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This month we pay our respects to Mike Bennett

I had the honor of knowing Mike Bennett for over 15 years; he was Taiyo's "Heart & Soul" of Texas. Mike was Taiyo's distributor for Texas, and he was the main reason that we have such a strong market presence in Texas. He knew all of the PCB manufacturers in Texas as well as many throughout the industry.

It was always enjoyable visiting with Mike as he always had great stories about his family, friends, goat cook offs, and life in general. It was fun visiting customers with Mike because he knew them so well; it was like he was visiting family.

Though I am an Angels fan, it was a blast to go to Texas Rangers baseball games with Mike (his seats were fantastic, too). I still recall my last visit to Texas when we started talking about cooking at campouts. He was giving me suggestions since I was preparing for my first Boy Scout outing where I had to cook a meal for the other dads on the trip. Later Mike sent a text asking how my meal went and I sent him a photo; he was impressed with our "purty fancy camp grub".

In my mind I think Mike's legacy is that he genuinely cared about his family and friends, and it is an honor to know that I was a friend. Mike will be missed by many.

John Fix, Manager & Director, Sales and Marketing

Mike Bennett, wife Terri, daughters Kristen & Melissa

Best in Show- World Championship Goat Cook-off, Brady, TX

1920's Party

Taiyo Distributor Dinner (2008)


A Tribute to Mike Bennett (by Doug McBride)
Mike Bennett was a staple in the circuit board industry for many years, and he and I became good friends at some point along the way.  We started out many years ago as casual friends, back when we both still had a full head of hair, and even though we were almost always competitors, we never let that get in the way of our friendship.  Heck, lots of times we helped each other out even though we were competitors...just because.
No one ever just sat down and had a short conversation with Mike...
There were always lots of tangents to go off on and lots of trivial issues to debate.  There was not much trivia that was too trivial for Mike to talk about.
Mike and I had some common interests that we were pretty passionate about; music, anything technical, and "Living the dream" we call circuit boards.
To explain what kind of guy Mike was, you need to understand his mind a little.  One late afternoon, probably about 10 years ago, Mike called and said, "Let's go get a beer Dougie."  I've always hated it when people call me that, and Mike knew that, but when he called me that I just took it as a symbol of our friendship.  I told him I couldn't because I needed to get down to Austin the next morning and he said, "I've been needing to go down too... how about you drive and I'll buy the gas."
So the next morning we headed down really early and we were flipping through tons of CDs (this was before iPods), we always had music in the background. We were talking about politics, technology, complaining about suppliers, arguing about anything and everything. The drives never seemed as long as they really were because there was never any silence or gap in the conversation.
Anyway...we were at this customer's facility and, I'll skip the boring details, the subject of Pi comes up in some calculation he's doing...Pi as in 3.141592654, not the fruity kind.
Mike was typing it into his calculator and saying the digits out loud. I couldn't help myself and mockingly asked him why the heck he felt he needed to calculate Pi out to 9 decimal places. You see, I do the exact same thing...9 places, not 8, not 10...9, but I'm still going to give him crap about it.
I casually mention that he's not calculating NASA flight capsule trajectories here and 3.14 is really good enough.  His response was "I know, that's just the way I do it."
Not wanting to let him off the hook I asked why he didn't take it out to 10 decimal places, and he said quite matter-of-factly "Are you serious? That'd be overkill."
That was kind of a watershed moment for us. I had never met anyone that had memorized Pi out to 9 decimal places, let alone actually use all of them in stupid calculations where 2 decimal places would be more than adequate. As a side note, this past March 14th (Pi Day) was kind of like a special anniversary for both of us.
Then there were those goat cook-offs we so faithfully attended for years. Every Labor Day weekend, Mike and I loaded up enough stuff to support a small army and drove down to Brady, Texas for the annual World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-off.  We were there for the friendships, the music, the food, and the beer. Our duties were making sure everyone got fed for breakfast, making sure we offered up a lot of unneeded meat-smoking tips, and making sure there was always music to listen to (both live and recorded). We let the professionals actually take care of the goat.
One year we were expecting quite a few friends that all like to jam around the campfire. Along with all the usual camping gear, I brought about four guitars and a couple amps instead of the usual one.  And even though Mike always gave me crap about this cheap Mexican Strat I have, I took it along with some of my good gear.  Well into the evening, it started to rain a little.  We packed up all the instruments, put them in their cases and put them in our tent.  Then the drizzle turned into a steady rain, the party broke up and we decided to ride out the night in what we thought would be a dry spot.  Pretty soon that little rain turned into what could best be described as a torrential downpour.  Thank God we had our sleeping bags up on cots that year, as all of the sudden, water started running through the tent.  I panicked because I had a few thousand dollars in guitars and amps that were about to get soaked.  Mike grabbed three guitars, including that old Mexican Strat he gave me so much crap about, and stacked them on his chest while laying flat on his back to keep them out of the water that was running through the bottom of the tent.  I grabbed the other guitar and my amps and stacked them around me to keep them as dry as possible.
A couple hours later, it was still pouring down and we were both laying there soaking wet, freezing our butts off, but holding my gear up out of the water and both of us just started laughing.  He looked at me and asked what I was laughing about.  My response, "Probably the same thing you are". He just said, "Yep...sure glad you didn't try to convince your princess to come this year either" (not that either of the girls ever wanted to make that trip anyway).  As miserable as we were at that moment, we must have laughed for a good 15 minutes.  His laugh was contagious.
That was a really long night, but there he was sacrificing any real comfort he might have been able to enjoy out of a horrible night, to keep those guitars (even that cheap Mexican Strat) safe and dry all night.  That was Mike.  Going above and beyond to do something for somebody else.
I could go on, but I won't.  It won't be the same walking into a circuit board shop without running into Mike and listening to him tell somebody in excruciating detail about one of our trips, or just sitting around arguing about the viability of some new technology, or debating the most soul stirring live music we had experienced. Mike truly loved supporting the local music scene. My vote was always Buddy's rendition of Zeppelin's What Is And What Should Never Be.  Mike could never decide on just one; he had 20 different favorites and was able to tell you the exact date and location of each performance. He had an amazing ability to remember details most of us would consider trivial; it was just one of his gifts.
Besides all of the good times, I'm going to miss him telling me he was "Living the dream" each time I'd call him.
His wife Terri and his daughters Melissa and Kristi lost a great dad.  As for his mother Sally, no mother should have to bury a son, especially just a few weeks after we said goodbye to Mike's Dad, Ken.
As for me, I lost a buddy...and until we meet again Mike Bennett, I will try to keep living that dream amigo.

My colleague Mike Bennett

I first met Mike Bennett in Texas in the early 1980's when suddenly I found myself with a San Jose CA and Texas sales territory while working for a specialty chemical company.  Quite a divergent set of techniques were required for both market places.  A few years later, Mike worked for the same chemical company as a regional manager.  This started a long friendship were Mike either worked in a board shop or as a sales person with complementary lines, or later represented my company.
We shared a love for Productronica in Munich every other year.  For a long string of shows we would meet and either have a "meter and a liter" or Sweinhaxen, or for the last 4 years, scheme to go to Munich.  At one of those shows, after Mike had started a rep firm, and he was selling competitive solder mask to Taiyo.  Prior to Circuit Automation, I was with the company that first imported Taiyo into North America, so having a background with Taiyo I formerly introduced him to Kodama-san and highly recommended that Taiyo consider him as a representative for the Southwest.  Of course the deal was consummated with the appropriate meal at the Haxnbauer house.   

Tom Meeker, President, Circuit Automation

You will be missed Mike

Every year I looked forward to walking up to our IPC Apex Expo booth and finding Mike sitting in one of our chairs with his arms folded and that contagious grin on his face. Anxious to tell another story, he'd go on about his awesome family who he loved dearlyor about friends which was always a hoot.

His kindness was blatantly obvious and his ability to build strong lasting relationships inspiring.  

I'm going to miss this fellow Texan as all of us will who were lucky enough to be called a friend. Godspeed Mike.

Melanie Wylie Binzel, Sls & Mktg Admin
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/
Boy Scouts of America http://www.scouting.org/
Or a charity of your choice.

Established 25 years ago TAIYO AMERICA, INC. is a subsidiary of TAIYO HOLDINGS CO., LTD., the world's leading manufacturer of specialty inks and solder masks for printed circuit boards. Taiyo offers conductive inks for manufacturing printed electronics, lighting & displays and other applications.
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