October 2018

Phong Ngo promoted to President of General Plasma
As announced in the News and Events sections, Phong Ngo, previously the company’s Vice President, is now the President and CEO of General Plasma.  As a company owner I’ll be staying on as Board Chair and in an advisory role.  This move is overdue as Phong has functionally run the company for the last 2 years.  With my ever-lengthening stays in Western Massachusetts and his fully developed management skills, its high time to make this change. 

I’ve been so fortunate to have Phong at General Plasma.  The company simply wouldn’t be where it is, enjoying the success we’ve attained, without his presence.   After 36 years in Vacuum Coating, 21 of them with General Plasma, I’ve found my interest wandering to other fields.  With Phong and Brett Frostenson successfully running General Plasma, I’ve been able to step down without any disruption to the operation.  If anything, there has been an uptick in business (my ego attributes this to market conditions!).


October 2017

Welcome to Brett Frostenson to General Plasma
Brett Frostenson has joined General Plasma as our VP of Engineering.  I’ve known Brett since 2000 when we built the first inline vacuum coater for Gentex (their second).  He was Gentex' coating technical manager and our primary contact person.  After a short time it became clear Brett was a top-flight engineer: Extremely knowledgeable, creative and hard working.  Over successive years, as we’ve supplied additional systems, our appreciation and respect for Brett only increased.  Phong in particular developed a strong bond with Brett as he developed the software and controls for these systems and spent many weeks at Gentex.

“Boy, if we could have Brett working with us!” we’ve said many times.  We never broached the subject with him.  Gentex has been a super customer and Fred Bauer, their CEO, is the best there is.  When Brett approached us though we didn’t hesitate, “Oh yah, we’re open to the idea!”  After 20 years at Gentex he and his wife Kathy were looking for a warmer climate.  We’re in Tucson AZ.  We can help with that!  He couldn’t have come at a better time as the consumer products company Ngomad is launched and with several new sputter and ion source products in the works. 

The sentiment of the renowned Jeff Vogler, when he heard Brett was coming to General Plasma, says it all: “Wow!  What a Get!”


September 2015

Glassdoor Reviews of General Plasma

​​​I’ve hesitated to respond to the reviews on Glassdoor for a long time.  I had heard about a group of ex-Engineers (the ‘Alumni Club’) and their contributions to internet reviews of General Plasma, but I felt responding would lend credence to them.  I thought with time going by (years) they would move on.  In the last few months, several terrible reviews have been posted and I realize a response is needed – and probably should have been made earlier.

As a small company (30 people), with less turnover than the reviews suggest, we pretty much know who could be behind an anonymous review.  In one recent case, when a harsh review appeared, we contacted the only Engineer who had left in several months and he said he had not posted a review.  This fit with the fact that the review didn’t reflect his personality or style.  Glassdoor’s response to my request that the review be removed was that ‘the review fit within their standards and would not be removed’. 

I’d imagine anyone reading the reviews on Glassdoor would be shocked at the tone and content.  We certainly are and hope readers, before drawing conclusions, will consider the anonymous source, the lack of any constructive criticism and the repetitive personality of the bad reviews.  To put our side of the story out there and share about General Plasma, I’ve put together my own list of Pros and Cons (completely unbiased of course!).  Since the bad reviews are from Engineers – and engineering is a core competency of our company, these are from an engineering prospective.
Pros

  • General Plasma is a great place to develop engineering knowledge and skill.  Our products and systems involve a wide range engineering disciplines:  Big metal vacuum chambers, water, gas and vacuum piping systems, automated conveyor systems and high voltage plasma sources.  For the right Engineer, it’s a dream job.
  • Many highly skilled and experienced Engineers and Technicians, to work with and learn from.  Contrary to reviews, two thirds of General Plasma’s employees have been with the company over 5 years with several 10+ year veterans.  
  • Good benefits reflecting the value placed in employees by management.  The company pays 100% of the monthly health benefit premium of individual employee.  The plan is a Blue Cross PPO.  Employees immediately start accruing 17 days per year paid time off plus there are 8 paid holidays.  Other benefits include 401K with company match up to 3% of annual salary and dental and vision benefits.  Based upon company performance, significant, merit based bonuses are paid out with some employees receiving in excess of their annual salary.
  • An open, flat management structure that rewards achievement, not politics.  Phong and I run the business together.  We know all the employees and they know us.  They know they can walk into our office anytime with a concern or question – without fear of reprisal.  Creating a secure, enjoyable work environment is not only more pleasant, but it makes good business sense.  Our 100% retention of key employees over the years would not have been possible in an arbitrary and/or contentious atmosphere.

Cons

  • General Plasma is a challenging place to work.  We’d like to think it’s challenging because we’re determined to make great products.  We have survived and thrived delivering innovative products that really solve customer problems.  To develop and engineer such products takes supreme effort and team work.  Our approach is to ‘be the customer’ and question every aspect of a design.  This is done through design reviews and problem solving meetings.  In theory the process is hard on ideas and easy on the messenger.  Some Engineers love this technical back and forth process as ideas are put out – and shot down or moved along - in rapid fire.  Others experience it as a personal attack as their thought processes are questioned and their ideas challenged. 
  • The time and effort commitment expected of Engineers is likely greater than many companies.  As we all know, things take longer than planned.  Changing the brake pads on a car takes 6 hours instead of 2 as bolts are stuck and we don’t have the right tools.  This situation is exaggerated when designing a new product.  To deliver a truly great product takes far more time and effort than an acceptable delivery date can encompass.  I’ve never found a way around this and I’m not sure others have either.  There is some consolation seeing the effort it took Steve Jobs and his team to make such incredible products at Apple.
  • One last ‘con’ (that long time employees consider a ‘pro’).  There is nowhere to hide at General Plasma.  The President and Vice President are the principle Engineers and the flat structure insures that everyone’s contribution is known and acknowledged.  Our ‘A’ players love the feedback and the relief from political or uninformed decision making.  Unfortunately, some find this to be a less than optimal work environment.    


This is our side of the story and I hope it resonates with you.  It's disheartening that the current state of the internet is such that what amounts to libelous statements can be prominently published anonymously with impunity.

President

Phong Ngo

Over our 22 year history General Plasma has delivered products in excess of $100M worldwide including many repeat orders to long standing customers.   This success is attributable to our total commitment to customer satisfaction and our ability to repeatably deliver high value, commercially profitable solutions.  


General Plasma’s President, Phong Ngo, started as an engineering intern in 2006.  Today Phong is partner and owner in the business along with founder John Madocks.


In 2017 Brett Frostenson joined General Plasma as the Vice President of Engineering.  Prior to General Plasma, Brett had a highly successful career at Gentex Corporation for 20 years.

Chairman of the Board

John Madocks

February 2015
Our Values & Philosophy

The values we stand for are important at General Plasma. Three we aspire to are honesty, fair play and product perfection. 


Honesty means being truthful with ourselves, our co-workers and our customers. The greatest gift we can give each other is honesty. Honesty builds trust and long term relationships. As everyone knows, being honest isn’t always easy and isn’t always received well. On the other hand, dishonesty or spinning the truth, has an even greater cost. We value honesty highly at General Plasma.


Fair play is about being ethical in our business dealings and considerate of our co-workers, vendors and others. Its the Golden Rule put into action.

 
Product perfection is in the eye of the customer! It is such a fantastic challenge – to build something, to agonize over every aspect yet in the end have no say in its success. There is nothing like it though when a customer says “Wow!” It's what we live for at General Plasma.


CHAIRMAN's blog

By John Madocks

about GENERAL PLASMA

Product Drop Down

Tucson Arizona based General Plasma is a leading innovator and component supplier to the large area vacuum coating industry.   General Plasma is the worldwide leader in linear ion sources with the largest installed base and the highest rated performance.  In sputtering magnetrons, General Plasma’s patented products are gaining recognition as the industries best.  These products include high uniformity and utilization magnet bars, Ultra-Compact Rotatable Magnetron End Blocks and moving magnet planar magnetrons.