Customer Stories, Manufacturing

Russtech Engineering: Delivering “Plug and Play” Value to the Aerospace Industry

If you’re the average, everyday non-engineer, wrapping your head around what Mukilteo, Washington-based Russtech Engineering Co. does, might be challenging. This nearly 50-year-old company serves clients in the worlds of commercial and military aerospace and has capabilities in robotics and industrial automation. Specifically, they engineer solutions for “electrical connector protection” in aircraft systems. So…what does that mean?

Fortunately, Dobie Steikunas, Russtech’s Director of Global Sales and Marketing, is good at breaking it all down. “Picture yourself on an international, ten-hour flight, looking at the screen for the in-flight entertainment system on the back of the seat in front of you. These systems have connectors, which are the components that bring circuits together in electrical systems. These circuits are susceptible to EMI (electrical-magnetic interference) and EMP (electromagnetic pulse) that could interfere with other systems on the aircraft. Our solutions prevent that interference.”


What makes Russtech’s solutions particularly user-friendly is the design team’s focus on “value engineering”. According to Dobie, that means “supplying a customer with more than just components. We try to provide something that’s ‘plug and play’, which means that no user assembly is required. When it’s damaged, you just pull out the whole thing and replace it. That’s how we offer more value.”

Russtech’s people have spent plenty of time over the years zeroing in on how to provide value. In fact, the company was founded by a World War II veteran named Russell Fieberg in 1974 in Southern California. Initially, they focused on connector assembly tooling, but as time wore on, they got involved with a few major “original equipment manufacturers”. They ultimately found their niche in “IFEC”: in-flight entertainment and connectivity.

Two years ago, Russtech Engineering made the move from California to Washington. It was an economic as well as a strategic choice. “There is an excellent engineering talent pool here to draw from. Boeing is in Washington. So is Panasonic Avionics, the undisputed leader in IFEC and probably our biggest customer.”

Following this relocation, Russtech Engineering sought out a number of resources and partnerships to support their growth. Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC) was one of these partners.

“We had changed our strategy to market a tooling line through a franchise agreement with an exclusive distributor. This drove a new packaging scheme: a custom, digitally printed corrugated box with a foam insert.”



Dobie says that the process for designing this box with GLBC was “very interesting.” Together, they explored the customization they would need to accommodate the “specific geometry” of their tooling products. They determined that the packaging needed to be reusable. They landed on a custom digital printing strategy to include all the important features like QR codes.


“After a series of iterations, we came up with something very impressive. In fact, when our distribution partner saw it, they said that in all the product launches they’ve ever been involved with, they’ve never seen anything so consumer ready. They said, ‘I can’t believe you guys did all this and so quickly.’ So, suffice it to say, our experience with GLBC was wonderful and next time we’re going to launch a product, we know who we’ll go to.”

As the Russtech team considers what’s ahead, they’re feeling good about the growth in their sights. “A year ago, we didn’t have any franchise distributors, and now we’re building a sales representative network across the country. We’re excited about incremental growth as well as bringing new products to market.”

As they do so, GLBC will be ready to roll with whatever creative, customized packaging needs this brainy and ambitious team might need.




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