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At the recent Dallas SMTA Expo and Tech Forum, I spoke with many of the 100 exhibitors who dotted the exhibit floor. David Thomas, an IPC master instructor at EPTAC, was running the training company’s booth there. I asked him to update me on EPTAC’s latest efforts and to discuss the value of exhibiting at local events like this one.
Andy Shaughnessy: Nice to meet you, David. Tell me about what EPTAC’s role is here. You live locally, don’t you?
David Thomas: I live in Paris, Texas, so I’m about as local to Dallas as you can get. Right now, EPTAC is working to broaden its our training areas. We held some training in Richardson, Texas, several years ago, but that slacked off, so now we’re trying to reestablish our footing in training here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, as well as in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and pretty much anywhere in Texas. This is our first SMTA show in this area in a while. We wanted to see if having a booth would help us draw more interest in this area.
Shaughnessy: Many exhibitors will be at the Houston show in a couple of days. Is EPTAC doing the same thing?
Thomas: I will be at the Houston show and knock on a few doors down there. We want to set up some brick-and-mortar locations, in addition to our onsite trainings. Next week, I’m conducting some training at a neutral location in Florida.
Shaughnessy: What is your expertise?
Thomas: I train to J-STD-001, IPC-A-610, 620, IPC-7711 hand soldering, and the advanced hand soldering that we’re developing right now. I also teach J-STD-001 Space, counterfeit, and electrostatic discharge (ESD). I cover a broad range of topics.
Shaughnessy: I know EPTAC is constantly expanding their services. What’s next?
Thomas: We are growing significantly. We’re currently training at least three new instructors due to demand. Depending on what people want, there are times when it can take two or three months before we can get something arranged on a given subject matter. We’re expanding into skills such as advanced hand soldering, which we need to beef up to meet some of the new requirements, particularly on the smaller component-type items that are out now.
Shaughnessy: There’s a definite need for instruction. Why do you think that’s the case?
Thomas: There are a lot of retirement and other shifts in the workforce. There’s also a lot of development in our training. We conduct training at some big aerospace companies. In California, I’ve trained at an autonomous car company and at U.S. Space Force. As things develop and grow, we’re looking to conduct training at some aeronautics and aerospace equipment companies as well.
Shaughnessy: How long have you been with the company?
Thomas: I’ve been with EPTAC for five years. I’ve been doing their training for more than 12 years, first as an in-house trainer and then on the training side. I left my position as a production manager at a small company in Louisville, Kentucky, and began trainings others on the road.
Shaughnessy: It sounds like you really enjoy your work.
Thomas: I do. Some of our training has changed with COVID and certification requirements. We developed Zoom online training, especially for things like IPC/WHMA-A-620 that doesn’t have a hands-on component. I spend half my time training from my basement. I’ve trained people who are in Hong Kong, Australia, Newfoundland, California, Nebraska, and more. You don’t have to come to us in person. My wife also works for EPTAC. She gets to work upstairs, while I’m in the basement (laughs). But it works great for us.
Shaughnessy: Thanks for speaking with me, David.
Thomas: Thank you, Andy.