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Mystery Italian Sports Cars with Faiza Khan

In this Fireside Chat with the Xperts, we learn that the reach of the semiconductor shortage includes a famous (though unnamed) Italian sports car maker.  Hosts Dr. Bill Cardoso and David Kruidhof visit with IDEA’s Faiza Khan, and learn why a supercar manufacturer would reach out to her organization and how they can help.

IDEA (Independent Distributors of Electronics Association) was formed by a group of electronic component brokers to set standards for their industry and counter the damage caused by bad actors.  Their members set aside their competitive instincts to share best practices and establish standards that prevent counterfeit and substandard components from corrupting the supply chain.  Their hard work took what had been derided as the “gray market” and made it an important and trusted part of the semiconductor supply chain.

It’s no surprise then, when an exotic carmaker is having trouble navigating the secondary chip market, that they would seek support from Ms. Khan and her organization.  Because of their industry knowledge and extremely high standards, IDEA can help such companies connect with trusted sources for hard-to-find parts.  View the entire conversation to learn more about the component supply chain and the important work of IDEA.

For information on how Creative Electron helps component distributors avoid counterfeits, please reach out.  Register for upcoming Fireside Chats with the Xperts and view our archives here.

 

 

Transcript:

David Kruidhof:
All right. Welcome back to another Fireside Chat with the Xperts. I have Dr. Bill Cardoso here, and I think I’m the guest co-host at this point in time.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Have you been demoted to guest co-host now?

David Kruidhof:
Yeah, I guess so. It’s been a little while.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Is it official now?

Faiza Khan:
A good experiment.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah, but it’s good to be back, always fun chatting with our guests. Today we have a good, long-time friend, Faiza Khan, who’s the executive director of the IDEA, or Independent Distributors of Electronics Association. So for those who have been listening in or watching our chats, we’ve been obviously on the supply chain issue that’s hitting the world right now. And electronics is really at least one of the centers of this issue. So really happy to have you here, Faiza. Thanks for joining us.

Faiza Khan:
Good afternoon, thank you for having me. It’s definitely something we need to discuss at length.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah, absolutely. And we enjoy getting different perspectives on these conversations, because this is complicated, right? Not super simple.

Faiza Khan:
It definitely is. I must interject to say, I don’t know how many perspectives there are. It’s a simple don’t buy the wrong parts.

David Kruidhof:
Right.

Faiza Khan:
Don’t.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah, that’s important. So maybe you can give us a quick introduction of what IDEA helps with, and how they help people not buy the wrong part.

Faiza Khan:
OK. Absolutely. I will. So IDEA in a nutshell is a global trade organization, and it’s comprised of various independent distributors. I’ll give you background on how it started. 2003, a group of independent distributors talk to each other, complete competitors of each other. Direct competitors discussed and decided that, you know what? Our industry has a really bad name. There are a lot of bad players out there who are called brokers, independent distributors, whatever you want to call them. Second tier distributors, gray market. There’s so many names.

Faiza Khan:
We’re the good guys, we value quality, and we know a lot of information. I mean, they were seeing refurbs. At that time, the big deal was refurbs. We weren’t really into counterfeits at that point, but they said, you know, we have a lot of information, let’s pull it together. Let’s band together, let’s create a standard. Let’s discuss what we know about visually inspecting electronic components, let’s discuss red flags. Let’s teach people what they need to know, because not everyone’s buying from us. They’re buying from a lot of subpar companies. But if we teach them what to look for, I think as an industry, we’re all better off together.

Faiza Khan:
So these guys, to this day, they’re all direct competitors of each other, but they’ve put that on the back burner. They’re more interested in helping the industry at this point. And that’s why I love the organization. That’s why I joined, because the bigger focus is the industry. So what they put together was… I think everyone who’s in the industry should know it as IDEA-STD-1010. We’re on the revision B right now, we’re actually working on the C. And what that is, is a step-by-step, detailed instructions with a lot of pictures, teaching you how to visually inspect electronic components, and how to determine if something is suspect or not.

Faiza Khan:
And so what that really does is… A visual inspection, I would say, is the first step. Take a look at it visually, and then you can move on advanced inspection techniques like microscopes, like Dr. Cardoso will come up there, microscopes and decap, heated solvent testing. You can do the whole slew over there. And then next, if your customer requires it, or if you have red flags that you haven’t been able to stamp out, you can send it to actual advanced electrical testing. With that, if you follow those steps, you could pretty much determine if you’re sending a good part to your customer or not. There’s no reason to say, well, I wasn’t able to figure out if it was a bad part or not. That doesn’t really fly.

David Kruidhof:
Are there people out there who are running these kinds of tests that end up saying, I don’t really know? Are counterfeit components, or suspect components gotten to that point? That it’s that difficult to determine, or is that more laziness?

Faiza Khan:
I’m going to say companies that are not following these steps are the ones that may be sending suspect components out to their customers, because they’re missing one of those steps. They either didn’t do a thorough visual inspection, they didn’t go on to do advanced inspection, and they probably did not do any electrical testing or not. The thing is that not everyone has the resources to have something like, you know, the microscopes. I’m sure Dr. Cardoso can talk more about, you know, the expense on microscopes and XRF, and a lot of companies have S.A.M. Not everyone can spend all that money, but there are test labs that they can send them to. They can actually go ahead and get advanced inspection done through test labs. There’s really no excuse.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Especially today, the cost of getting counterfeits in your manufacturing, in your supply chain, it’s so high, right? Counterfeiters are getting sophisticated, and inspection the techniques, yeah, they add cost, but it’s insurance policy that you have to have. Otherwise, as Faiza knows well, it’s the excuse that I didn’t know, doesn’t fly anymore in the eye of law. Right? The counterfeit problem is well established, and well known in the industry. And as responsible distributors, the main one’s IDEA, you have to.

Faiza Khan:
IDEA members are very thoroughly vetted, and we have a lot of very stringent criteria that they need to follow, which is partially the reason we don’t have a lot of members. We have 29 members today. There are a lot of companies that are equally good for different reasons, they’ve chosen not to be IDEA members, but the bulk of the companies out there, they don’t meet the criteria. That’s why they’re not IDEA members. We have to have a certain insurance amount. They have to have certain training. They have to have certain facilities. They have to follow a lot of rules in order to remain an IDEA member. They’re annually audited. They have to follow ESD, JTAG, they have to follow a lot of different criteria. And most smaller brokers, they can’t afford that, and they don’t have that kind QMS in their company. So that’s why they’re not IDEA members. And that’s why IDEA members are held to a very high standard.

Faiza Khan:
What’re we’re working on right now… Sorry, I think I may have interrupted someone. I was just going to say, before visual inspection, there is a very important step, and that’s purchasing. Right? The first step is don’t bring in questionable product. Because, you know, you don’t want to throw all these things against the wall because, you know, who knows, somebody might miss it. Like David said, they might miss a step. So the first thing is to buy better. Dr. Cardoso, this is my first time I’m mentioning this, actually. So this is the news flash right here. We’re actually releasing a purchasing best practices document. We’re working on reviewing the document right now. The feedback I’m getting from… I let it out to a few industry experts just to take a look and see what they say. And words like, hey, this is fantastic. This is the perfect time for it. OEMs need this, other distributors even need this. I mean, that’s the feedback I’m getting.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
That’s awesome.

Faiza Khan:
So what that is going to be is a step-by-step, how do you vet out your suppliers? Right? Number one, don’t go on Google. I would like to add that too. Honestly I can’t. But it’s a very step-by-step guideline. How do you evaluate, and how do you continuously evaluate, right? Because just to do it once and then forget about it, that’s not good enough. You have to constantly keep evaluating your suppliers. So we’re working on reviewing it, getting board sign-off on it, and I’ll let you guys know when it’s ready for release.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
There’s also a great for self-evaluation, right? So you can do a self-test on your own company, and see if you pass those tests, right? As a supplier of components, for example.

Faiza Khan:
Well, all my IDEA members better pass that.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
I’m sure they will. I’m sure they will.

David Kruidhof:
Because this is an age old problem, right? This isn’t a new problem, but it’s new to a lot of industries, right? The military’s been dealing with this for, I don’t know, 30 years now?

Faiza Khan:
So long.

David Kruidhof:
They more or less know what they’re doing, right? That’s why you have so many members currently, but it seems like a lot of new industries are saying, hey, I can’t get parts. I’m going to go search on Google for a part number, and this guy says he has it, so I’ll just buy them because no one lies on the internet, right?

Faiza Khan:
That makes me cringe.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
It’s interesting. Because in the past, we have the memory crisis, remember? And we have memory chip shortages. That was very localized, and very…

Faiza Khan:
Contained. It was very contained, yeah.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Now, it’s widespread. And like David said, it’s like companies that never had an issue buying and finding parts now are for the first time looking online for… Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t have the education needed, right? To evaluate a new supplier, and even have the malice to understand that, hey, that’s a criminal that’s going to just take your cash. And if you get something… There’s a good chance you’re not going to get anything. But if you get something, it might be fake. So are you getting new calls then from new companies you never heard before? Never thought you’d hear from ever?

Faiza Khan:
Yes, absolutely. I actually got a call from a company just the other day. Like I was saying, I always talk about phone because that’s… It’s a sports car manufacturer in Italy. That’s all I’m going to say. But the only reason I’d heard about that company, I had never in my life expected that they would be calling us to buy the STD-1010. But when I get that kind of opportunity, kind of personality and kind of, you know, background, I have to have a conversation about it. Hey, this is great. This is a great first step, but please also follow these things because you need to be covered. You need to be really secure. Who are you buying from? What are they doing? How are you evaluating it when it comes in? And it was a long conversation. I was very happy to hear from them.

Faiza Khan:
After that, they’re actually getting some of their inspectors certified to our IDEA-ICE-3000 inspector certification. Now, that’s only offered to our IDEA members or to OEMs. And it’s a very difficult test to pass and it’s to your valid certification. And everybody passes that. And the reason is we’re testing you on knowledge and experience. We’re not having you train for a few hours, or even a few days, and then come and write the exam. You’re not going to pass. It’s a very, very tough evaluation. But at that point, if you even have one ICE-3000 inspector at your facility, you have that much more confidence. So just talking to people like that, I mean, medical companies. Aerospace and defense has always been familiar with IDEA. But we’re getting calls from a lot more facilities than we’ve ever heard from.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Yeah. And how does this current supply chain crisis, how does it feel different from previous issues we’ve had in the past? I mean, other than it’s widespread, we all have it. Are you having more people trying to join IDEA now? From where you see it in the supply chain, how is that change in your life?

Faiza Khan:
I’ll answer that question before I get into the rest of it. We’re having a lot more people claim they’re IDEA members.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Oh, that’s another problem.

Faiza Khan:
That’s a whole different problem, because the process to get IDEA certified is actually pretty long. And like I said, it’s intense. We are very tough in our evaluation. So I think companies, the subpar companies, are thinking, wow, we can’t meet these criterias, and we don’t have time. I’m just going to add a note to my website saying I’m IDEA certified. So I get emails and calls very often saying, hey, is this company really? Like, no, they’re not, I’ve never even heard of this company. So that is kind of the malice we’re running into. But the other thing is that-

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Before we move on, so if I want to know who the members, the 29 members are, I go to your website, which is… We’re going to put it in the comments here.

Faiza Khan:
Okay, sure. It’s I-D of E-A. So independent, so I-D, of E-A, dot org. We are a non-profit, so dot org.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
You go there, and you click on…

Faiza Khan:
Members.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Members. And all the companies there, all the IDEA members are going to be listed there, right?

Faiza Khan:
They’re all going to be listed there, yes. And you can always call me, my number’s right there. I’m always available. It’s a critical time, not just for us, but for the industry.

Faiza Khan:
Like you were asking, how is it different this time? And yes, it is on a wide scale. I think the internet, the presence of the internet has made it a lot more difficult.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
That’s a good point.

Faiza Khan:
In a way, because people are going and finding these really fancy websites and they’re falling for it. Oh, this company looks like they’re great because they have this really slick website, and they’re showing this part that I’m looking for. So yeah, it must be legit. And that’s causing a lot more problems than if we had the same widespread shortage a long time ago, because nobody would be able to just go out and find companies everywhere. So that’s that. And then parts search websites where somebody goes in, they’re all open to OEMs. They go in and they say, oh, this company shows 450,000 pieces of this part. And I always feel like, please, think about it. If this part is in such high demand and it’s shortened supply, why would this random company have 450,000 pieces?

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Exactly.

Faiza Khan:
Yeah. It’s a little frustrating.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
They’re on the market, Faiza. They bought every single component out there ahead of time.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah.

Faiza Khan:
Yeah, okay.

David Kruidhof:
They’re just scalpers.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Scalpers.

Faiza Khan:
If only. I need to control myself. I’m very passionate about this because I’ve been in this industry since way back when. It was literally my first job out of college, and I’ve been on the sales side, I’ve been on the purchasing side. So it frustrates me because I always wonder how did you not see that red flag? But then I have to remind myself that some of these people have never done it before. They’ve never been in this situation. So, yeah.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
So I think one of the methodologies that’s being challenged right now is just in time, right? And a lot of companies relied on a very tight supply chain. And in times like this, it’s interesting because then if you’re looking back at previous supply chain issues, problems happen, disruptions happen. And the people say, well, just in time, this doesn’t work. We have to change it. And because of cash issues they go back to just in time, or a version of it, and these problems keep repeating. right? Are we going to learn, Faiza, or two years from now, we’re going to go back to square zero and ready for the next interruption?

Faiza Khan:
I think so. Unfortunately, I think the cost is so big that after this fizzles out, a lot of companies are going to go back to where they were. Just in time’s great, we don’t have to pay for inventory management. This is good. We’re fine. Until the next thing hits. Yeah. Unfortunately, they will.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
We’ve heard politicians talk about the need to bring manufacturing of chips into the U.S. Is that feasible? Of course they are implying that we can solve this current crisis by manufacturing in the U.S., which we won’t. There’s not enough time and money in the world to make it happen for this specific COVID related crisis.

Faiza Khan:
Yeah.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Now, with your industry experience, do you think made in the U.S. is viable?

Faiza Khan:
It’s viable, sure. I can’t really say exactly how the process would work. That’s not really my realm of expertise. But along the same lines, I’m going to throw a curve ball at you.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Yeah.

Faiza Khan:
So I know that that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to bring back fabs here. We’re trying to. I think t’s 40 to 50% apparently is what comes from overseas. So that’s to mean we’re handcuffed there. But I get that we’re trying to bring it back domestically, but I was just watching, maybe you might have seen it as well, CNBC just the other day. And they had a really good, quick little video on Taiwan Semiconductor. And at the end of that, they said, oh, you know, America’s investing in 10 new fabs, but it’s also happening on the other continents. Asia’s investing in 55. And I was just thinking, wow, okay. So we’re investing in 10, and Asia’s investing in 55. So if you just think about it, where does that leave us? It leaves us right back where we are.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Exactly. Please, go ahead.

Faiza Khan:
I was going to say, did you get bored?

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
I pushed the wrong button. I was pushing the comment button and mistakenly pushed the pause. Yeah, so you’re saying about the inequality of investment that’s being made overseas and here.

Faiza Khan:
I mean, I feel like, like you said, do companies learn lessons? Not really. The government’s not really learning a lesson either, because by us saying, oh wow, we’re investing in 10 new fabs and Asia is investing in 55, we’re going to be right back where we are today. That 40, 50% that are being made overseas. That’s not going to change by adding 10 new fabs. Now, please don’t ask me how can we invest in 55? I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m just saying it’s something to take a look at.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Yeah. It’s not only building factories, right? You need to educate and hire the people who can work in those factors, right? And we already have massive shortage in technical expertise in the U.S. And so I don’t know about the visibility of getting this done in a short amount of time.

Faiza Khan:
Yeah. I mean, we need the training programs. We have the workforce, but we lack in the training, we’re lacking in the training programs. So I feel like it has to be an investment from all sides in different aspects of it. It can’t just be, hey, okay, we’re going to build the fabs. We’ll need people to run them, people who actually have the knowledge.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Yeah. Manufacturing day just happened a couple weeks ago, October 1st. And one of the reasons we celebrate manufacturing day is to hopefully promote to this new generation that manufacturing is that activity in the economy that actually generates value, right? And hopefully excite this new generation that there is a career that’s not via YouTuber, right? You can actually have a successful and fruitful career by making stuff, right? And right here in the U.S., here’s a place to do it. So it’s going to take a while. David, there was a question from Charles.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah. I thought this was an interesting question. And you kind of mentioned this earlier, Faiza, about distributors, right? And we have manufacturers make components, and they sell it to that direct distribution network, right? The big, big companies who just buy from the manufacturer directly and then sell it to different companies that are going to make something out of it.

Faiza Khan:
Right.

David Kruidhof:
But we do have this other group often called the gray market. It’s not the black market. They’re not definitely selling illegal stuff, but you don’t really know. So it kind of comes with this negative connotation, right?

Faiza Khan:
Yes.

David Kruidhof:
But as you’ve said, these distributors who are certified with your group, they’re going through a lot. They’re not a I don’t know kind of a place to buy.

Faiza Khan:
Oh, no way.

David Kruidhof:
So maybe you can comment on that a little bit. And knowing, understanding the supply chain as a whole, right? There’s quite a few different players in this distribution…

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
And how important they are, right?

Faiza Khan:
There are a lot of different- Yeah. There are a lot of different players, but I mean, we have very strict guidelines to what qualifies you to be an IDEA member that does separate our members from another distributor who may be good. They may value quality, yes. But you know, they may not put such a focus on, like, a counterfeit product control policy. That’s something we’re big on. All of our distributors need to have a counterfeit product control policy. They have to have quality objectives. They have to have guidelines for selecting and monitoring their suppliers. I mean, that’s something we’ve been doing for years and years. I’m sure a lot of companies are working on those policies today because of how the market’s been. But for us, it’s a no brainer. It’s always been there. That’s how we objectively qualify our companies. So when I get a call from, you know, an Italian sports car manufacturer… I’m going to keep showing that off because that was really cool.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
We all know you drive one every day, so that’s fine.

Faiza Khan:
You know, I told them, I said, you know, your AVL most likely consists of just franchise distributors because that’s who you’ve buying from. I’ll help you vet out companies that you may be considering buying from. Or, if you don’t have any that you’re taking a look at, here’s a list of my IDEA members. I mean, I will stand behind them on every single thing that they provide to you because they’re annually audited, I know exactly what their focus is. And they appreciated that. I’m pretty sure I’ll hear back from them. Or, they’ll probably send me a couple of names. And I mean, we serve the industry. I don’t just serve my IDEA members, I also serve the industry. So I will give it an objective evaluation, non-biased. Like, yeah, this company is great, I’m familiar with them. Heard of them for the last 20 years. So yeah, go for it, buy from them. Don’t go out and purchase this by yourselves. Send it to their test lab, get them to evaluate it. And then get it onto your dock.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
That’s a powerful thing that 1010 allows you to do. You have minimal steps that your incoming inspectors have to do. That I doubt they do today because if you just buy it from authorized franchise, you should do anyway. Every time you’re bringing stuff into your manufacturing facility, you should be checked. And 1010 is the step one, right?

Faiza Khan:
Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Because we all know the reports and you heard about that because of RMAs, counterfeits sometimes get into authorized franchise. It’s not a secret.

Faiza Khan:
Yeah.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
And so chances are that you are getting authentic components from authorized franchise. No question about it. But the chance of getting counterfeit is not zero, right? So having that counterfeit mitigation program is critical, no matter who you buy from, right? And in a situation like this, if you had one already it would make your life much easier than trying to change the tires on the car driving 100 miles an hour down the highway, right?

Faiza Khan:
Yeah.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Gets a little more complicated, yeah.

Faiza Khan:
It definitely does. So the 1010-C that we’re working on is actually… I wish we were working on it a little faster than we are today, but all of our members who are obviously the primary contributors on this are extremely busy. You know, they’re working 18 hour shifts, they’re working weekends. They’re obviously extremely busy, but when we get done with the 1010-C, it’s going to be fantastic because it’s going to cover not only the basic visual inspection which we have today in the 1010-B, it’s going to take into account a lot of the advanced inspection as well. And Dr. Cardoso, that’s what I was hoping you would be with us to understand exactly how the microscopes play a really critical role.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
X-rays. X-rays.

Faiza Khan:
X-rays, sorry. Not microscopes.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Like microscopes, but really big microscopes.

Faiza Khan:
X-rays. I’ve been saying that. Yeah, sorry. Yeah. X-rays play such a huge role in advanced inspection techniques.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
We definitely will participate like we’ve done with the B version, and we’ll collaborate again. Yeah. As a matter of fact, we just had a meeting with one of your members, and we’re going to get into that. Provide you guys with lots of images, lot of case studies. Because counterfeiters are creative, very creative. But we’re creative too.

Faiza Khan:
Exactly. We have the right people on the right side.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Awesome. Anything else, David? We’re out of time.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah, I think we’re just about out of time. But we have our standard question that you like to stick with. It’s always very interesting.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
I know. You know, with Faiza, it feels like I’ve been talking to her for one minute, you know?

David Kruidhof:
Yeah. Do you still want to ask it? I think we can go a little over.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Well, you should ask it.

David Kruidhof:
Okay. So a question we always like to ask at the end, going off topic so to speak, but if you were 20 years old again, would you pick the same career, profession or something else? Knowing what you know now, you’ve got all your knowledge back to when you were 20, what direction would you head in?

Faiza Khan:
I probably want, knowing what I know now, I’d probably want to go into what Dr. Cardoso was kind of hinting at. Make something. Make some components, learn the trade. Actually create something. So yeah, it would definitely be different to where I am today. But my first job out of college was buying and selling components to OEMs. I learned about the supply chain in and out.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Wow. You know the industry very well, yes.

Faiza Khan:
But I’d like to make them. If I had that choice again, I’d like to make them. But no, I would not. I thought for a second, I would not choose to be a blogger or YouTuber. Not happening, not here.

David Kruidhof:
Well, we’ve been doing this show for over a year and a half, and I think we’re still not at 10 million subscribers yet.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
I’m telling David, what he has to do is do unboxing of stuff at Target. That’s where the money is, David.

David Kruidhof:
Just walk into Target and start opening containers.

Faiza Khan:
I guess so.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
That’s what people do. Yeah.

Faiza Khan:
Have Charles drive in with you with his big X-ray truck.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Well, Charles would ride the escape bicycle out of the-

David Kruidhof:
There you go. He’ll be in the parking lot, engine running.

Faiza Khan:
You’ll get a lot more subscribers. Definitely.

David Kruidhof:
For sure. All right. Thank you, Faiza. Really appreciate your time. Thanks for joining us.

Faiza Khan:
I appreciate you guys having me. Thank you.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Thank you, Faiza.

Faiza Khan:
And Dr. Cardoso, I’ll hit you up for when we’re ready for advanced inspection. We’re almost there, actually.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
I look forward to it.

Faiza Khan:
We’re done with the preliminary, so we’ll be there.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Awesome.

David Kruidhof:
Perfect.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
All right, take care.

Dr. Bill Cardoso:
Thank you, bye-bye.

David Kruidhof:
All right, thank you.

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