When you work from a home office, nothing is more enticing than an opportunity to “get out” and see a customer and take a facility tour. So, last week, “get out” I did and hit the road from Fayetteville, GA, up to participate in a tour of Count on Tools in Gainesville, GA. (For those unfamiliar with Georgia geography and traffic – yes, that is a bit of a drive, but, thankfully, I-85 has been repaired.)
This tour was organized by the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. This group serves manufacturing businesses in the state and provides monthly plant tours, educational sessions and networking opportunities “designed to help make profitable business connections for our members.” They put on all sorts of very cool tours throughout the state – including one I was sorry I missed of the KIA plant. Jason Moss, the founder and CEO of GMA, has, in fact, been a great supporter of our local SMTA Atlanta Chapter as well as a featured keynote.
But, I digress. Back to Count on Tools – longtime CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY friend, supporter and 2017 Service Excellence Award winner for Automation and Handling Equipment. I was greeted warmly at the door by Curt Couch, president and CEO, and we chatted about how nice it was to see each other outside the confines of a busy trade show. He and his wife, Rene, started this business about 26 years ago literally in their backyard. And what an amazing success story from such an unassuming but obviously visionary guy. He said he never expected this level of growth, but here they are today with about 40 employees and a 20,000-sq. ft. facility.
For those who may not know, COT is a precision component manufacturer specializing in CNC Swiss automatic machining using standard to exotic materials including stainless steel, titanium, Inconel and PEEK. They are a global supplier of precision engineering components to a wide range of industries. And, of course, in our industry we know them for their nozzles and tooling, automation tooling and component handling equipment. Just this month, they finished an expansion of their manufacturing facility.
The consistent comment from the tour group (which was comprised of professionals from other manufacturing and service facilities throughout Georgia) – “what a beautiful, clean facility, well run and organized.” And, the camaraderie among the Count on Tools employees was evident as well.
Zach Shook, operations director, Marketing and IT was also on hand, and we discussed our upcoming travel plans for SMTAI and Productronica. I caught up with my friend Tom Foley from ASM, who is a customer of COT. Prime, a contract manufacturer here in Georgia, was also represented as well. (Shameless plug – our next SMTA chapter meeting will be held at Prime, and our speaker with be Jeff Timms, managing director of ASM Americas. He will speak on “Enabling the Digital World” which highlights many of the upcoming and future technologies which will drive the electronics assembly industry into the future.)
All In all, Count On Tools is an impressive manufacturing success story and a day well spent! Thank you Curt, Rene, Zach and the Count on Tools team for your hospitality.
Frances Stewart is vice president for PCD&F/CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY.