EMSNOW Executive Interview: Ramon Hernandez, Koh Young America and Luis Tapia, Repstronics
EMSNOW Publisher Eric Miscoll caught up with Koh Young’s Ramon Hernandez and Luis Tapia from Repstronics at the recent SMTA Guadalajara Expo show and talked to them about their remarkably successful relationship in Mexico. Repstronics presented Koh Young with an award celebrating their 20-year anniversary.
EMSNOW: I am here on the show floor at the SMTA Guadalajara Expo with Ramon Hernandez, Head of Sales & Service for Mexico and South America at Koh Young America and Luis Tapia, Sales Director at Repstronics. We are here to talk about the 7-year relationship between these two organizations. Repstronics is a manufacturers’ rep firm with a nearly 20-year history of providing technology to the electronics industry in Mexico and Central America. Koh Young is the premier provider of measurement-based 3D inspection systems.
Luis: Today, we are recognizing Koh Young for 20-years of excellence in research and development and contributions to the industry. We appreciate them and want them to continue this influence on electronics manufacturing. We look forward to continuing this relationship.
Ramon: We have been working with Repstronics for seven years and value the relationship between our organizations very much. Repstronics provides great customer support for Koh Young. In particular, their training and demonstration labs in Guadalajara, Juarez, and Monterrey are helping to grow our business. We appreciate all their effort and this recognition for our 20-year anniversary
EMSNOW: Let’s hear more about the relationship between Repstronics and Koh Young. Tell me about some of the wins and milestones in the 7-year relationship.
Ramon: Throughout the years, we have had many great wins, especially with accounts we had been targeting for several years. There are some Japanese accounts, for example, that are difficult to penetrate. Together, we’ve been able to convert accounts to Koh Young, even when their corporate headquarters and decisions seem to be made in the home country. These accounts take time. But as I say, you must keep knocking on the door until you find an opportunity, and that’s what Repstronics is able to do for us. The ability to penetrate and convert global accounts is especially important for both of us. Repstronics can stay engaged and make sure they let the customer know about the machine and software upgrades, plus new developments and offerings.
Luis: Our strategy is very clear. We offer the right solution for the customer and their application. Koh Young is the market leader and has the right solutions, so t that’s why we can be successful. This thinking is the key – and explains why we’ve been in business for almost 20 years.
EMSNOW: Do you target specific sectors or specific EMS or OEMs?
Ramon: It can be any or all of those. At Koh Young, it can be a big account with hundreds of SMT lines or a small account with only one line. We focus on the customer, not the sale. Yet, we are always looking to expand our reach across markets, the big guys, the smaller companies. Whatever market the customer is participating in, that’s where we can operate. We do the same quality, we provide the same technical support, we put in the same strong effort for all our customers regardless of sector or business model.
EMSNOW: How do you quantify the success of the business?
Ramon: It’s extremely exciting times. We’ve been in this industry for 20 years. This year, Koh Young reached a significant global milestone – we’ve sold 20,000 machines in 20 years. And Koh Young America sold over 3,000 of them. It’s a very dynamic company and doing business in Mexico has been very rewarding. We are very interactive. Sometimes we penetrate with SPI (solder paste inspection), sometimes it’s AOI (automated optical inspection), pin, or coating inspection, whatever the customer needs.
EMSNOW: How does the sales process work?
Luis: It’s a result of our commitment to the customer. We are deeply involved with the customer, and we identify the exact need. Then we match the application to a solution. Koh Young has an expanding line of inspection solutions. And when the customer requires it, they accept the challenge and develop the technology to meet the customer need. Listening and reacting to the customer is one of the reasons for their success.
EMSNOW: What are the current initiatives? Business is growing. What is your focus in the current environment?
Ramon: Mexico is very big in automotive. Electric vehicles are particularly important and that’s just starting to expand. Medical equipment is also important, but what we’ve been seeing with the component shortages, with the global disruptions, with the problems with China, is that the Taiwanese accounts are getting more active in Mexico for semiconductor manufacturing. The global disruptions are bringing new semiconductor manufacturing business to this area. This is huge and very new. For the future, we see much more from this new sector.
Luis: Yes, Ramon is right. For sure, these logistical challenges will remain, but semiconductor manufacturing is what we are anticipating will get a lot more attention. Medical and automotive will remain important, but now semiconductor manufacturing will emerge. We are learning from the logistical challenges. We will continue to support our customers. We are very optimistic.
EMSNOW: Are you seeing more LV/HM products coming back from China?
Ramon: Yes, the mix is changing. We are seeing high volume mostly, but some customers have low volume/high mix products also. Telecomm for example. You have some boards that are very expensive and only run a few boards. You have a company with a campus of 8-10 buildings, but then you also have brand-new smaller companies producing high mix, low volume, expensive products.
EMSNOW: Besides the sales side, you have the service support. Repstronics has a service support organization as well. How does that work between the two organizations?
Luis: That is correct. We do the sales, but also provide service support for Koh Young. Both Koh Young and Repstronics provide whatever support is needed. It’s very collaborative.
EMSNOW: A lot is happening in the global supply chain. Companies are trying to make their businesses more resilient, and that means Mexico is gaining a lot of business. What about the future: as you look at your business in Mexico, what do you see for the future for Koh Young and for Repstronics
Ramon: We see a lot of growth in different segments. E-mobility – we are just at the beginning of that growth, and it is going to be a huge boom for Mexico. Semiconductor manufacturing – Taiwanese, Chinese, and Korean accounts are all moving in. New manufacturing is going to cities in Mexico that don’t have electronics, for example, wire harness manufacturing and metal joining shops. These cities are contributing to the overall growth and it’s benefitting all areas. As a country, we have different challenges. They are going to want to set up facilities in the south to help with the water shortage challenges. If we can overcome these challenges, it will diversify where the companies are planning to locate within Mexico.
Koh Young is diversifying too. We are known for our market-leading SPI and AOI, but we don’t stop innovating with 3D. We have developed an award-winning solution for conformal coating inspection so customers can measure the thickness at production speed. Also, through-hole technology inspection. Like most in the industry, we’ve been hearing through-hole is going away, but now there are different areas and solutions that need the through-hole technology. People thought that was going away, but there are new things to measure.
Luis: Many international companies are trusting the electronics industry in Mexico to offer more services. Companies are expanding their manufacturing capabilities and that’s why we see growth. They are looking for new capabilities and we can help them. I see this continuing and the electronics industry growing in many areas. Many companies are expanding into new processes, and we can help them because we can offer these new manufacturing solutions. Remember, our focus is to offer the right solution to the customer for their application
EMSNOW: Thank you very much. I wish you, gentlemen, continuing success both personally and for your companies as they operate in this exciting part of the global electronics industry.