Frank Nichols

Mr. Nichols brings 51 years of complex manufacturing and leadership experience in the aerospace, unmanned systems, military, and medical device markets. 


Mr. Nichols operates True North Strategies as a consultant as an executive leadership coach, mentor, and strategist.  He developed an Executive Leadership program providing education, strategy, and techniques on becoming a “Level 5” organizational leader.


Mr. Nichols founded and was CEO of SFE as a “green field” start-up in 1998 until the company sale in 2021.  The company prospered and grew to $20M US in sales and nearly $30M of order book when sold.  SFE provided leading edge electronic manufacturing services (EMS) to small to medium-sized technology firms and the Department of Defense, aerospace, unmanned systems, and medical device Original Equipment Manufacturers.


From 1987 to 1999, his consulting company, Orion Services, provided marketing, management, and engineering support to a multitude of DoD and DoE prime contractors.  His support roles included Director of Operations (electronics), Marketing Manager (metallurgy), Site Director (military armored vehicle shielding), Quality Manager (X-Ray systems), and good old fashion engineer (quality engineering, explosives testing and electronics production) on projects including weapons systems development, lethality and warhead development, fuzing systems, microelectronics development, aerospace electronics production and electronic weapons system components production.


Between 1984 and 1986, Mr. Nichols lead a team as Government Systems Program Manager at Eaton-Kenway Automation for development and installation of automated storage and retrieval systems.  The processes included software development and manufacturing of robotic devices for use within US Army logistics centers and IBM, Owego NY manufacturing center for Navy electronics production.


Between 1981 and 1984, Mr. Nichols was a program manager developing “insensitive” explosives and conventional explosives for ordnance.  His projects were the Standard Missile (SM-2), AIM-9 series warhead, 5-inch/54 projectiles, and pyrotechnic separation systems for the Minute Man Missile systems.


Between 1972 and 1981, Mr. Nichols was a quality engineer and systems engineer for Navy and Air Force missile weapons systems.  He managed quality issue resolutions at contractors like Ford Aerospace, General Dynamics, McDonnell Douglas, Hughes, Bulova, etc.  As a systems engineer he was responsible for developing the systems’ performance specifications and managing the configuration development and control for the Cruise Missile Systems in a joint Air Force and Navy development program.




Between 2015 and 2019, Mr. Nichols completed all but his dissertation for his DBA in International Business at Walden University (interrupted by the sale of SFE and Covid-19).  In 1992, he earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix, San Diego.  His earned a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from California State University, Fresno, in 1972. 

Mr. Nichols is an accomplished Professional Photographers of America (Master’s Degree) wildlife and landscape photographer and is a private pilot (not current).  

Award winner of Pacific Northwest Aviation Alliance (PNAA) Executive of the Year, Co-Chair for the Center for Excellence for Aerospace Manufacturing (WA), board member of the PNAA, board member of the Columbia River (WA) Economic Development Council, board member Cascade Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, Int’l.

  • Board Member, Pacific Northwest Aviation Alliance (PNAA)
  • Board Member, Columbia River (WA) Economic Development
  • Board Member, Cascade Chapter of the Association for Unmanned
    Vehicle Systems, Int’l.