Review: Sanmina vs. Celestica

Celestica and Sanmina are two of the largest Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) providers by revenue. They each have more than 20 locations worldwide and service top original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in every electronics industry. 


Headquartered in San Jose, CA, Sanmina is a world-class EMS provider specializing in optical, electronic, and mechanical products. It offers end-to-end solutions—design, manufacturing, and logistics—to OEMs in virtually all complex equipment sectors. Founded in 1980, Sanmina has a global presence in 25 countries with roughly 44,000 employees and over 8,400,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Sanmina is a Fortune 500 company, bringing in $5.9B in revenue for the fiscal year 2013.

Markets: Communication networks, computing & storage, medical, defense & aerospace, industrial & semiconductor, multimedia, automotive, and clean technology.

Services: Design & engineering, new product introduction, supply chain management, manufacturing, and logistics.

Products/components: PCB, cables, enclosures, SSD & DRAM, backplanes, plastics & die casting, precision machining & frames, and optical & RF microelectronics.

Offshore locations: Guadalajara, Mexico; Kunshan, China; Monterrey, Mexico; Port Glasgow, Scotland; Ottawa, Canada; Chennai, India; Depot Close, Singapore; Ma’alot, Israel; Yasu, Japan; Alsozsolca, Hungary; Salo, Finland; Shenzhen, China; Basingstoke, UK.

US locations: San Jose, California; Dallas, Texas; Fremont, California; Huntsville, Alabama; Turtle Lake, Wisconsin.

Certifications: ISO 9001:2008; ISO13485, AS9100, ISO14001 (Environmental); AS9100C (Aerospace); NADCAP 7120; ESD Systems: s20.20, Class 0; ANSI-J-STD 001 ES (Space Addendum); ANSI-J-STD Certified Trainers and Operators; IPC-A-610, Class1-3; CMMI, Maturity Level 3; ITAR Registered & Compliant.

Specialties: Communications (approximately 48% of sales).

Financial: FY 2013 $5.92 Billion, down from $6.09 billion in 2012.

Review: Sanmina has been one of the most dominant EMS providers since the 1980s. Although Sanmina is a supplier to OEMs in all industries, the company’s depth of expertise lies in telecom, aerospace, and medical systems. In 2012, the company removed “SCI” from its company name, though SCI Technology, Inc. remains a Sanmina subsidiary focused on aerospace and defense. Currently, Sanmina is the world’s largest supplier of finished medical equipment, offering unparalleled aftermarket services to their medical customers.

Sanmina is vertically integrated, organized by customer focus, and uses a joint design manufacturing (JDM) model. Sanmina’s generates its net sales from a relatively small number of companies (their ten largest customers represent 50% of net sales), confirming their focus on long-term customer relationships. Their supply agreement terms with major OEMs typically range from three to five years.

As stated in their 2013 annual report, Sanmina’s approach to its target market entails strengthening their presence in communications, computing, and multimedia markets, as well as focusing on under-penetrated markets traditionally untouched by outsource manufacturers—including medical, industrial and semi-conductor capital equipment, clean technology, automotive, and defense & aerospace.

Glassdoor: Based on 105 reviews on, Sanmina has received 2.5/5 stars, with 33% of respondents recommending the company to a friend. Based on 66 ratings, Sanmina’s CEO, Jure Sola, received a 35% approval rating.

“Some very good people to work with who do care and basically keep the place going. Work life balance somewhat encouraged with some flexibility.” – Former Sanmina program manager.

“No connection between senior management and the ‘real people’ who makes [SIC] the business happen, very poor communication about the vision and plans.” – Current Sanmina program manager.

(See Sanmina’s complete Glassdoor review)

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By revenue almost exactly the same size as Sanmina, Celestica is a $5.8 billion world-class EMS provider headquartered in Toronto, Canada. Like Sanmina, Celestica offers end-to-end solutions to OEMs in many electronics industries, most notably information technology and communications. With approximately 20 locations worldwide and 30,000 employees, Celestica is the largest Canada-based electronic manufacturing service.

Markets: Aerospace & defense, capital equipment, communications, consumer, enterprise computing, industrial, health tech, and renewable energy.

Services: Design & engineering, NPI, manufacturing, systems integration, after-market, fulfillment, global logistics, returns prevention, product data management solutions, green, precision machining, and supply chain services.

Offshore locations: Toronto, Canada; Monterrey, Mexico; Salzburg, Austria; Galway, Ireland; Oradea, Romania; Valencia, Spain; Zurich, Switzerland; Shatin, Hong Kong; Shanghai, China; Song Shan Lake, China; Suzhou, China; Wuxi, China; Miyagi, Japan; Tokyo; Japan; Seoul, Korea; Johor, Malaysia; Kulim, Malaysia; Woodlands, Singapore; Serangoon, Singapore; Taipei, Taiwan; Laem Chabang, Thailand.

US locations: Austin, Texas; Fremont, California; Ontario, Canada; Portland, Oregon; San Jose, California.

Certifications: Defense: AS9100, Nadcap, ITAR, CGP, ISO9001:200, J-STD-001/IPC 610C level 3. Medical: internationally recognized QMS standards; FDA QSR compliant; ISO 9001/13485:2003; QSR/cGMP compliant.

Specialty: Communications (42% of total sales 2013).

Financial: FY 2013 $5.8 billion in revenue, down 11% from 2012.

Review: Starting out as a subsidiary of IBM-Canada, Celestica traditionally focused on communications technology and products patented by outside companies. However, Celestica has recently shifted its strategy by offshoring traditional operations and focusing its domestic efforts on product innovation in emerging markets. In September 2012, only months after an announcement to sever ties with BlackBerry, Celestica acquired D&H Manufacturing Company, a key supplier of precision machined/fabricated components and assemblies for the semiconductor capital equipment industry. Both moves underscored Celestica’s strategic shift, and the company continues to eye diversified markets—medical and aerospace, in particular—to fill the void left by BlackBerry.

Celestica’s reputation and overall excellence have been achieved over years of trial, error, and close work with major companies like Honeywell Inc., Raytheon Co., Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS. Like Sanmina, Celestica’s business relies on select, intimate contracts with relatively few customers. In 2013, the company’s top 10 customers represented 65% of the company’s total revenue, Cisco Systems Inc. comprising more than 10% of the total.

Glassdoor: Based on 116 reviews on, Celestica has received 3.2/5 stars with 51% of employees recommending the company to a friend. Based on 73 ratings, Celestica’s CEO, Craig H. Muhlhauser has received a 73% approval rating.

“Great people to work with in the trenches.” – Current Celestica Engineering Manager.

“The company’s performance is impacted significantly by the industry and the clients, so it is not too stable in terms of business and job security.” – Former Celestica employee.

(See Celestica’s complete Glassdoor review.)

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Are Sanmina or Celestica right for you? Use our 5 Rules to Finding the Right-Sized Contract Manufacturer to find out.

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