Juan Arango on Koh Young’s New U.S. Headquarters


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At the recent Koh Young America open house, Managing Director Juan Arango discussed his role in the company’s transition from their Arizona facility to a new headquarters located outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Juan details many of the benefits customers can expect, including brand new spaces dedicated to machine demonstrations as well as customer training.

Andy Shaughnessy: We’re here at the Koh Young grand opening in Gwinnett County, and it’s pretty exciting. You’re opening a brand-new facility. Tell us a little bit about how you reached this point.

Juan Arango: When I first took over as the managing director, I asked Dr. Koh if we could move the corporate headquarters from Arizona to Georgia. I gave him some strong business reasons why, such as the fact 70% of our customers are east of the Mississippi. He agreed it was a good decision and gave me the go-ahead.

During the process, we opened a new artificial intelligence (AI) center in San Diego called Koh Young Research America (KYRA), so there was an idea to make San Diego our only location. My suggestion to Dr. Koh was to have two offices: one in San Diego and a second in Atlanta, so he gave me his second blessing to continue pursuing a space in Georgia.

We were ready to sign a lease for our first location when the realtor went dark; the facility was being sold to another company, and they weren’t negotiating. Rather than waiting, we searched again and found this location. As the saying goes, “Everything takes longer than planned,” and it did here. My original plan was to unveil the new facility in December, but that didn’t happen. Nonetheless, we moved forward and are proud to host our guests at this grand opening event.

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At that time, we had some great people who helped reduce the timeline and make everything happen. My wife helped with the décor by picking fabrics, accent wall colors, artwork, etc., and she loved it. Then, we gave our choices to Dana Anderson at Planning Interiors Inc. who incorporated our corporate green and blue colors and finished the facility design.

Shaughnessy: How are things going for the company now that you’re in the new office?

Arango: We’re doing well. With solder paste inspection (SPI), we have over 50% of the market; second place has 12%. We’re the market leader. With automated optical inspection (AOI), we have 30–32% of the market; second place has around 25%, which is tight.

Shaughnessy: AOI is rough; there are a lot of people swimming in that pond.

Arango: Correct, but we have some clear advantages over the competitors. Many AOI suppliers will sell 2D and 3D or a blend to make a “2.5D” technology, but we only sell 3D; it’s our core competency and the driver behind everything we do to measure and optimize the process. With a focus on our True 3D technology, the industry recognizes the benefits, as our market share proves.

Shaughnessy: From this location, what market are you mainly working with?

Arango: This new facility is the headquarters for the Americas. For us, Mexico and South America represent about 50% of our market with Canada and the United States being the other half. Last year, we sold 402 machines in the Americas with about 200 from one side and 202 from the other side of the border. The challenge is that Mexico is a high-volume environment that buys machines in bulk quantities while the U.S. is predominately a high-mix environment where manufacturers mostly order one machine at a time.

In the U.S., 200 machine sales would need 150–175 customers. Meanwhile, in Mexico, 200 machine sales would require fewer customers because they order multiple machines at a time. For instance, we received one order in Mexico for 17 machines. We call the sales “onesies” or “twosies” in the U.S. These days, onesies don’t move our growth needle. We have grown so much over the years that percentage growth isn’t a real indicator of our growth; more on that later.

When I started with Koh Young America, we were under $15 million; last year, we did well over $50 million. At Koh Young America, we’ve been blessed to put a great team together – in all facets. For example, this is the second time I’ve hired Brent Fischthal. First, I hired him for Panasonic. When I left, I knew I would need him here at Koh Young; it was just a matter of timing.

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Shaughnessy: He’s outstanding. Everyone says, “Talk to Brent.”

Arango: Right. He makes sure we put out clear facts. For example, in an interview about our 2019 performance, I said, “We sold 402 machines. Ask my competitors what they sold.” The chances are that they will give a percentage of growth and not a straight number.

Shaughnessy: A lot of people won’t say how many; instead, they’ll say, “We went up this X% this year.”

Arango: Right. Because if you go from selling four to six machines, that’s 50% growth. And many of the suppliers don’t move the same volume of equipment as Koh Young.

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