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Interview with Curt Couch, President of Count On Tools

Posted by Z.Shook on 12/30/2015 to Count On Tools News

Count On Tools has been a manufacturer of high-quality, low-cost nozzles and associated components for the SMT industry for more than 24 years. Proven manufacturing and engineering expertise, coupled with commitment to service excellence and investment in the latest production equipment, has ensured that innovation and competitiveness is applied to all of the company’s extensive product range. We recently sat down with Count On Tools’ President Curt Couch to learn more about the company, and its products and services.

Curt, we understand that Count On Tools recently was awarded its second consecutive Service Excellence Award from Circuits Assembly magazine. Please explain to our readers what this means to your company and customers.

As with last years’ service excellence award I am always humbled by recognition of this caliber based solely on customer response. It is not by chance that our dedicated, caring and responsive team always places our customers’ needs first. Service is not a product that can be created; rather it is a culture and attitude towards others. We treat customers as we would like to be treated ourselves. I believe this award is a true testament to the caliber and dedication that our team brings each and every day.

We hear a lot of customers talking about Count On Tools’ Custom Nozzle Engineering division. Can you tell us a little bit more about that part of your company?
It all started with our nozzles. We have been at this for more than 24 years now and we have always strived to provide customers with solutions to any issue they have when it comes to placing components. Customers come to us with problems that they experience, such as having to hand place odd-form components. We see every opportunity as a challenge to prove that we are capable of producing solutions at every level of the SMT assembly process, especially nozzles and tooling. The technology that we developed over the years has allowed us to design and manufacture custom engineered tooling for any pick-and-place equipment and for any kind of component. The real key though is our team’s openness to be creative in all situations, drawing from past experiences as well as new technology and ideas.

Count On Tools recently announced that it expanded its manufacturing operations for its Custom Nozzle Engineering division. Can you explain this expansion and how it benefits your customers?
Over the last several years, we have experienced tremendous growth in our Custom Nozzle Engineering division. Most of this growth was fueled by the success of our LED nozzle solutions for solid-state LED components from companies such as Cree and Lumileds. Our primary goal is to supply customers with fast turnarounds and significant cost savings on custom engineered tooling for their equipment. The addition of new equipment and more trained staff will keep our delivery times to a minimum while maximizing our ability to stay competitive and innovative.

Count On Tools recently launched the StripFeeder Mini system. How does this system differ from the original StripFeeder and what benefits can customers expect from the more compact system?
After launching the StripFeeder platform, we received a tremendous response from customers regarding the design and function of the device. From this feedback, we decided that it made sense to offer a smaller package system that would have the features of the larger system but would accommodate smaller strips of components (2-4"). The more compact design is ideally suited for smaller prototype and rework machines as well as most SMT pick-and-place equipment. It offers increased lane capacity with the ability to run two StripFeeder Minis in the same space as one original StripFeeder system.

So, by offering these automation tooling products, Count On Tools is moving beyond just SMT Nozzles and Consumables. What other types of solutions can you offer companies in this industry?
As I mentioned before, our company has been successful in part because of our ability to take on new challenges from customers and find solutions to common industry problems. Along those lines, we are currently working to develop a new product similar to our StripFeeder system that will allow us to convert customers’ loose, unpackaged components into a custom machined matrix tray. This service will have a 24-28 hour turnaround and will be the most cost effective way to repackage loose components and get them back into the assembly process. The new QwikTray system is scheduled to launch later this year, so keep a lookout for more product information around that time.

Most customers in this industry know Count On Tools for the nozzles and other SMT consumables, but you also offer precision contract machining services. Can you tell readers more about that part of your company?
We are more than just nozzles. At its core, Count On Tools is a precision component manufacturer. All of the nozzles and tooling we offer are manufactured in our Gainesville, GA facility. We operate advanced CNC Swiss-Type Automatic Lathes with multiple-axis and multiple turning capabilities, precision machining centers, lathes, mills, quality, finishing and secondary tools. Our expertise has allowed us to expand our capabilities to manufacturing other parts for our customers in this industry and many others as well. We offer a variety of job shop services for a wide selection of materials, from standard to exotic. Whether our customers need fast turnaround, single parts, small lots, large quantities or a long-term supply with on-time deliveries, we are able to supply them with the highest quality and service. Our focus is to pass these advantages and capabilities onto our customers and, in so doing, create long-term relationships, which we believe will enhance and add value to the end user's products and services.

Does Count On Tools have any plans for continued expansion or any new product updates during the remainder of 2015?
We recently acquired an additional 5,000 sq. ft. of production facility that will be used over the next several years to expand our manufacturing operations. We are always looking for ways to expand our operations so that we can continue to prove excellent service to our customers and to continue meeting demands both now and in the future. We see the potential for tremendous growth with our existing product lines and look forward to launching the new QwikTray system later this year.