Koh Young Opens New North American Facility
Koh Young America recently opened its new corporate headquarters for the Americas outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I attended the open house and spoke with Joel Scutchfield, director of sales for the Americas, about the state-of-the-art facility and the benefits of relocating to the East Coast.
Andy Shaughnessy: I’m here at the Koh Young America open house for their new facility in Gwinnett County. Joel, tell us about this facility.
Joel Scutchfield: Absolutely, Andy. We’re incredibly happy to have you here today and have the opportunity to talk with you. For some time now, we’ve been planning for what we consider to be the next leap forward in improving the overall customer experience that we can offer. Our complete focus is on serving our customers in a much more aggressive, efficient, and all-encompassing way. To improve the customer experience, we needed a facility that allowed us to bring all the right people together from a collaboration perspective and have all of the right tools and systems in one place to provide training, demonstrations, and research for customer projects and applications. Now, we can better test new hardware, software, and special applications our customers bring us. Then, we can supply definitive results before installing a system on their floor.
Again, this facility is all about improving the customer experience for our customers and prospects. And from that, we feel that both our business and their business will grow, which is the key driver. We’re taking the approach of fostering happy customers for life, which is the whole edict behind our celebration today, and what we’ve achieved by opening this facility. It has been a lot of work to get to this point, but looking around today, it’s impressive. It’s an ultramodern facility, and we’re not even finished yet. We have a lot of ideas we still want to implement, plus processes and procedures in the way that we train and how we can best use the demonstration room. We want to help the customer and ensure when they leave here, they’re good to go. We want them to be power users of our systems and software that will enable them to drive their business forward.
Shaughnessy: You have the machines set up. How many machines do you have here?
Scutchfield: Currently, we have 10 machines installed in our demo room plus two in our training rooms, which represents various technologies that we serve, but we have room for about 15 fully outfitted. There have been discussions about bringing a system in from one of our pick-and-place partners to continue to evolve and develop the mount feedback initiative. We’re taking information from our pre-reflow AOI system and feeding that to the mounter for identification of anomalies with things like feeders, spindles, nozzles, etc., which all lead back to the self-correcting, self-healing line. There are lots of opportunities with that, and our facility allows us the space to do that and more.
Shaughnessy: So, it’s also for training. You could train customers, but if you have new people come on board, you can train them.
Scutchfield: Right, we have the demo area, plus separate training rooms for both SPI and AOI. Training is important to complement the demo and process verification initiatives, as I mentioned earlier. I sat in one of the other sessions here earlier in the day with a large group of our visiting customers. Training was one of the things I wanted to emphasize to them. We are making a concerted push to step up the capabilities of all our service and application team members by cross-training them to ensure we’re running a closed-loop system when it comes to how we execute our internal training. We want everyone to be well-trained and fresh as new systems and software are released. We also want to provide information to our customers on all aspects of new software, features, and even systems before they’re released into the field. Our field service engineers do a lot of field training. When a customer buys a machine, the field service engineers typically do the first round of training on the customer’s floor. So, we want to make sure they have been trained to our rigorous standards, including how to “train” someone properly, so it’s not all technical.
Shaughnessy: You’re training the trainer.
Scutchfield: Yes. We want them to be able to deliver that message effectively, which we can do better with our new facility; these are the kind of things that we’re extremely excited about, which was harder to do previously.
Shaughnessy: Juan Arango [managing director at Koh Young America] was saying that 70% of the business is on the East Coast, so when the facility was in Arizona, you’d lose a day with travel.
Scutchfield: That’s what makes this location perfect for many reasons.
Shaughnessy: And it’s close to the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
Scutchfield: Exactly. We have a very accessible airport, as well as a lot of industry peers here, so when customers come into town to see one supplier, they can see multiple. It also gives us collaborative and synergetic opportunities with those peers. Also, the Duluth area here has the third-largest Korean-speaking population in the country and outstanding technical institutions like the Georgia Institute of Technology for internships and access to young talent.
Shaughnessy: What was in this location before?
Scutchfield: I’m not sure of the specifics. There were some walls and the general space you see today, but overall, it was empty. We just had to close our eyes and envision what we could do with the space. As we walked through the different areas, we saw conference rooms and office spaces, and a great space for the demo center and training rooms, and that’s exactly what happened. Everything came together very well, and the finishing is top-notch. It’s a world-class facility, and it’s only going to get better. We’re going to include more features and technologies as we go forward to make sure we continue to be the industry-leading facility.
Shaughnessy: Do other Koh Young facilities have facilities like this too, including training centers?
Scutchfield: Most Koh Young facilities have the same elements. Part of the opportunity here is to be able to collaborate not only with partners outside of Koh Young but also internally with our branch offices around the globe on customer-specific needs, and how we do what we do as a global company. Some of our sales managers and other employees visit other branch offices, including in Europe and Southeast Asia, to get ideas for how we wanted to align things here, and that was beneficial. We all pull from the same end of the rope.
Shaughnessy: It definitely seems like a home run for you. I’m glad you’re here because I’m local.
Scutchfield: I was down here last week with my wife, doing a little house hunting. We’re that hoping by late spring or early summer of 2020, we’ll be your neighbor.
Shaughnessy: Thanks for taking the time to talk about this new facility.
Scutchfield: It’s my pleasure, Andy. Stop in and say hello anytime you’re in the neighborhood.