Navigating the Current Supply Chain


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Robb Engle, executive VP of Sono-Tek, and I discuss what the company has seen as far as supply chain challenges and changes to respond to in the past few months in response to COVID-19 and its related effects.

Nolan Johnson: Robb, what is Sono-Tek’s business, and what is your role with the company?

Robb Engle: Sono-Tek is the originator of ultrasonic atomizers. Based on that proprietary technology, we build turnkey coating systems around that technology and sell and service them to many different industries around the world: electronics, semiconductor, medical, a lot of high tech research, defense contracts, and anything that you can imagine where a thin repeatable coating that is expensive or a high amount of reliability is warranted. The company was founded in 1973 based on the original inventor of the ultrasonic atomizer and spray nozzle. The company bounced around on grants for a number of years until it started breaking into the medical field, specifically with putting anticoagulant coatings inside blood collection tubes.

Then AT&T came to Sono-Tek in the very late 1980s as a result of the problems with the ozone layer and how it related to the electronics manufacturing industry. Sono-Tek was chosen to see if we could lead the industry in applying no-clean spray fluxes onto PCBs for high-volume manufacturing, and we excelled at that during the initial testing; for a while, the company focused on the spray fluxing electronics business. But in 2000, we learned that you don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket because it was a pretty bad downturn in the electronics business that coincided with the end of the Y2K scare and the meltdown of the dot-com bust. Sono-Tek was able to survive that, and then we got highly diversified. Now we serve many industries, and we serve around the world.

I joined the company in 2000 after my service to my country was completed with the U.S. Navy. I was a nuclear engineer on a fast attack submarine, and when I met Dr. Berger, I was fascinated with his mind and the way he was able to create equations out of thin air to solve problems for our customers, we have always provided unique solutions; he surrounded himself with a team of people that thrived in that environment. We still have many members of the original team that he put together. We have a close core of highly-engaged individuals in the company, which is one of the reasons for our success.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the June 2020 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.

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