Founder breaks with past to go ‘all-in’ on Harrisburg-based circuit board company
- Dan Thau followed his vision to scale up his basement business into a global company. Doing so required difficult decisions, excitement for the unknown, and one well-timed move.
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Harrisburg-based Millennium Circuits Limited has sent its circuit boards up into space and down into the ocean.
They have been involved in hundreds of products from Navy ship missile systems, to smart irrigation and agricultural products, to life-saving medical devices. With an unwavering purpose, MCL is focused on advancing innovation to positively impact society.
Year after year, MCL has been lauded as one of the 50 fastest-growing companies in Central Pennsylvania, and it is on pace to earn $20 million in revenue this year.
But this trajectory wasn’t always certain. About 10 years ago, founder and CEO Dan Thau realized he was at a crossroads, and in one weekend he changed the course of his company’s future.
One foot outside your comfort zone
In the beginning, there were three: Dan and his brother had a falling out that led to them not being able to work together. It was just Dan and his business partner and after several years in business, the company still was operating out of the partner’s basement. The partner was happy with the status quo, but Dan had a larger vision of building an empire.
They were at an impasse. One of them had to go. Over the course of a weekend, Dan bought out his partner and moved MCL to a new space.
“Initially, it was scary,” he says. “You’ve got to have one foot outside your comfort zone at all times. Otherwise, you’re not growing.”
Dan leased an old warehouse with another tenant, cut his salary to pay down his new debt, and pushed forward.
Following his vision
As sole owner of the company, Dan was able to put his vision into action. He began to scale up, buoyed by a partnership with a small, nimble factory in China. MCL outgrew the warehouse and moved to a new building 10 times larger. Each jump in growth brought new challenges, but that was the fun part for Dan.
“For me, it’s always like you go through different phases of growth personally in business and in learning, and it becomes more and more fun,” he says.
Dan started his growth and learning at Harrisburg Area Community College, majoring in business, and then challenging himself by switching to engineering. He earned his associate degree in 2006, building a foundation critical to his later success.
Assembling his team
“I just want to be the best I can be at what I’m doing,” Dan says. He’s driven by a passion for business and seeks out team members who want to grow, learn, and be their best with him.
“Initially, you start with a team that supports the company, and that’s not typically the same team that’s going to help you to scale,” he says. In the last few years, he’s hired a president to take over day-to-day operations and an employee based in China to mitigate supply chain issues. MCL also created a customer ERP that will allow them to streamline the operations of the business and provide transparency into every aspect of the business for customers and employees.
Dan strives for transparency and accountability, starting with his leadership team. When team members create their one-year vision plan, they align their priorities with that plan in mind. He calls it the “All-in” culture.
“It’s two feet in the boat,” he says. “We’re all rowing towards that same goal with the same purpose.”