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If you’re a supplier to EMS companies, you can’t beat the local SMTA chapter expos that are spaced throughout the year. I think this would be especially true if you were looking to market your products in that region. Attendees are treated to at least two technical presentations, an exhibit of tabletop presentations by the suppliers, and a free lunch—you can’t beat that! I met with a couple of the officers while at the recent Ohio Valley Expo: Greg Vance with Rockwell Automation and Brett Crane with Bird Electronic Corporation.
Patty Goldman: Greg and Brett, you’re both officers with the SMTA Ohio Valley chapter. Brett, what is your role?
Brett Crane: My role and responsibility is serving as president.
Goldman: You get to tell everybody else what to do!
Vance: Yeah, he’s the Grand Poo-bah.
Goldman: And Greg, you’re the treasurer?
Vance: That’s correct.
Goldman: Excellent. Tell us little bit about your SMTA chapter goings-on today.
Vance: Today, we have our chapter expo, which I don't know for how long this has been running, but the event has grown over the years. We're in a new venue today, 10,000 square feet with about 90 different vendors represented from throughout the industry—all different aspects. We have invited our local chapter members throughout the state and neighboring states, like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, to come and join us and spend some time talking and learning about technologies that can help solve their problems, make them operate more efficiently with better productivity, better quality and spend some time making some friends in the industry.
Goldman: You've asked other chapters to come here and join with this one?
Crane: Yes. What we do is we like to contact everybody within the industry, whether you're a member of the association or not and whether you’re technology-based or purchasing-based. What we want to do is get people in the industry here at this venue and put them in front of the technology and teach them. Our goal is to share knowledge, being that we’re technology-based. The industry is constantly changing. That's our agenda as officers of this chapter, to go out and bring that information to everyone in the area, and one of the ways of doing it is having an expo like this where we're able to put 90+ vendors in front of the users in the industry.
Goldman: How is your attendance?
Vance: Very good. We traditionally gather anywhere from 110−130 attendees at out event and this year I believe we're within that range as well. The other aspect of the expo, in addition to the vendors, is the technical sessions.
Goldman: I was just going to ask what your technical session is.
Vance: We have two scheduled for today. We had Mitch Holtzer from Alpha Assembly Technologies talk about understanding how you test for ionic contamination and the changes to the standards associated with that. Ionic contamination is important in managing dendrite growth on electronic assembly boards. The fluxes and the chemistries in the solder pastes may promote dendrite growth over others. Mitch talked to us about how you characterize that growth so the attendees are aware of that and they can consider that as they're selecting their chemistries.
Then, this afternoon, I'm really looking forward to this particular technical session. We're going to have Lorain County Community College, which is a local community college here in Northeast Ohio that as a chapter we collaborate with. They have a student SMTA chapter out of that organization, but they have a program where they're trying to train advanced operators and technicians in the electronic assembly industry. As the industry grows, it expands. Unfortunately, we're not as individuals getting any younger. We need trained individuals to come into the industry and that's always been one of the challenges.
So they have a work/share program where students spend time working at a manufacturing location a portion of the week and then the other portion of the week they are in school studying different aspects of process. It's going to be a well-rounded curriculum as far as all aspects of it. It will be presented by Courtney Tenover and Johnny Vanderford from Lorain County Community College and they will be talking about talent development strategies. We are excited to have a really great program this year.
Goldman: Excellent. It really does sound like a great program. This is only one day, though. There is no tomorrow, am I right?
Crane: That’s right. As a chapter, we do one expo where we bring all the vendors into one area. Now, throughout the year we get feedback from our members as to what they're needs are in their specific environment of manufacturing and we will host meetings throughout the year where we bring in speakers and educators—three to five meetings a year.
Goldman: That's nice. In addition to your monthly meetings, do you mean or do you not have monthly meetings?
Vance: No, we don't have monthly meetings. We have, like Brett said, three to five planned events. They tend to occur at a manufacturer somewhere in the state of Ohio. We try to co-locate and partner with a manufacturer or a college and then we invite people in to talk on the topic and share that information at our meetings. We'll have anywhere from 40–80 attendees so we're very well represented and our chapter membership right now is around 140, so that's pretty strong participation.
Goldman: Yes, that is. Is there good company participation, also?
Crane: Absolutely, from our corporate members, yes. Excellent support from the industry.
Vance: We have 21 corporate members within our chapter. It's been a chapter that has been very stable and growing over the years.
Crane: I think that a lot of it comes into the leadership team. We have seven members on our leadership team focusing on communication, technical programs as well as managing the chapter itself and its structure.
Goldman: It's all volunteer?
Crane: Yes, we’re all volunteers.
Goldman: Of course. It's another thing our industry is big on: volunteers!
Vance: It's fun to get involved because you're really learning. You have a strong network of professionals and friends that you can lean on when you have challenges that you're working through, in the industry so that you can bounce ideas off the people. That's the other aspect of being involved in chapter leadership—the membership. You get to meet them and develop those relationships as well so you get that sharing aspect of the industry which has always been strong in the SMTA community.
Crane: Absolutely. The mentorship of the folks that are involved. Everybody wants to share and educate. If you come into problem, somebody is always open to help.
Goldman: Somebody's got an answer or at least they can help, right? That's great. Well, thank you so much. Will you both be at the SMTAI in September?
Vance: I will be; that’s my favorite show.
Crane: I am tentative.
Goldman: Everybody likes that one. Okay. I'll see you then, I hope.
Crane: Thank you for coming today.
Goldman: Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here.