It’s not just automotive and medical devices for which capital equipment manufacturers like BTU International are finding a market. It’s also not just domestic. Bob Bouchard says his company has seen an uptick in sales after the pandemic into more “purpose-built” equipment with sophisticated requirements and very tight process control. It’s meant an increase in sales staff as well. It’s encouraging news ahead of BTU International’s exhibit at SMTA International next week.
Nolan Johnson: Hi, Nolan Johnson here for I-Connect007. Right now, I’m speaking with Bob Bouchard. He is the director of sales and marketing at BTU International, which is an Amtech Group subsidiary. Bob, welcome.
Bob Bouchard: Thanks, Nolan. Great to be here.
Johnson: As we were setting up to have this conversation, we were talking just a little bit about what you’re seeing for trends and drivers in U.S. domestic business this year. Catch us up.
Bouchard: We’ve been seeing quite an uplift and a robust amount of business that that’s come about here over the past couple of years coming out of the pandemic; it’s both domestic, but we’re also seeing, generally speaking, overall, in the overall Americas, we’ve seen some very good business come back.
What we’re seeing is a lot of the drivers behind that, we’re seeing some reshoring and onshoring changes. We see that in both our electronics assembly, meaning SMT assembly, and our semiconductor applications as well. There’s some very interesting work going on there that we’re seeing for reshoring and onshoring.
We’re also seeing a lot of drivers from the EV market, so that’s the automotive side of things, which touches many of our products. We’re seeing quite a bit of activity there, so anything from applications such as braising metals and a variety of other things that EV drives. That’s been an interesting trend as well.
We’re also seeing that customers have applications and requirements that really play into our strengths. If they’ve got sophisticated requirements, very tight process control that, again, plays into the strengths of our equipment, which has been the case, then we’re certainly a number one choice for that.
Other areas that have been driving automotive would be LED lighting, We’re also seeing quite a bit of activity in LED lighting, some medical applications, and some interesting applications for our high temperature business here in the U.S. is, separate from electronics assembly, but it’s metals braising. For example, centering, direct bond copper, drying applications, annealing applications, just a whole variety of applications that have started to take hold here and rebuild in the U.S.
Johnson: Bob, am I correct in hearing, from what you just said, that you have applications, new markets that are opening for your products? Obviously, you’ve already mentioned outside of electronics. Is that an area that’s growing more for you?
Bouchard: Electronics certainly is a larger part of our business. Globally, it’s a larger part of our business. In the Americas, it’s more split in terms of the type of business that we see here between electronics and some of the more custom applications.
Those applications are really around purpose-built equipment, so it’s difficult to predict exactly what you’re going to see, so to speak. It could be an OEM that’s invented something new, which, again, can open a new market for you, a new application where this purpose-built equipment is actually built for. So that’s how it happens.
Johnson: How does that impact your approach to sales, marketing, product development, etc.?
Bouchard: Due to the amount of activity that we’ve seen here, we’ve actually had to expand our sales and marketing team to accommodate some of this, to give our customers better customer service. Our sales model is a very traditional approach for this industry. We use direct sales, regional sales managers with manufacturers, representatives, and distributors.
And so the expansion there has basically happened, in that with the amount of business and the areas that we need to grow into, we’ve expanded the team. In January, we brought on board a regional sales manager that’s located on the west coast covering Mexico, on the west coast in parts of Central America. Just recently in September, we brought on another regional sales manager to cover central USA and Canada. The third leg of that stool currently is the east coast of the USA and South America.
That gives us the ability now to better serve our manufacturers, representatives, because we’ve got more bandwidth to do that and also look to come up with strategies to grow certain areas or territories. One in particular is Mexico. Mexico has been a great growth opportunity for all of us capital equipment manufacturers. This allows us to have a regional sales manager dedicated on strategy for that particular area.
Johnson: Well, that is exciting news, especially for your customers who are in those geographic regions.
Johnson: Bob, thanks for taking the time to get us updated on BTU International and what’s happening with you. I very much appreciate your time.
Bouchard: Thanks very much. Thanks for having me.