. Ionics has been developing its own ODM products, which it currently markets. It started its first ODM product in the 2010s. We are currently partnering with utility companies for a smart grid solution we developed,” he explains. 

Taking lessons from Stanley Hsieh, Chairman and CEO of global electronics giant Acer, he says growing Ionics EMS’ traditional manufacturing business will increasingly depend on the company’s ability to design ODM products and service platforms. Thus, he says, developing and owning intellectual property is critical to preserving the company’s profitability and overall business sustainability.

“Ionics has a smart factory, but this is just a stepping stone to enable us to expand our services portfolio and explore different business models. The world is drastically changing from a technology and geopolitical point of view, and we must change faster to anticipate best whatever the future holds,” Earl says.

“My vision is to make the smart factory a new form of manufacturing platform, which will enable us to be closer to our customers’ and their products’ point of consumption, even as we manage operations from the Philippines,” adds the Ionics EMS senior executive. “We will eventually need to be closer to points of consumption.”

In this regard, Earl says he cannot overemphasize the importance of investing for the future. He notes how, through his father’s initiative, Ionics EMS has been active in venture capital investing through the ICCP Group and how it garnered successes in the 1990s and early 2000s with home runs in the semiconductor space.

“We had great opportunities with semiconductor companies, and these investments were instrumental in getting our design capabilities up to speed. Our first ODM products were based on partnerships with semiconductor companies we have invested in,” Earl adds.

Read more in MoneySense Q1 2024 Issue

Get Your Copy Now!

Digital Copy: MoneySense Q1 2024 Features Ionics EMS: Investing for the Future


Digital Copy: MoneySense Q1 2024

PDF Download

MoneySense Q1 2024 Business and Investing Issue Features Ionics EMS: Investing for the Future

SKU: MSQ12024-PDF Categories: , , ,


MoneySense Q1 2024 Features Ionics EMS: Investing for the Future


There are no reviews yet.

Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.